Monday, July 5, 2021

French Open Boys Champion Ousted in Wimbledon Juniors First Round; Three Americans Through Before Rain Cancels Play; Weston $15K Final Abandoned; ITF J5 Underway in Daytona Beach

The first round of the Junior Championships at Wimbledon rarely comes off without surprises and this year again provided an big upset, with No. 2 seed and French Open boys champion Luca Van Assche falling in the first round to Max Rehberg of Germany 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3.

Usually I am at the tournament when I talk to those who claim best-ever wins like these; this year, due to the media restrictions in place, I'm doing my interviews over Zoom (and I don't have the photos that would normally accompany the post either).

I was able to watch the match however, and I admit that I thought, when Rehberg trailed 5-1 in the second set and then 3-0 in the third, that Van Assche would get out of the first round with just a scare. Rehberg however was not about to concede, even with an unfortunate history in third sets this year.

"I lost so many third sets this year," said Rehberg, whose eight losses this year in top-tier junior events and in the two ITF World Tennis Tour men's tournaments he played all came in third sets."This is the day, I said to me, come on Max, you can do it. It's your only chance, it's Wimbledon, so come on, you can do it."

Rehberg, who will be 18 in September, lost in the first round in both singles and doubles last week at Roehampton, but he did get some practice in on grass prior to the very abbreviated junior grass court season.

"I was lucky, because at home in Munich I had the opportunity to play on a grass court, but it was still a bit different than here," Rehberg said. "It's faster than Wimbledon, but you can't prepare for a tournament like Wimbledon, because it's just unbelievable."

But the very nature of grass court tennis gave Rehberg the confidence to reel off the final six games of the match.

I'm a player who never says that it's impossible to win," Rehberg said. "I saw the draw, and I thought, ok, it will be a tough draw, but what should I do? I just played my game, just tried. I was lucky today, maybe. On a grass court, it can go very fast, because the court is so fast."

Although Van Assche was the highest profile seed to lose today, it wasn't alone in exiting on Day One. Dali Blanch, the No. 10 seed, lost to Kalin Vanovski of Macedonia 7-5, 7-6(4); No. 12 seed Dana Guzman of Peru lost to British wild card Alicia Dudeney 7-6(1), 6-1; and No. 9 seed Madison Sieg lost to British wild card Ranah Stoiber 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

While Blanch, Sieg, Aidan Mayo and Alexis Blokhina lost their first round matches today, three Americans did advance to the second round. Ozan Colak earned his first junior slam singles win with a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Miguel Gomes of Portugal; Victor Lilov cruised past British wild card Hugo Coquelin 6-3, 6-1 and No. 7 seed Alexandra Yepifanova saved three set points in the first to defeat Baylor incoming freshman Alina Shcherbinina of Russia 7-6(3), 6-2.

The top two seeds in the girls draw advanced in straight sets, with Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva beating Beatrice Ricci of Itay 6-3 6-4 and Alexandra Eala of the Philippines downing Solana Sierra of Argentina 6-2, 6-4.  Juncheng Shang of China, the No. 1 seed in the boys draw, plays his first round match against qualifier Igor Kudriashov of Russia Tuesday.

Although the weather forecast is not good for Tuesday, 16 first round junior doubles matches are also on the schedule, in addition to the 15 girls singles matches and the 21 boys singles matches, nine of which were in progress. Shang and Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain are the top seeds in the boys doubles, with Diana Shnaider of Russia and Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus the top seeds in the girls doubles

The last three Americans still in men's and women's singles bowed out today, with Madison Keys[23] losing to Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 7-6(3), 6-3; Coco Gauff[20] falling to 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber [25] of Germany 6-4, 6-4 and Sebastian Korda losing to No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, 10-8. The fifth set was as bizarre a set of men's grass court tennis as you are ever likely to see, with eight consecutive breaks of serve and a total of 13 in the set, a Wimbledon record.

Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old British wild card, had to retire due to breathing problems in her night match against Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, trailing 6-4, 3-0.

Rajeev Ram(Illinois) is the sole American remaining in men's doubles, with No. 6 seed Ram and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) of Great Britain into the quarterfinals.

In women's doubles, Caroline Dolehide is into the quarterfinals with Storm Sanders of Australia. Gauff and Caty McNally had their third round match canceled today.

US juniors first round results at Wimbledon Monday:

Matthew Donald(CZE) d. Aidan Mayo 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4
Ozan Colak d. Miguel Gomez(POR) 6-2, 6-3
Victor Lilov d. Hugo Coquelin[WC](GBR) 6-3, 6-1
Kalin Ivanovski(MKD) d. Dali Blanch[10] 7-5, 7-6(4)
Bruno Kuzuhara[4] v William Jansen[WC](GBR) 7-5, 6-6(5-6), suspended
Ethan Quinn v Adolfo Vallejo(PAR) 1-2, suspended
Alexandra Yepifanova[7] d. Alina Shcherbinina(RUS) 7-6(3), 6-2
Valencia Xu v Nastasia Schunk(GER) 3-3 suspended
Matilde Paoletti(ITA) d. Alexis Blokhina 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Ranah Stoiber[WC](GBR) d. Madison Sieg[9] 5-7, 6-4, 6-2

US juniors in first round action at Wimbledon Tuesday:

Samir Banerjee v Maks Kasnikowski[12](POL)
Alexander Bernard[13] v Charlelie Cosnet[Q]
Reese Brantmeier v Nicole Rivkin(GER)
Ashlyn Krueger v Diana Shnaider[3](RUS)
Ellie Coleman v Michaela Laki[14](GRE)
Elvina Kalieva[10] v Isabelle Lacy(GBR)(postponed from Monday)
Valencia Xu v Nastasia Schunk(GER) 3-3 suspended
Ethan Quinn trails Adolfo Vallejo(PAR) 1-2, suspended
Bruno Kuzuhara[4] leads William Jansen[WC](GBR) 7-5, 6-6(5-6), suspended

Even an extra day couldn't ensure a conclusion to the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament is Weston Florida. The final  was abandoned today, after qualifier Liam Draxl(Kentucky) of Canada and No. 5 seed Stefan Kozlov split sets, with Kozlov winning the first 7-6(5) and Draxl the second 6-3 before rain again disrupted play.

Hopefully the weather is better in Daytona Beach Florida this week, where the ITF Junior Circuit J5 is taking place as a warmup for next week's USTA National Clay Court Championships. Nevena Carton and Preston Stearns are the top seeds, and both won their first round matches today in straight sets.