US Open Juniors | Top seeds begin Junior Girls campaign
In girls’ action at the US Open on Labor Day Monday, top seeds Whitney Osuigwe and Marta Kostyuk came through although the second seed from the Ukraine survived a scare.
Kostyuk overcame a first-set loss against Sada Nahimana to win the next 12 games and the match, needing only 42 minutes to sweep the final two sets.
Osuigwe, a 15-year-old Floridian who won the French Open girls’ singles title less than two months after turning 15, earned her first US Open win, 6-1 6-4, over Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine.
The top seed did not have much success on her last two visits to the US Open, playing the qualifying tournament last month, and last year, as a wild card into the juniors.
Playing on the Grandstand, one of the three main show courts, the 15-year-old French girls champion was able to show a large crowd all the facets of her game in her straight sets win over qualifier the Ukrainian.
“It was great,” Osuigwe said when asked how she felt when she secured her first US Open win.
“It’s been a great summer for me, so I had some confidence coming in here. I didn’t have that the previous two years, and obviously I’m more experienced with the junior slams this year.”
The American, who lost in the semi-finals of the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships as the No 8 seed, was well aware that two seeded American girls lost their opening-round matches on Sunday.
“We’ve all been doing pretty well this year – obviously, a lot of the girls went out yesterday,” said Osuigwe. “But I just tried to worry about myself.”
It obviously worked for Osuigwe since she won her first-ever match at the US Open nearly two weeks after she lost in women’s qualifying.
Osuigwe first played junior qualifying in New York as a 13-year-old before being wild-carded into the main draw last year, losing both times.
“Before this I had never won a match at the US Open, so it was pretty amazing today,” said Osuigwe, who admitted that the US Open is different than any other major she has played in.
“Yeah, New York’s a lot louder. There’s a lot more energy…It’s been a good summer for me so far, so I had some confidence coming in here.”
Osuigwe said some of that self-assurance stems from the many ways she can win a point.
“I’m a pretty confident player, but I know that I have other things I can use,” said Osuigwe, who, like Bilokin, trains at the IMG Academy.
“Like I do have a pretty good defensive game, so if I need to change up and go to that, I know that I can. It’s the confidence I have in the variety of my game.”
Osuigwe’s opponent on Tuesday will be Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia.
16th seed Liang En Shou of Taipei posted a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Daniela Vismane of Latvia.
An Australian Open singles quarter-finalist at the beginning of the year, the 16-year-old Liang is playing the US Open for the first time.
She discovered tennis when she was 6-years-old after following another pursuit.
“At first, I play for exercise,” she said.
“I played piano before, but my mom wanted me to have exercise. No, I don’t play piano anymore. I liked it, but I like tennis more.”
The 9th seed, American Sofia Sewing, who couldn’t convert three match points in the second set, battled hard, but ultimately lost to Alina Charaeva from Russia in two hours, 54 minutes, 5-7 7-6 7-5.
Last year, another American, Elysia Bolton, was an on-site alternate for the US Open Junior Championships, which are held on the very courts where she trains year-round.
Bolton did not get in to the singles or doubles draw, a disappointment the 17-year-old put to rest on Labor Day by beating Yuki Naito of Japan 7-6(4) 6-3 in the first round of the 2017 Junior Championships.
“Last year, I got a little badge because I signed in as an on-site alternate and they spelled my name wrong on it,” Bolton said.
“So I hung it in my bathroom, and said, ‘I’m getting into the main draw next year, without a wild card, nothing, I’m getting in.
“So I was happy to get in and I was like OK, I have to do this now, I want to get this, because it’s my home courts. I looked at [the badge] every day, it’s still in my bathroom.”
Bolton got off to a slow start against Naito, but began finding her game in the latter half of the first set.
She won a tight tiebreak with a backhand winner to take the first set, and got the crucial game in the second set with Naito serving at 3-3.
Naito was up 40-0 in the 16-minute game, but ultimately could not convert on any of her eight game points, while Bolton finally closed out the game on her fourth break point.
“When I got my [break point] I would kind of overplay, so on the last one, I was like OK, I need to play my game and stay calm and pretend like I’m down an ad rather than up an ad,” said Bolton, who held for 5-3 and broke again to claim the match.
Bolton received coaching from USTA National Coach Jay Devashetty and Mark Bey, who worked with her for many years in Chicago before she moved New York several years ago.
“I thought it was great,” said UCLA recruit Bolton, whose supporters at the match included UCLA coaches Stella Sampras Webster and Rance Brown and by former Bruin star Jennifer Brady, who had lost her fourth round match on Arthur Ashe to WTA No 1 Karoline Pliskova earlier in the day.
“I got into a bit of a rut in the first set and my coach was able to talk me out of it. I trained a little bit working on the whole coaching on the side thing, so I thought that helped a lot and I like it a lot.”
Next up for Bolton is Kostyuk, the Australian Open girls champion and second seed.
Other Americans girls picking up their first slam and first US Open wins were wild cards Coco Gauff, Dalayna Hewitt and qualifier Nikki Redelijk.
Caty McNally has won many junior slam matches, but collected her first at the US Open on Monday, although she did have a win in women’s qualifying last month.
2017 San Diego finalist Kelly Chen, playing in her third US Open Junior Championship, earned her third win at the USTABJK National Tennis Center.
Other American girls who will carry the flag into round two include 13-year-old Cori Gauff and 15-year-old Caty McNally, who both advanced in straight sets.
The weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday currently calls for rain, so all second round matches will be played Tuesday, rather than split between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first round of boys doubles is complete, but seven girls first round doubles matches will be played Tuesday, with all boys second round doubles matches also on the schedule for Tuesday.