New York | Next Gen juniors line up in Flushing Meadows
Coco Gauff’s run at the US Open came to an end on Saturday against top seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, 6-3 6-0, but the feel-good stories for American women continued nonetheless, with qualifier Taylor Townsend and wild card Kristie Ahn advancing to the round of 16 with straight-sets wins.
Townsend defeated unseeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania 7-5 6-2, backing up her second round win over Simona Halep by continuing her commitment to serve and volley tennis., and she will play No 15 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada on Monday.
Other than Osaka, they were each contenders for honours in the junior ranks in previous years.
On Sunday, the next generation of champions will kick off their quests for Grand Slam glory, as the 2019 US Open Junior Championships begin at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Unfortunately, there is no British representation in the girls events, while only Arthur Fery appears in the boys draw after Harry Wendelken, James Story and Blu Baker all lost in the qualifying.
Baker, who was seeded 8, made it into the 2nd round with a 6-2 6-1 win over Italy’s Luciano Darderi, but lost thee to Blaise Bricknell from USA, 6-4 7-5.
Wendelken lost his opener to Aidan Mayo, 7-6(4) 0-6 6-3, while Story went down to Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard from France, 6-3 6-2.
In the girls’ singles event, a new major champion in guaranteed, while in the boys’ draw, the two top seeds will each look to add to their Slam haul in 2019.
Denmark’s Clara Tauson, Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez and Ukraine’s Daria Snigur, the girls’ singles winners at the first three majors of 2019, are not competing in Flushing Meadows.
With their absence, a streak will continue, with a 25th consecutive different girls’ singles Slam champion guaranteed, a run dating back to Belinda Bencic winning the French Open and Wimbledon junior titles in 2013.
The top seed is American Emma Navarro, the junior World No 4 and runner-up to Fernandez at the French Open, while the second seed is France’s Diane Parry, ranked No 6, who owns a flashy one-handed backhand reminiscent of another of her country’s greats, Amelie Mauresmo.
Parry reached the junior Wimbledon semi-finals this year, and thrilled her home fans as she became the youngest player this decade to win a main-draw match at the French Open as a women’s singles wild card in May.
Both teenagers earned wild cards into various iterations of the US Open women’s singles event, with Navarro falling in the first round of qualifying and Parry losing to Kristyna Pliskova in the main draw.
Other Americans outside of Navarro hoping to make a splash include 16-year-old No 3 seed Alexa Noel, who was runner-up in singles at Wimbledon, No 7 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, and Katie Volynets, the winner of the USTA Girls’ Nationals who fell to Bianca Andreescu in the women’s singles main-draw first round.
They are among 19 Americans overall in the girls’ draw.
Three US girls qualified at the Cary Leeds Tennis Center in the Bronx, joining 16 other Americans in the main draw, namely Elvina Kalieva, who defeated Kailey Evans, also of the US, 6-2 7-5; Skyler Grishuk making her main draw junior slam debut after a 2-6 7-5 6-4 win over Martyna Kubka of Poland; and Alexandra Yepifanova, who advanced with a 1-6 6-2 6-2 win over Jiangxue Han of China.
Unlike the girls’ field, the boys’ singles draw is headlined by the Top 2 players in the ITF junior rankings, Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki and Denmark’s Holger Rune.
Each teenager has won a Slam in 2019, with Mochizuki triumphing at Wimbledon and Rune winning in Paris at the French Open.
Mochizuki became the first Japanese player to reach the final of a boys’ singles Slam at the All England Club, and later ascended to World No 1 to top the field in New York.
While they look for their second Slams of the season, they’ll be joined in the title hunt by Americans Martin Damm, seeded No 3, and Toby Kodat, seeded No 6.
Fifteen-year-old Damm and 16-year-old Kodat, the USTA Boys’ 18s doubles winners, will take on the junior singles draw after making men’s doubles history on Thursday.
The wild-card team, by virtue of their national title, became the youngest men’s doubles team to win a US Open match in the Open era by beating Americans Mitchell Krueger and Tim Smyczek, 7-6 7-5, on Court 15.
The only men’s doubles team with a combined younger age to play at the US Open in the Open era was 15-year-old Larry Gottfried and 16-year-old John McEnroe in 1975, who advanced to the second round via a walkover.
The USTA Boys’ 18s singles winner, Zachary Svajda, who nearly won his first-round match in the men’s singles, also features in the boys’ singles draw as a wild card among 18 American players hoping for success at their home Slam.
Three US boys qualified on Saturday – Blaise Bicknell, who beat Blu Baker of Great Britain 6-4 7-5; wild card Cash Hanzlik, who defeated Roman Burruchago of Argentina 6-2 6-1; and Kalamazoo 16s finalist Aidan Mayo, who came back to beat Stefan Storch of Australia 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.