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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

ITF Junior Circuit Returns to Australia for Traralgon J1, First Junior Slam of 2022; Lilov Late Withdrawal at Merida JA, Other Americans Advance to Round of 16

The ITF Junior Circuit will return to Australia for the first time in two years next January, with entries now open for the J1 in Traralgon and the Australian Open Junior Championships in Melbourne.

Beginning on January 14th, the J1 in Traralgon will serve as a warmup event for the Australian Open Junior Championships, after both tournaments were canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. As was the case in 2020, the draws will be 64 in the main draw and 32 in qualifying. The deadline for entries is December 7, just two weeks from today.

The Australian Open Junior Championships, which were not played in 2021 due to the pandemic, will begin on Saturday January 22 and conclude on Saturday January 29. The entry deadline is also December 7, and the draws are the usual 64-player main draw and 32-play qualifying. 

I assume, given the recent announcement from Tennis Australia that all players in the men and women's draws must be vaccinated to participate will also extend to the junior players, but that information is not part of the fact sheet published today.

In any case, the return of the Australian Open Junior Championships is a positive development in returning the 2022 calendar to its usual rhythm and structure, after two years of cancellations and accommodations due the pandemic.

The seeds took to the courts today at the ITF JA in Merida Mexico, after receiving byes in the first round.

Wimbledon boys finalist Victor Lilov, who was the top seed when the draws were released Sunday night, withdrew, with a lucky loser taking his position at the top of the draw. Lilov has also withdrawn from the Orange Bowl next month.

Although matches always extend late into the night in Mexico and all of the second round scores are not posted, most of the seeds have advanced to Wednesday's round of 16. A few did not; Ryan Colby defeated No. 12 seed Luka Mikrut of Croatia 7-6(5), 6-2 and wild card Luca Lamaitre Vilchis of Mexico beat No. 13 seed Joao Victor Couto Loureiro of Brazil 6-7(4), 7-6(9), 6-3. Alexander Blockx of Belgium took out No. 8 seed Kalin Ivanovski of Macedonia 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

No. 2 seed Leo Borg of Sweden advanced, as did No.3 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru.

Four US girls have advanced to the round of 16, including unseeded wild card Qavia Lopez, Liv Hovde, No. 6 seed Clervie Ngounoue and No. 11 seed Alexis Blokhina. 

Lopez defeated No. 16 seed Amelie Van Impe of Belgium 6-2, 6-1 and Hovde repeated last month's victory in the final of the ITF JB1 in Nicholasville, beating No. 14 seed Marina Stakusic of Canada 6-3, 6-4. Blokina defeated Lara Smejkal of Slovenia 6-2, 6-3 and Ngounoue downed Alejandra Cruz of Mexico 6-0, 6-1.

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