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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Roland Garros Junior Championships Begin Sunday with 12 Americans in Action; Blanch and Kang Draw No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds; NCAA Champion Tian Reaches Rancho Santa Fe $15K Final; Three US Women, No US Men Make Second Week at Roland Garros

The Roland Garros Junior Championships begin Sunday with 12 of the 17 Americans in first round singles action.

Three-quarters of the 64 singles matches are on Sunday's schedule, including one must-see match in the boys draw: No. 2 seed and reigning Australian Open boys champion Alexander Blockx of Belgium against Stanford rising freshman Kyle Kang.

Kang, who reached a men's ITF World Tennis Tour $25K semifinal last week, received entry into the main draw by virtue of his ATP ranking inside the Top 750, but didn't have a ranking high enough to get seeded by the ITF formula, unlike Dino Prizmic of Croatia, who, due to his ATP ranking of 293, was awarded the No. 3 seed.

Kang leads his head-to-head with Blockx 1-0, beating him 4-6, 6-3, 4-1 ret. in the second round of this year's J300 in Traralgon, the warmup to the Australian Open. 

Although it is not on Sunday's schedule, top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico has drawn another tough American in 15-year-old Darwin Blanch. Blanch, the reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion, reached the semifinals of a ITF WTT men's $15K in Spain in April, while Pacheco Mendez has picked up a couple of wins at ATP Challengers in Mexico this spring.

ITF J300 Astrid Bowl doubles champion Alexia Harmon did make the main draw by way of a special exemption, as did Wakana Sonobe of Japan, who won the singles title today in Belgium. Sonobe, the No. 8 seed, defeated Elizara Yaneva of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The boys champion is unseeded 15-year-old Mees Rottgering of the Netherlands, who is not in the draw at Roland Garros, as his ITF junior ranking of 89 left him outside the qualifying acceptances, thus making him ineligible for a special exemption. Rottgering defeated No. 15 seed Lasse Poertner of Germany, also not competing at Roland Garros, 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

Below are the first round matchups for all 17 Americans in the draw, with the asterisks denoting those playing Sunday:

Darwin Blanch v Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez[1](MEX)
*Cooper Williams[9] v Abel Forger(NED)
*Alexander Razeghi v Hayato Matsuoka(JPN)
*Maxwell Exsted[Q] v Oliver Ojakaar[11](EST)
*Kaylan Bigun v Juan Carlos Prado Angelo[8](BOL)
*Alexander Frusina v Fernando Cavallo(ARG)
Roy Horovitz v Yuvan Nandal(IND)
*Learner Tien v Federico Bondioli[13](ITA)
*Kyle Kang v Alexander Blockx[2](BEL)

*Tatum Evans v Melisa Ercan(TUR)
*Ariana Pursoo v Astrid Lew Yan Foon[WC](FRA)
Kaitlin Quevedo[4] v Mingge Xu(GBR)
Tyra Grant[Q] v Renata Jamrichova[7](SVK)
*Valeria Ray v Cara Maria Mester(ROU)
*Mia Slama v Hayu Kinoshita(JPN)
Alexia Harmon[SE] v Tamara Kostic[Q](AUT)
*Clervie Ngounoue[2] v Lucia Pawlak[WC](FRA)

*first round Sunday

Live scoring is available at the Roland Garros website.

The singles finals are set at the SoCal Pro Series men's and women's $15,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe. To anyone who watched her play last week in Lake Nona, it's no surprise that NCAA singles champion Fangran Tian is one of the finalists, despite not being seeded. Tian defeated No. 3 seed Solymar Colling(San Diego) 6-2, 7-6(1) today to run her winning streak to 10 matches, all earned without the loss of a set. The 19-year-old from China, a rising sophomore at UCLA, will face No. 2 seed Megan McCray(Oklahoma State), who beat No. 7 seed Haley Giavara(Cal) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The women's doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Eryn Cayetano(USC) and Princeton rising freshman Isabella Chhiv, who defeated the unseeded team of McCray and Brandy Walker 6-4, 6-3 in the final. It's the first pro title for Chhiv, while Cayetano now has four, two in singles, two in doubles.

The men's final will feature No. 3 seed Colin Sinclair(Cornell) of the Northern Mariana Islands and No. 4 seed Jaimee Angele of France. Sinclair defeated qualifier Noah Schachter(Texas A&M) 6-3, 7-5, while Angele beat No. 6 seed Keegan Smith(UCLA) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. 

Cracked Racquets is providing semifinal and final round coverage of all seven weeks of the SoCal Pro Series via their YouTube Channel.

The last three US men were eliminated from Roland Garros in today's third round action, with both Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe falling to lower seeds.

The news was better for women, with Coco Gauff getting past fellow teenager Mirra Andreeva and 28-year-old Bernard Pera reaching the second week of a slam for the first time. They join Sloane Stephens, who plays No. 2 seed and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus Sunday.

Saturday's third round results of Americans:
Coco Gauff[6] d. Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK) d. Kayla Day[Q] 6-1, 6-3 
Bernarda Pera d. Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA) 6-4, 7-6(2)

Francisco Cerundolo[23](ARG) d. Taylor Fritz[9] 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Alexander Zverev[22](GER) d. Frances Tiafoe[12] 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5)
Nicolas Jarry(CHI) d. Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3