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Monday, July 8, 2024

First Round Complete at Wimbledon Junior Championships, with Top Seed Bigun, Roehampton Finalist Jovic Earning Victories; Wild Card Ceban Continues Grass Success Ousting Fifth Seed; Fritz's Comeback Makes Two US Men in Quarterfinals; Spizziri Wins Another $25K

©Colette Lewis 2024--


A year ago, Iva Jovic was missing her first opportunity to compete at the Wimbledon Junior Championships, with a serious injury keeping her out of competition for five months. After waiting an extra day due to rain on Sunday, the 16-year-old from Southern California finally made her debut at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, posting a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Julie Pastikova of the Czech Republic.

"I just remember being at home, and I was on crutches this time last year," Jovic said. "I was on ESPN Plus, watching all of my friends all day. It was summer, I didn't have too much school to do, so I was obsessed, watching all the scores, following all the matches. It's definitely nice to be here on the tennis court than to be on my couch in Los Angeles."

Jovic, seeded sixth this week, reached the final of last week's ITF J300 in Roehampton, her first grass tournament, although due to rain, the final was played on indoor hard. Jovic lost to Teodora Kostovic of Serbia 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), while claiming the doubles title with Tyra Grant.

"I think that was a disadvantage to me," Jovic said of the move indoors. "I don't know how many days in my life I've played indoor hard court; in SoCal we don't have that. Hats off to her, she played some good tennis last week, but I was right there."

Jovic had been told she had the game to excel on grass, but was wary until she finally competed on it.

"I've had coaches tell me the grass would suit me, but I didn't really know what to expect, because clay was supposed to be horrible for me, considering the way I play, and I've had some solid results on clay, so I'm like, you know what? who knows?," 
Jovic said.

"But now, I'm technically undefeated on grass, if you don't count the indoor hard final," Jovic joked. "I'm a little mad at ITF for having it 83 percent win percentage on grass, with no note the final was on hard court."

Jovic had no trouble in the first set Monday against Pastikova, but the 16-year-old Czech served for the second set at 5-3, when Jovic's level dropped serving at 3-4, 40-15. But Jovic rode some well-timed anger to claim the next four games and her first Wimbledon victory.

"I honestly just got a little pissed off at myself when I got broken," Jovic said. "We don't need to be here another hour, so let's be a little more intense with our feet, focus, and that helped me."

Jovic will face Charo Esquiva Banuls of Spain in the second round Tuesday.

Boys top seed Kaylan Bigun extended his junior slam winning streak to eight matches, with the Roland Garros boys champion defeating 16-year-old British wild card Max Carrier 6-0, 6-3. 

Bigun knows he is viewed differently now than he was at last year's Wimbledon Junior Championships, when he reached the quarterfinals unseeded.

"Obviously all these people have expectations, you have an aura around you a little bit more," said the 18-year-old left-hander from California, who is now training in Orlando. "This was a tournament I marked on my calendar at the beginning of the year, it is one of my favorite places to play. I wanted to enjoy it, because I don't know how many junior tournaments I have left, so I wanted to come here and experience every thing that's Wimbledon. I definitely have good memories from last year, cause this was the first slam I made a push into the later rounds, so it definitely is special. The grounds are unreal, the all-white factor, you feel like you're playing in a part of history, the players that have played here and the people who have come to this tournament."

Bigun is still planning to join the UCLA Bruins this fall, although a junior slam title does present options that may not have been there before.

"I'm taking it week by week, but for now, the plan is still for college tennis," Bigun said. "I'm super stoked, the coaches and guys, everyone is really welcoming and I feel like family there. I am really excited to attend."

Bigun will face incoming Kentucky freshman Thomas Faurel of France in Tuesday's second round, after Faurel defeated Maximo Zeitune of Argentina 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

Although the top four seeds in both draws advanced to the second round, No. 5 seed Luca Preda of Romania was eliminated by 15-year-old wild card Mark Ceban of Great Britain. Ceban had won the first set 7-6(2) on Sunday before the match was suspended, then returned today to take the second set 6-4.

Ceban, who won the Wimbledon 14U tournament last year, earned his wild card by winning the British National 16s championship, but had already marked himself as a threat when he reached the Roehampton semifinals last week, again as a wild card.

"Playing here last year helped me quite a lot, to feel comfortable, to try to keep my focus," Ceban said. "Playing here before brings back good memories, I have confidence here. You have to believe you can beat these guys, and I've focused on holding my service games."

Being much younger than most of the Roehampton and Wimbledon Junior competitors means Ceban doesn't have much knowledge of his opponents, but he did have a chance to watch watch Preda at Roehampton, where the Romanian was a quarterfinalist.

"I was trying to play aggressive, dictate the points more," said Ceban, who has been working with Alastair Filmer for the past several months and credits that relationship with his recent results. "Play front-foot tennis, really commit to my shots, and it worked out."

Ceban's second round opponent Tuesday is Hoyoung Roh of Korea.

The other British wild card to produce an upset Monday was 17-year-old Flora Johnson, who beat No. 7 seed Alena Kovackova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2.

Three first round boys doubles matches were completed before drizzle halted play for the day at around 6 p.m., but boys doubles will now be put on hold, with only second round singles and girls first round doubles on the schedule for Tuesday. Unfortunately there is currently an 80 percent chance of rain in the forecast by early afternoon.

Monday's first round junior results of Americans:

Kaylan Bigun[1] d. Maximilian Carrier[WC](GBR) 6-0, 6-3
Kase Schinnerer[Q] d. Jamie Diack[WC](GBR) 7-5, 6-3
Cooper Woestendick[15] d. Tom Sickenberger[Q](GER) 6-3, 6-2
Jagger Leach d. Izan Almazan Valiente(ESP) 7-6(2), 7-5

Iva Jovic[6] d. Julie Pastikova(CZE) 6-1, 7-5
Tyra Grant[4] d. Lilli Tagger[Q](SUI) 6-4, 7-6(3)
Eliska Tichackova(CZE) d. Thea Frodin 6-4, 6-3 
Kristina Penickova[9] d. Yelysaveta Kotliar(UKR) 6-2, 6-1
Mia Pohankova[Q](SVK) d. Shannon Lam 6-2, 6-3

Tuesday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:
Kristina Penickova[9] v Sonja Zhenikhova(GER)
Tyra Grant[4] v Mayu Crossley(JPN)
Annika Penickova[Q] v Jeline Vandromme[10](BEL)
Iva Jovic[6] v Charo Esquiva Banuls(ESP)

Kaylan Bigun[1] v Thomas Faurel(FRA)
Matthew Forbes v Naoya Honda(JPN)
Jagger Leach v Jan Kumstat[6](CZE)
Kase Schinnerer[Q] v Federico Cina[3](ITA)
Cooper Woestendick[15] v Daniele Rapagnetta(ITA)

Taylor Fritz's comeback from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev of Germany gives the United States two men's Wimbledon quarterfinalists for the first time since 2000, when there were three: Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jan-Michael Gambill. No. 13 seed Fritz, who beat No. 4 seed Zverev 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-3, joins Tommy Paul in the quarterfinals. Fritz and Paul met twice in junior slam finals in 2015, with Paul winning Roland Garros and Fritz claiming the US Open. 

Monday's fourth round results of Americans:
Taylor Fritz[13] d. Alexander Zverev[4] 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-3
Barbora Krejcikova[31] d. Danielle Collins[11] 7-5, 6-3 

Tuesday's quarterfinals featuring Americans:
Emma Navarro[19] v Jasmine Paolini[7](ITA)
Tommy Paul[12] v Carlos Alcaraz[3](ESP)

I neglected to mention in last night's post that Eliot Spizzirri(Texas) won his second consecutive ITF men's $25,000 tournament Sunday, in Laval Canada. The two-time ITA Player of Year, seeded seventh, defeated qualifier Karl Poling(Princeton, North Carolina) 6-4, 6-2 in the final, after winning the Tulsa $25K title in June.

Qualifier Govind Nanda(UCLA) and No. 3 seed Stefan Dostanic(USC) met in the final of the SoCal Pro Series M15 in Lakewood California, with Nanda claiming a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 victory.

In the women's W15 Lakewood final, unseeded 19-year-old  Rachel Gailis(Florida) defeated qualifier India Houghton(Stanford) 6-3, 6-4 for her first pro title.