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Sunday, September 10, 2023

Ngounoue Qualifies for WTA 500 in San Diego; Former NCAA Champion Routliffe Wins US Open Women's Doubles Title; Djokovic Claims 24th Major Title

Covering a junior slam onsite is always tiring, but this year's US Open Junior Championships seemed particularly grueling, with the tournament now eight days, rather than nine and the heat never relenting after a pleasant first day. The lightning and rain delays that kept the semifinals and finals off the courts until after dark and some questionable scheduling choices meant I couldn't finish writing until 2 a.m. the past two days, and my evening flight from La Guardia tonight was canceled, so a 5:30 a.m. flight from White Plains awaits me tomorrow.

All that is to say that this will be a short post, and a much earlier one than was customary last week.

When Clervie Ngounoue won the USTA Girls 18s National title, over future US Open girls champion Katherine Hui last month, she received a wild card into the US Open main draw and a wild card into the qualifying of the WTA 500 Cymbiotika Open in San Diego.

Ngounoue, who also won the title at the ITF J300 in San Diego in March at the Barnes Tennis Center, site of the Girls Nationals and the WTA event, obviously is comfortable there, and today she qualified for the main draw, earning her second WTA Top 100 win this summer.

The 17-year-old Wimbledon girls champion defeated Storm Hunter of Australia in the first round of qualifying Saturday 7-6(3), 6-4 and today took out WTA No. 69 Claire Liu, the 2017 Wimbledon girls champion, 6-2, 6-4 to advance through qualifying to the main draw of an WTA tournament for the first time.

The other Americans among the six qualifiers are Emma Navarro(Virginia) and Louisa Chirico.

All three of the doubles draws at the US Open featured former college players, with Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) taking the men's doubles, Anna Danilina(Florida) raising the mixed doubles winner's trophy and today, Erin Routliffe(Alabama) taking the women's doubles title. 

Routliffe, who won back-to-back NCAA women's doubles titles with Maya Jansen in 2014 and 2015, partnered with Gabriela Dabrowski for her first slam title. Routliffe, who now represents New Zealand but continues to live in Canada, is the first NCAA women's doubles champion to win a women's doubles major, according to this tweet from John Parsons.

Routliffe and Dabrowski, the No. 16 seeds, defeated No. 12 seeds Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva 7-6(9), 6-3 in Sunday's final. For more on their title, see this article from the WTA website.

Novak Djokovic closed out the US Open tonight with a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Daniil Medvedev, earning his 24th major title and becoming the oldest US Open champion. See this ATP article for more.

For more on the junior championships, make sure to check out Michael Lewis's coverage at the ITF Junior Circuit website.

And, in closing, another reminder not to miss Jon Wertheim's 50 Parting Shots from the US Open. I always appreciate his interest in the juniors.