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Sunday, July 7, 2024

Rain Again Disrupts First Round of Wimbledon Junior Championships; Top Seed Jamrichova and Qualifier Penickova Post Victories; Navarro and Paul Reach Quarterfinals; Tien Claims First Challenger Title; USTA National Clay Courts Seeds

©Colette Lewis 2024--

With good weather, the first round of the Wimbledon Junior Championships would be in the books after two days of play, but with second day of delays due to intermittent showers, only 33 of the 64 first round matches have been completed.

Rain arrived before the scheduled 11 a.m. start, and the first matches didn't begin until 1 p.m., leading to the almost immediate cancellation of the matches that were sixth on. When the rain returned, no matches had yet been completed, but after two more delays, nine boys matches and eight girls matches were finished before darkness suspended play.

One of the lucky girls to finish a match was top seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia, who persisted through two rain delays to defeat qualifier Christasha McNeil of New York 6-2, 6-3.

Although Jamrichova didn't defend her 2023 Roehampton ITF J300 title, she did get a dose of the English grass season weather last month.

"I was prepared, because a few weeks before, I played a 100K in Ilkley and it was basically the same, rained for four days straight," said the 17-year-old left-hander. "I played like two games, suspension for a whole day, so I kind of experienced this. But it's always tough to be in the match, then go down again to the dressing rooms, warmup again, walk to the court, warm up again, it's like a new match starting."

With McNeil competing in the main draw of a junior slam for just the second time, Jamrichova had the edge in experience, with this her ninth junior slam. 

"This is probably my last junior tournament here in Wimby," said the 2024 Australian Open champion. "So I just want to enjoy still the juniors, be here and play the slams. I already did that, it's a check for me that I won a junior slam, so now I just want to finish the journey with a smile on my face."

While one left-hander is ending her junior slam career, another passed a significant milestone at the start of hers, with 14-year-old Annika Penickova earning her first junior slam victory with a 6-2, 6-0 decision over British wild card Hollie Smart in a 49-minute match that started after the evening's last rain delay.

Annika's twin sister Kristina has rocketed up the junior rankings this year, and is the ninth seed this week, while she has just now begun to find her own success after an injury led to a crisis of confidence.

"Toward the end of last year I had a pretty big foot injury and couldn't play for quite a while," said Penickova, who played two ITF women's W15s last month in Tunisia, qualifying for one and winning two main draw matches. "That lowered my confidence a lot and I have to have confidence to play well. So that dropped, I wasn't feeling it, wasn't playing well. But now, when we're practicing, we're playing points and I'm beating her and stuff, so I know I'm still there with her and shows me that I can be there as well, just as high if not higher."

Although Annika admits to some sibling rivalry, saying "it's not squeaky clean," she describes their relationship as that of typical identical twins. "We're really close, we're each other's best friend, and will tell each other things we don't want anyone else to know."

The Penickovas, who reached the doubles quarterfinals in the 2023 US Open, will be playing their second slam together this week, hoping to add to the seven ITF Junior titles they have already collected.

In addition to Annika Penickova, only one other US junior has advanced to the second round, with Matt Forbes making his Wimbledon debut a successful one with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over British wild card Conor Brady.

Trevor Svajda, who has a played a semester of college tennis at SMU and received entry via his ATP ranking, made the decision to compete at Wimbledon for the first time, both to experience grass court tennis and to visit his girlfriend, a fellow SMU student who is studying in London this year.  Although he fell to No. 7 seed Hayden Jones of Australia 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-3, the 18-year-old Californian didn't regret his decison to compete on grass the past two weeks.

"Being here is amazing, and playing a slam every once in a while is not bad," said Svajda, who hopes to play in several Challengers this summer when he returns to the United States. "I just wanted to get some matches on the grass, that was the first priority, and I wanted to travel abroad; I'd never been out of the country."

Svajda said he is expecting to return to SMU, with his main focus not on his ATP ranking but on improving.

"I just want to develop, mature, get stronger," said Svajda, who is planning to play Kalamazoo again after reaching the final last year. "I'm ready game-wise, but I definitely could be more physical, so I think I'll get stronger in college for a while. This next year just matters for improving, not about winning every match. Everyone can hit the ball, it just comes down to the mental and physical part."

There are no second round singles matches on Monday's schedule, although there are first round boys doubles matches. The weather forecast is better than it has been the past two days, with a less than 50 percent chance of rain during the day.

Sunday's first round junior matches featuring Americans:
Kaylan Bigun[1] v Maximilian Carrier[WC](GBR) postponed
Kase Schinnerer[Q] v Jamie Diack[WC](GBR) postponed
Cooper Woestendick[15] v Tom Sickenberger[Q](GER) postponed
Matthew Forbes d. Conor Brady[WC](GBR) 6-4, 6-1
Jangjun Kim[9](KOR) d. Jack Kennedy 6-3, 6-1
Jagger Leach leads Izan Almazan Valiente(ESP) 7-6(2)
Hayden Jones[7](AUS) d. Trevor Svajda 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-3 
Annika Penickova[Q] d. Hollie Smart[WC](GBR) 6-2, 6-0
Renata Jamrichova[1](SVK) d. Christasha McNeil[Q] 6-2, 6-3 
Iva Jovic[6] v Julie Pastikova(CZE) postponed
Tyra Grant[4] v Lilli Tagger[Q](SUI) postponed
Mika Stojsavljevic(GBR) d. Akasha Urhobo 6-3, 6-3  
Thea Frodin v Eliska Tichackova(CZE) postponed
Kristina Penickova[9] v Yelysaveta Kotliar(UKR) postponed
Shannon Lam v Mia Pohankova[Q](SVK) postponed

Monday's first round junior matches featuring Americans:
Kaylan Bigun[1] v Maximilian Carrier[WC](GBR)
Kase Schinnerer[Q] v Jamie Diack[WC](GBR)
Cooper Woestendick[15] v Tom Sickenberger[Q](GER)
Jagger Leach leads Izan Almazan Valiente(ESP) 7-6(2)
Iva Jovic[6] v Julie Pastikova(CZE)
Tyra Grant[4] v Lilli Tagger[Q](SUI)
Thea Frodin v Eliska Tichackova(CZE)
Kristina Penickova[9] v Yelysaveta Kotliar(UKR)
Shannon Lam v Mia Pohankova[Q](SVK)

College tennis was again in the spotlight Sunday at Wimbledon, with 2021 NCAA singles champion Emma Navarro(Virginia) and 2021 NCAA doubles finalist Lulu Sun(Texas) of New Zealand advancing to the quarterfinals. Navarro defeated No. 2 seed Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-3 and qualifier Sun beat wild card Emma Raducanu of Great Britain 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Tommy Paul also advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time with a 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 win over Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

Sunday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:
Emma Navarro[19] d. Coco Gauff[2] 6-4, 6-3
Jasmine Paolini[7](ITA) d. Madison Keys[12] 6-3, 6-7(6), 5-5 ret.
Jannik Sinner[1](ITA) d. Ben Shelton[14] 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(9)
Tommy Paul[12] d. Roberto Bautista Agut(ESP) 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2

Monday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:
Taylor Fritz[13] v Alexander Zverev[4]
Danielle Collins[11] v Barbora Krejcikova[31]

Learner Tien(USC) won his first ATP Challenger title today at the Bloomfield Hills Michigan 75 tournament, beating Nishesh Basavareddy(Stanford) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 18-year-old from Irvine California is up to 267 in the ATP live rankings and is now on a 20-match professional winning streak.

In yesterday's double final, top seeds Ryan Seggerman(Princeton, UNC) and Patrick Trhac(Idaho State, Utah) defeated wild cards Basavareddy and Ozan Baris(Michigan State) 4-6, 6-3, 10-6.

During one of the many rain delays today, I had time to look at the draws for next week's USTA National Clay Courts Championships. Below are the top 8 seeds in each division and a link to the draws and results pages on the USTA Playtennis website.

USTA Clay Court Nationals Top 8 Seeds:

1. Braeden Gelletich
2. Dylan Long
3. Ronit Karki
4. Mitchell Sheldon
5. Aidan Atwood
6. Lachlan Gaskell
7. Shaurya Bharadwaj
8. Jack Satterfield

1. Gus Grumet
2. Gregory Bernadsky
3. Liam Alvarez
4. Erik Schinnerer
5. Graeme Angus
6. Omar Rhazali
7. Lucas Smith
8. Arjun Prabhakar

1. Tristan Stratton
2. Akshay Mirmira
3. Mason Vaughan
4. Luca Sevim
5. Tabb Tuck
6. Victor Pignaton
7. Gadin Arun
8. Carter Jauffret

1. Daniel Gardality
2. Evaan Mohan
3. Pranav Vignesh
4. Michael Chervenkov
5. Tony Xu
6. Blount Williams
7. Davidson Jackson
8. Ayush Ananthuni

1. Claire Hill
2. Anita Tu
3. Sophia Holod
4. Blair Gill
5. Katie Spencer
6. Addison Bowman
7. Bella Payne
8. Lera Alexin

1. Olivia Traynor
2. Alexandra Wolf
3. Carlota Moreno
4. Reagan Levine
5. Lyla Middleton
6. Riley Lepsi 
7. Kennedy Drenser-Hagmann
8. Lyla Messler

1. Reiley Rhodes
2. withdrew
3. Enya Hamilton
4. Daniela Del Mastro
5. Allison Wang
6. Savannah Schmitz
7. Elle Groslimond
8. Emma Prose

1. Nadia Poznick
2. Leala Kramer
3. Isha Manchla
4. Roxanne Luu
5. Anna Kapanadze
6. Jacqueline Nick
7. Tara Guhan
8. Violetta Mamina