Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Monday, September 11, 2023

Fonseca Moves to No. 1 in ITF Junior Rankings; Final Standings in Race to October's ITF Junior Finals; Upsets Mark First Day at Montreal's ITF J200; Blanch Receives Cary Challenger Wild Card

The post-US Open ITF junior rankings were released today, with two-time junior slam champion Alina Korneeva retaining her No. 1 spot and no change in the top four, which is unusual after a slam. But with champion Katherine Hui ranked 563 coming into the tournament, her title couldn't shake up the rankings much, although she did move up to 42.

The boys do have a new No. 1, with US Open champion Joao Fonseca going from No. 7 to the top spot with his title. Fonseca replaced Yaroslav Demin, whose best result is the Wimbledon finals. US Open finalist Learner Tien moved back into the Top 10 at No. 5, with a Top 10 year-end finish putting boys in the highest  category in the ATP Accelerator Program for Challenger wild cards.

The year-end results can still change through the Orange Bowl, but there is one, even bigger tournament next month: the ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Finals.  The top eight boys and the top eight girls, as of today's rankings, will be invited to Chengdu China, all expenses paid, to compete for travel grants ($17,000 for the winners) and 750 ITF junior ranking points. 

I asked Fonseca, Tien and girls runner-up Tereza Valentova if they were planning to compete in the event; only Valentova was enthusiastic about the prospect, although Fonseca and Tien didn't rule it out. In the past, and note that this year's event is the first Junior Finals since 2019, some eligible players have decided not to take advantage of the opportunity. That may again be the case, but as of today, these are the eight players of each gender who have qualified:

1. Joao Fonseca, Brazil
2. Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez, Mexico
3. Yaroslav Demin, Russia
4. Cooper Williams, United States
5. Learner Tien, United States
6. Henry Searle, Great Britain
7. Yi Zhou, China
8. Darwin Blanch, United States

1. Alina Korneeva, Russia
2. Clervie Ngounoue, United States
3. Renata Jamrichova, Slovakia
4. Lucciana Perez Alarcon, Peru
5. Sara Saito, Japan
6. Sayaka Ishii, Japan
7. Tereza Valentova, Czech Republic
8. Mayu Crossley, Japan

The junior tennis carousel keeps on turning, with no break for several of the juniors competing in the US Open last week. An ITF J200 in Montreal has attracted several of them, including top boys seed Abel Forger of the Netherlands and No. 2 seed Shannon Lam of the United States. No. 2 seed Hayden Jones of Australia, who was playing in the boys doubles semifinals on Saturday morning, lost his first round match today to 15-year-old Jack Secord 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.  Top girls seed Naomi Xu of Canada was also ousted by a 15-year-old American, with Katerina Shabashkevich posting a 6-3, 7-5 victory.

There is nothing again this week for women on the USTA Pro Circuit, but there are two events for the men: the Atlantic Tire Championships, an ATP Challenger 75 in Cary North Carolina, and a $15,000 tournament at the University of Illinois

Qualifying concluded today in Cary, with four Americans reaching the main draw: Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern), Garrett Johns(Duke), Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) and Donald Young.  

Fifteen-year-old Darwin Blanch, who lost in the third round at last week's US Open Junior Championships, received a wild card into Cary, and will take on Johns in the first round tomorrow afternoon. 

Former University of North Carolina star Rinky Hijikata of Australia is back in his old neighborhood and the top seed; the 22-year-old, now up to 82 in the ATP rankings after his run to the fourth round at the US Open, will play Duke sophomore Pedro Rodenas of Spain, who received a wild card. The third wild card went to North Carolina sophomore Will Jansen of Great Britain. Alex Michelsen is the No. 2 seed.