Friday, July 2, 2021

June Aces; Korda, Keys Reach Wimbledon Second Week; Wimbledon Junior Qualifying Begins Saturday; All Main Draw Wild Cards British; Top Seeds Advance to Roehampton J1 Semifinals

My monthly column for Tennis Recruiting Network looks back on the juniors and the current and former collegians who won tournaments last month on clay and hard courts. While the abbreviated grass season is the focus of the sport at the moment, it was the other two surfaces that produced the 14 highlights from last month, with first titles claimed from the French Open down to the $15,000 tournaments on the ITF World Tennis Tour.

Only two of the seven Americans in third round action today at Wimbledon got through with Madison Keys and Sebastian Korda booking their places in the second week with victories on the Wimbledon show courts today.

Sebastian Korda

Korda said he had never stepped foot on Centre Court, even when it was empty, prior to today's 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 22 Dan Evans of Great Britain, but he handled the occasion as if he been there many times before. Korda, who turns 21 Monday, was asked in the press conference if his composure came naturally to him. He said that was a lesson he learned from his mother, the former Regina Rajchrtov√°, who played on the WTA tour and reached a career-high of 26 in 1991.

"She was super big on always having a poker face, never showing your opponent what you're feeling," said Korda, whose father Petr was on the PGA Tour with older daughter Jessica when Korda was in his early teens. "I used that pretty well today. I have her to thank because she's taught me so much. Just was always staying calm, always positive, just to keep doing my thing."

Although it was the luck of the draw that led to his playing the top British player on Centre Court, Korda was able to appreciate what special a moment it was.

"All the years that I've watched tennis, they always show how the players are walking through all the rooms, then walking down the stairs," said Korda, who considered getting out his phone to record his walk to Centre Court. "I just thought to myself, this is nuts. What's about to happen is going to be something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. I have Wimbledon to thank for that, to give me the opportunity to play on Centre Court against the British No. 1 Dan Evans was awesome. It's definitely one thing I won't forget."

Korda will play No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia Monday, after Khachanov dismissed Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 without facing a break point.

No. 25 seed Keys advanced to her third Round of 16 at Wimbledon with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 13 Elise Mertens of Belgium on Court One. Keys, whose best result at Wimbledon is a quarterfinal appearance in 2015, addressed her relative lack of success in London compared to the other slams.

"I think my game is well suited for grass," Keys said in the press conference after her win. "Obviously in the past, not having the best of results here has been disappointing, but I think grass is one of those surfaces where, when you feel great on it, it's amazing. If you're not 100% comfortable on it, things can go very quickly the wrong way.

"But I'm very happy that I was able to get a couple of matches before coming and playing at Wimbledon, so I felt a little bit more comfortable on the grass this year. I think that's shown in my tennis."

On Monday, Keys will play unseeded Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who beat Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-1 today.

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Karen Khachanov[25](RUS) d. Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Novak Djokovic[1](SRB) d. Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7)
Sebastian Korda d. Daniel Evans[22](GBR) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

Elena Rybakina[18](KAZ) d. Shelby Rogers 6-1, 6-4 
Liudmila Samsonova[WC](RUS) d. Sloane Stephens 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Madison Keys[23] d. Elise Mertens[13] 7-5, 6-3
Viktorija Golubic(SUI) d. Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-1 

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Coco Gauff[20] v Kaja Juvan(SLO)
Taylor Fritz[31] v Alexander Zverev[4](GER)

Qualifying for the Junior Championships begins Saturday at Roehampton, with two US girls and five US boys competing for places in the main draw. The US girls in the draw are Clervie Ngounoue and Isabelle Kouzmanov; the US boys in qualifying are Braden Shick, Benjamin Kittay, Aidan Kim, Azuma Visaya and Nicholas Godsick.

The wild cards for the main draw have been posted and all are from Great Britain. I was anticipating a main draw wild card for French Open girls champion Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic, as she was not entered in Wimbledon, although she did play this week in Roehampton. But, for whatever reason, she is not playing Wimbledon Juniors. This ITF Wimbledon Junior Championships preview article originally had a paragraph about her participation, but when I asked the ITF about it, they responded by amending the article, which no longer includes her.

The Wimbledon Junior Championship main draw wild cards (all from Great Britain):
William Nolan
Derrick Chen
Oliver Tarvet
William Jansen
Roan Jones
Fabio Nestola
Hugo Coquelin
Louis Bowden

Amelia Bissett
Eva Shaw
Kylie Bilchev
Hephzibah Oluwadare
Isabelle Lacy
Mingge Xu
Ranah Stoibert
Alicia Dudeney

Ngounoue will not just be playing in the singles qualifying for Wimbledon at Roehampton Saturday, but also the doubles semifinals at the J1 going on in Roehampton at the same time. Ngounoue and Alexandra Yepifanova won their quarterfinal match, as did Reese Brantmeier and Ashlyn Krueger, and they will play Saturday for a place in the girls doubles final. Brantmeier lost her third round singles match to No. 13 seed Michaela Laki of Greece 6-1, 7-5.

The only US boy remaining after the doubles quarterfinals is Samir Banerjee, who is playing with Max Westphal of France. The unseeded pair defeated No. 6 seeds Bruno Kuzuhara and Ethan Quinn 6-3, 6-1 to reach Saturday's semifinals.

Top seeds Jerry Shang of China and Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra each won two matches today to reach the singles semifinals. Shang will face No. 7 seed Daniel Rincon of Spain in the top half semifinal and in the bottom half, No. 8 seed Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain will play No. 12 seed Jerome Kym of Switzerland. Kym defeated No. 2 seed and French Open boys champion Luca Van Assche of France 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Jimenez Kasintseva faces qualifier Linda Klimovicova of the Czech Republic in the top half semifinal. Two other Czech girls will meet in the bottom half semifinal, with qualifier Barbora Palicova taking on No. 8 seed Linda Fruhvirtova.