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Saturday, September 2, 2023

Twenty-Seven Americans on Sunday's Schedule as US Open Junior Championships Begin; Stearns Reaches Fourth Round; Xu and Schwaerzler Sweep ITF J300 Repentigny Titles

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Flushing Meadows NY--

The final junior slam of the season begins Sunday, with 48 singles matches, 27 of which feature Americans.

A total of 21 girls and 16 boys from the United States are in the US Open Junior Championships draw, and with good weather and no day of rest necessary for the qualifiers this year after they finished yesterday, the juniors will basically take over the outside courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 

Below are the American matchups for Sunday, along with a list of seeds.

Ariana Pursoo v Rosita Dencheva(BUL)
Anita Tu[WC] v Luciana Moyano(ARG)
Jessica Bernales[Q] v Nanaka Sato[Q](JPN)
Alexia Harmon v Ekaterina Perelygina(RUS)
Tatum Evans v Kristiana Sidorova(RUS)
Akasha Urhobo[WC] v Mayu Crossley[5](JPN)
Theodora Rabman v Zuzanna Pawlikowska(POL)
Valerie Glozman[WC] v Ella McDonald(GBR)
Katherine Hui[WC] v Gaia Maduzzi[Q](ITA)
Iva Jovic[8] v Aya El Aouni(MAR)
Christasha McNeil[WC] v Charo Esquiva Banuls[16](ESP)
Shannon Lam[Q] v Laura Samsonova[10](CZE)
Olivia Center[Q] v Monika Stankiewcz(POL)
Alanis Hamilton v Noemi Basiletti[Q](ITA)
Kaitlin Quevedo[7] v Cara Maria Mester(ROU)

ZhengQing Ji v Maxim Mrva(CZE)
Cooper Woestendick[SE] v Patrick Schoen(SUI)
Kyle Kang v Aryan Shah[Q](IND)
Learner Tien[11] v Abel Forger(NED)
Kaylan Bigun v Arthur Gea[15](FRA)
Cooper Williams[3] v Gabriele Vulpitta(ITA)
Roy Horovitz v Atakan Karahan[Q](TUR)
Alexander Razeghi v Carlo Alberto Caniato[SE](ITA)
Matthew Forbes[WC] v Matic Kriznik(SLO)
Adhithya Ganesan[WC] v Max Dahlin(SWE)
Maxwell Exsted v Hayden Jones(AUS)
Trevor Svajda[WC] v Hoyoung Roh[Q](KOR)

The seeds for the US Open Junior Championships:

1. Yaroslav Demin(RUS)
2. Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez(MEX)
3. Cooper Williams(USA)
4. Henry Searle(GBR)
5. Juan Carlos Prado Angelo(BOL)
6. Ilyan Radulov(BUL)
7. Joao Fonseca(BRA)
8. Darwin Blanch(USA)
9. Yi Zhou(CHN)
10. Branko Djuric(SRB)
11. Learner Tien(USA)
12. Tomasz Berkieta(POL)
13. Joel Schwaerzler(AUT)
14. Federico Cina(ITA)
15. Arthur Gea(FRA)
16. Alejandro Melero Kretzer(ESP)

1. Renata Jamrichova(SVK)
2. Lucciana Perez Alarcon(PER)
3. Sayaka Ishii(JPN)
4. Sara Saito(JPN)
5. Mayu Crossley(JPN)
6. Ena Koike(JPN)
7. Kaitlin Quevedo(USA)
8. Iva Jovic(USA)
9. Tereza Valentova(CZE)
10. Laura Samsonova(CZE)
11. Anastasiia Gureva(RUS)
12. Emerson Jones(AUS)
13. Alena Kovackova(CZE)
14. Teodora Kostovic(SRB)
15. Rebecca Munk Mortensen(DEN)
16. Charo Esquiva Banuls(ESP)

An on-time flight and Saturday's schedule allowed me to watch a professional match in its entirety this evening, an opportunity I rarely get while covering a junior slam, and I was able to see Peyton Stearns advance to the second week of a major for the first time with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Katie Boulter of Great Britain. The 2022 NCAA singles and team champion was scheduled to play the unseeded Boulter on the Grandstand, but due to the length of Jessica Pegula's singles match and rest time necessary before her doubles match on the Grandstand, the Stearns-Boulter match was moved to Court 17.

The crowd was small, but plenty of University of Texas burnt orange was visible, and the Longhorns were buoyed by an earlier break by Stearns in the first set. She lost that break, but got another with Boulter serving at 4-5 to take the set.

The Stearns forehand was the biggest shot on the court, and although she missed it on occasion, that never kept her from going for it the next time she sensed an opening.

In the second set, Stearns got several easy holds, then broke Boulter at love when she served at 2-3. Stearns had a match point with Boulter serving at 2-5, but her backhand sailed long and Boulter held, forcing Stearns to close it out on serve.

It was a fraught game, with Stearns falling behind 15-40 and saving another break point on an ad before finally working her way to a match point. She missed that opportunity after lengthy rally, but soon got another thanks to her serve, which was a liability at the start of the game, but returned to its usual strength and as she got more first serves in. On her third match point, Stearns was able to find the right moment to pull the trigger on her forehand and she ended the suspense with her third consecutive straight-sets victory.

In her press conference, Stearns was asked if her rapid ascent, perhaps not as meteoric as fellow NCAA 2022 singles champion Ben Shelton, but impressive nonetheless, has surprised her.

"Yeah, for sure. I've kind of set goals in the rankings a little bit for myself, and I keep surpassing those goals, so I have to keep creating new ones, which is a great thing," said Stearns, who is now being coached by Eric Hechtman.  "It's moving very quickly. But I have to learn very quickly, as well. Because of how fast it's moving, I don't have time to absorb a lot of things in. But I think I do a pretty good job of learning them very quickly, so..."

Stearns explained her progression in the rankings since turning pro 15 months ago.

"So when I left college last year....I was about 400 in the world. I told myself by the end of the year I wanted to be top 200," the 21-year-old from Mason Ohio said. "That was end of last year, top 200. I think I came in just about 210. Then at the start of this year I told myself by the end of the year I wanted to be in the top 100. That happened I think in March or April, so it happened pretty quickly. Then I told myself I wanted to be top 75, and that happened pretty quickly. Once I cracked that, I told myself I wanted to be top 50. Well, I just did that by winning today, well inside. Now I have to make a new goal."

Stearns, who is now 44 in WTA live rankings, will play the winner of tonight's match between Wimbledon champion and No. 9 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and No. 22 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia.

Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys joined Stearns and Coco Gauff in the fourth round with three-set wins today.

Saturday's third round results of Americans:
Jessica Pegula[3] d. Elina Svitolina[26](UKR) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Madison Keys[17] d. Luidmila Samsonova[14](RUS) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
Peyton Stearns d.  Katie Boulter 6-4, 6-3

Jack Draper(GBR) d. Michael Mmoh[WC] 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Sunday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Tommy Paul[14] v Ben Shelton
Frances Tiafoe[10] v Rinky Hijikata[WC](AUS)
Taylor Fritz[9] v Dominic Stricker[Q](SUI)

Coco Gauff[6] v Caroline Wozniacki[WC](DEN)  

The ITF J300 in Repentigny Canada concluded today with top seed Mingge Xu and No. 2 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria adding the singles titles to the doubles titles they won Friday.  Xu won an all-British battle, beating doubles partner and No. 5 seed Hannah Klugman 3-6, 6-0, 7-5. 

Schwaerzler defeated No. 14 seed Charlie Camus of Australia 6-3, 6-2 to take the boys title. 

Top seeds Klugman and Xu defeated Mara Gae of Romania and Hayu Kinoshito of Japan 6-2, 6-4 in the girls doubles final; top seeds Schwaerzler and Federico Bondioli of Italy defeated the No. 2 seeds Federico Cina and Gabriele Vulpitta of Italy 6-3, 6-2 in the boys doubles final. 

Xu, who is not seeded in the US Open Juniors, has drawn No. 12 seed Emerson Jones of Australia, who won the College Park J300 a week ago. Jones lost to Klugman in the quarterfinals in Canada.

The finalists in Canada are not on Sunday's schedule in New York.