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US Open Juniors | Top seeds tumble in Girls draw

US Open Juniors | Top seeds tumble in Girls draw
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The top two seeds in the girls draw, both 2017 junior slam champions, saw their dreams of a second title evaporate on Tuesday in the second round of the US Open Junior Championships.

French Open champion Whitney Osuigwe, the No 1 seed, was beaten by Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia, 6-4 2-6 6-2, and the Australian Open champion, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, fell to America’s Elysia Bolton, 7-6(4) 6-2.

The 17-year-old Kharitonova was playing in just her third junior major and had not won a match at the first two this summer, but she played an excellent first set.

“The first set I play great, great serves and returns,” said the left-hander from Moscow.

“The second set, in the middle, I have some doubts, for me it’s so hard. I take the toilet break after second set and bring more energy and I come back and won.”

Kharitonova will take on another 15-year-old American in the third round, after Katie Volynets claimed the day’s only all-US match, defeating fellow wild card Natasha Subhash, 6-4 6-7(6) 6-1.

Australian-born American Elysia Bolton upset the 2nd seed, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, the reigning Australian Open champion, 7-6(4) 6-2, to create another stir in the draw.

Bolton, who picked up the first US Open win of her junior career on Tuesday, had lost to Kostyuk last year at the Eddie Herr, on Har-Tru.

Her parents are both from Sydney, Australia, but they moved to Chicago for her mother’s job when she was quite young and they now reside in Cold Spring Harbor, NY,  a close drive of the US Open home where she trains full-time.

“I lost to her at the Eddie Herr so I kind of knew what to expect,” Bolton said.

“I just know it [here] very well because I’m used to it. I think I competed really well and I didn’t really get down on myself in the match.”

Bolton is a high school senior and is committed to attend the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) next year where Stella Sampras, sister of Pete, is the head coach.

The 17-year-old New Yorker said the surface and the venue may have worked in her favour.

“That was a good match too, so I kind of knew what to expect,” said Bolton, who trains with the USTA at the National Tennis Center.

“I just know [the surface] really well and I’m used to it, so it doesn’t take me very long to adjust to it.”

As with her win on Tuesday, Bolton took a tiebreak in the first set, and during the set break, she consulted with coaches Jay Devashetty and Mark Bey, about improving on her start to the second set.

Bolton’s opponent in the third round will be No 15 seed Sofya Lansere of Russia.

American Cori Gauff, just 13 years old, offered up another upset when she scored a 6-4 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Carson Branstine of Canada.

Gauff reached the Grade 1 final at College Park, Maryland the week before the US Open started.

“At Roehampton it was my first time on grass,” Gauff said.

“She played a really good match, good serves, she had at least seven aces or more probably.

“And I was still sort of trying to adjust to grass, and it was my first ITF.  I saw what I had to work on, and I practiced a lot, and now I’m seeing success.”

Gauff went up 5-1 in the opening set, but couldn’t close out the set on her first try, with her unforced errors giving Branstine the game.

Serving for the set for a second time, Gauff spoke to her father on the changeover, making use of the rule change that allows coaching during a match in the junior event.

“He was telling me to calm down and go for safer targets,” Gauff said.

“He knows me like a book when I’m up 5-2 and it gets to 5-4. He knows I get nervous, so talking to him calmed me down. Obviously it worked, because I won the next game.”

The second set was much closer, but Gauff earned the crucial break at 4-4, with Branstine certain that a missed call had cost her an important point.

Gauff did not need two opportunities to close out the second set as she had the first, holding at love for the victory.

Her opponent will be another American wild card, Dalayna Hewitt, who beat No 12 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia, 6-4 6-3.

Hewitt, a 16-year-old from Ohio who trains at Club Med in Florida, has had a series of injuries, but when she is healthy, her game takes a backseat to no one on the junior circuit.

“I got injured earlier this year and I’m just trying to get back into it,” said Hewitt, who sported a bandage on her thigh during the match but said it was not a serious injury.

“In the beginning of the year, I sprained all the ligaments in my toes, it was an over-training thing. I couldn’t really do anything for two months. Then I was supposed to go over to Europe for the French and I sprained my hamstring. So I had to get my fitness back and try to get my points back through the summer.”

Hewitt lost in the first round at the Grade 1 in College Park, but took eventual champion Jaimee Fourlis of Australia to three sets there, and last week qualified and beat No 2 seed Branstine in the second round of the Grade 1 in Quebec.

“It’s actually really nice to see that,” Hewitt said of her game’s current level. “It’s finally getting up there. I’d see it in practice, but it’s finally good that I can see it in matches now.”

The fourth and final wild card to reach the round of 16 was Kelly Chen, who defeated No 6 seed Xin Yu Wang of China 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 after trailing 3-0 and two breaks in the final set.

“I thought I was going to lose, to be honest,” said the Duke freshman, who reached the final of the USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego last month.

Like Hewitt, Wang is a powerful player, but Chen was able to neutralise and anticipate many of Wang’s huge ground strokes.

“I just try to get every ball back,” Chen said.

“I also try to mix up with the slice a lot, a high ball here and there. I just wanted to mix up the pace a little bit. She kind of reminded me of Samantha Crawford, blasting balls here and there.”

The final game, with Wang serving to stay in the match, went to deuce three times.

Wang saved a match point with a good volley at 30-40, then hit a blistering backhand to earn her first game point.

After netting a forehand, Wang earned another game point with a big forehand, but a pair of errant backhands gave Chen a second match point and she converted when Wang made a forehand error.

Chen will face Emiliana Arango of Colombia in the third round.

The fifth US girl to advance to the third round was No 4 seed Amanda Anisimova, who defeated Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia, 6-2 6-2.

Anisimova will face qualifier Paula Arias Manjon of Spain next.

Uisung Park of Korea and Menelaos Efstathiou of Cyprus, who are competing at the US Open as part of the 2017 International 18 & Under ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund team, also advanced to the third round.

Park upset sixth seed Yshai Oliel of Israel, 5-7 6-4 6-0, while Efstathiou upset seventh seed Trent Bryde of the USA, 6-4 6-2.

Due to the forecast for rain on Wednesday, no junior matches, singles or doubles, are on the schedule.








About The Author

Barbara Wancke

Barbara Wancke is a Tennis Threads Tennis Correspondent who has been involved in the sport for over 40 years, not only as a former player, umpire and coach but primarily as an administrator and tennis writer contributing over the years to Lawn Tennis, Tennis World, and Tennis Today. She has worked with the Dunlop Sports Co, IMG and at the ITF as Director of Women’s Tennis, responsible, amongst other things, for the running of the Federation Cup (now Fed Cup), and acting as Technical Director for tennis at the Seoul Olympics (1988). She subsequently set up her own tennis consultancy Tennis Interlink and was elected to the Board of the TIA UK where she became the Executive Administrator and Executive Vice President until she stood down in July 2014 and is currently an Honorary Vice President.

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