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

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

May Aces; Four Americans Reach Quarterfinals at Roland Garros Junior Championships; Boys Battle of the Sections Moves to Western Michigan; USTA Midwest's College Showcase Set for Later This Month

The May edition of my monthly column for Tennis Recruiting Network has a bit everything, with a WTA title, a Challenger title, NCAA championships and milestones for juniors and former collegians on the Pro Circuit.  The 19 players in the winner's circle last month, which is by no means everyone who excelled in May, can be found here.

Five of the May Aces are still alive in the Roland Garros Junior Championships, including Americans Max Exsted and Cooper Woestendick, and Kaylan Bigun, all three of whom are Milan J500 champions; No. 2 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria, who won the aforementioned Challenger and is in the quarterfinals of singles and doubles, the latter with Nicolai Budkov Kjaer of Norway, and No. 3 seed Laura Samson of the Czech Republic, who will play in the quarterfinals of both singles and doubles Thursday.

No. 5 seed Bigun continued his dominance on red clay, beating No. 12 seed Miguel Tobon of Colombia 6-4, 6-1. He will take on the last qualifier remaining in the boys draw, Henry Bernet of Switzerland. Bigun and Bernet are 1-1 in their two matches since last November, with Bernet taking a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 decision in the first round of the Eddie Herr J300 and Bigun earning a 6-4, 7-6(4) in the quarterfinals of Milan J500 two weeks ago.

The other boys quarterfinals, all first meetings on the ITF Junior Circuit:
Rei Sakamoto[1](JPN) v Lorenzo Carboni(ITA) 
Moise Kouame[WC](FRA) v Tomasz Berkieta(POL) 
Petr Brunclik[10](CZE) v Joel Schwaerzler[2](AUT)

Three of the four quarterfinals feature American girls, with No. 4 seed Tyra Grant beating qualifier Yufei Ren of China 6-3, 6-4 to set up a first meeting with Jeline Vandromme of Belgium, who won the J300 in Belgium last week, and is up to 19 in the current ITF junior rankings. 

Unseeded 14-year-old Kristina Penickova won her third consecutive match in straight sets, beating qualifier Mia Pohankova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2. Ponhankova had taken out No. 5 seed Hannah Klugman of Great Britain in the second round. Penickova faces unseeded Rose Marie Nijkamp of the Netherlands, who beat No. 15 seed Katie Rolls 6-2, 6-2. With her limited experience at the top level of the ITF Junior Circuit, Penickova is playing most players for the first time, as she is with the 18-year-old Nijkamp. 

No. 10 seed Iva Jovic had the toughest battle of the three US girls, coming from a set down to defeat qualifier Eliska Tichackova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Jovic will play Samson, who also had to grind out a third round win, beating No. 14 seed Kaitlin Quevedo of Spain 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-2. Jovic and Samson played in the final of the ITF Junior Billie Jean King Cup last November in Spain, with Jovic's 6-1, 7-5 victory at No. 1 singles clinching the Cup for the United States.

The fourth quarterfinal features doubles partners Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia, the No. 1 seed, and Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic. Valentova has cruised through her first three matches, while Australian Open girls champion Jamrichova had a second three-set match today, beating No. 16 seed Teodora Kostovic of Serbia 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. Jamrichova and Valentova were to meet in the final of the J300 in Roehampton last year, but Valentova withdrew; they did play in the semifinals of the US Open junior championships in September, with Valentova earning a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Three all-US teams are through to the doubles quarterfinals, and at least one American will be in the doubles semifinals, with Alexander Razeghi and his German partner taking on Bigun and Jagger Leach.

Thursday's quarterfinal singles and doubles matches featuring Americans:

Iva Jovic[10] v Laura Samson[3](CZE)
Tyra Grant[4] v Jeline Vandromme(BEL)
Kristina Penickova v Rose Marie Nijkamp(NED)

Kaylan Bigun[5] v Henry Bernet[Q](SUI)

Maxwell Exsted and Cooper Woestendick[7] v Nicolai Budkov Kjaer(NOR) and Joel Schwaerzler(AUT)[1]
Kaylan Bigun and Jagger Leach[4] v Alexander Razeghi and Max Schoenhaus(GER)

Tyra Grant and Iva Jovic[4] v Noemi Basiletti(ITA) and Joy De Zeeuw(NED)

I heard last week that the boys Battle of the Sections, a pre-USTA Hard Court Nationals event for the 16s and 18s divisions, will be at Western Michigan University this year, July 27-30, after the first two editions of the event took place in Byron Center two years ago and Notre Dame last year. I still find the new format confusing and less compelling than the former tournament, which was more a college dual-match concept with all sections seeded and players order by ability.  The girls event will continue to be held, as it has been for many years, at the Claremont Club in Southern California. 

Registration for those events and for the USTA Nationals in August is open now. Links can be found at the National Junior Tournament Calendar.

The Midwest Closed is coming up later this month in Indianapolis, and the USTA Midwest section is hosting a College Showcase June 21st, a day prior to the start of play, at the North Central High School. For more information, and to register, click here