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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tien Joins Williams and Kang in Australian Open Juniors Third Round; Filin and Exsted Beat Top Two Seeds at Costa Rica ITF J300; Three USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments in Florida, Oklahoma This Week

The number of Americans in the Australian Open Junior Championships has been reduced from 13 to three now that two rounds of singles have been completed. All three are boys, with 2022 USTA 18s National champion Learner Tien joining Cooper Williams[8] and Kyle Kang in Wednesday's round of 16.

Tien, who is in the bottom half of the draw, took out unseeded Federico Cina of Italy 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, with a hour-plus rain delay between the second and third sets. The 15-year-old Cina, who won the Traralgon J300 warmup title, was impressive, hitting with great power and depth, and displaying an admirable commitment to finishing at the net. But the 17-year-old Tien got an early break in the third set and held on, converting his second match point serving at 5-4. Tien will face unseeded Jakub Filip of the Czech Republic for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Williams and Kang, who won their second round matches Monday, also play for places in the quarterfinals Wednesday(tonight in the US). Kang plays doubles partner and top seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland, while Williams faces No. 11 seed Yi Zhou of China. If they both win, they will play each other, a rematch of the quarterfinals at last month's Orange Bowl, which Williams won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. 

The last two girls in the singles draw, Tatum Evans and Anya Murthy lost in the second round, with unseeded 15-year-old Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria beating Evans 6-2, 6-2 and No. 15 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia defeating Murthy 6-3, 6-0. 

More rain later in the day Tuesday led to the postponement of the second round of doubles; just one second round doubles match finished Tuesday.

The two Americans in men's and women's Australian Open quarterfinal action Tuesday lost, with Jessica Pegula[3] falling to two-time Australian Open champion (and 2005 girls AO winner) Victoria Azarenka[24] of Belarus 6-4, 6-1, and Sebastian Korda[29] retiring with a wrist injury trailing No. 18 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0.

Wednesday's daytime quarterfinal match between Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul(late tonight in the US) will decided which American advances to the semifinals against the winner of the night quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev. 

After Alanis Hamilton defeated top seed Lucianna Perez Alarcon of Peru in the first round of the ITF J300 in Costa Rica, two US boys pulled off similar upsets. Last night, Nikita Filin defeated top seed Josue Guzman of Peru 6-1, 7-6(6); today qualifier Maxwell Exsted beat No. 2 seed Phoenix Weir of Great Britain 7-6, 6-2. Exsted will play Stiles Brockett in the second round; Filin, Roy Horovitz[5] and Alexander Razeghi[4] are the other three US boys in the second round.

Qualifiers Tyra Grant, 14, and Capucine Jauffret, 15, both won their matches today, with Grant beating qualifier Emma Dong of Canada 6-1, 6-3 and Jauffret defeating No. 7 seed Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. They will play each other for a spot in the quarterfinals. Also through to the second round are Hamilton, Piper Charney, No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo, No. 3 seed Iva Jovic, and No. 6 seed Valeria Ray. 

Scores are updated throughout at the day at the tournament's website.

Last week there were two women's USTA Pro Circuit tournaments and one for men; this week the men have two and the women one.

The women's is a $25,000 tournament on hard courts of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, with qualifying completed today. Several juniors who have made their collegiate commitments qualified, including American Jessica Bernales(Michigan), Canadian Kayla Cross(Vanderbilt) and Olivia Lincer(UCF), who now represents Poland. The other qualifiers are former Tar Heels Sara Daavettila and Makenna Jones, Dasha Ivanova, Victoria Hu(Princeton) and Denmark's Johanne Svendsen.

Reka Luca Jani of Hungary is the top seed, with Ann Li seeded No. 2. Wild cards were given to Li, Robin Anderson[3], Samantha Crawford and Irina Hartman. The latter is the married name of 32-year-old Irina Falconi, who had a baby in 2021 and is competing for the first time since 2020. The former Georgia Tech All-American reached a career-high ranking of 63 in 2016. She plays 18-year-old Robin Montgomery[8] in the first round.

The men's $25,000 tournament is also in Florida, at Wesley Chapel's Saddlebrook Resort.

American qualifiers are wild card Timothy Phung, Matthew Segura, Thomas Brown, Stefan Menichella(Pepperdine), Isaiah Strode and Connor Farren(USC). 

The top two seeds are 2019 US Open boys champion Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic and Timo Stodder(Tennessee) of Germany. Wild cards were awarded to 16-year-old junior Abishek Thorat, Gianni Ross(Virginia) and Miami recruit Yannick Rahman. Rahman beat No. 7 seed Gage Brymer(UCLA) in the first round today 7-5, 6-2; Thorat lost to Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. 

The other men's tournament is a $15,000 tournament in Edmond Oklahoma

The top seeds are Kyle Seelig(Ohio State) and Nick Chappell(TCU). Receiving wild cards are Abhishek Bastola(St. Mary's), Collin Altamirano(Virginia), Jake Van Emburgh(Oklahoma/Ohio State) and Chad Kissell(Valparaiso).

The American qualifiers are 16-year-old blue chip Ian Bracks, 15-year-old blue chip Evan Sharygin, 18-year-old Alex Visser, a Duke recruit, 18-year-old Marko Mesarovic, a Clemson recruit, Baylor freshman Arman Zamani and Cameron Muller.