The acceptances for the 2015 Australian Open Junior Championships, which will take place January 24-31 in Melbourne, were released Wednesday. As usual for any junior slam, the list of those competing is unlikely to include everyone on the current acceptance list, and with the withdrawal deadline January 13th, the field won't really shape up until after that.
CiCi Bellis entered, but is not expected to play, opting instead for Pro Circuit events in the US. Other US girls accepted into the main draw are: Orange Bowl champion Sonya Kenin, Raveena Kingsley, Usue Arconada and Michaela Gordon. Jessica Ho, Mia Horvit, Raquel Pedraza, Madison Bourguignon and 2013 quarterfinalist Olivia Hauger have been accepted into the qualifying.
US boys on the acceptances list include Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh, who told me at the Orange Bowl that they intend to play it, with Reilly Opelka, William Blumberg and Sameer Kumar also receiving acceptance into the main draw. Kalman Boyd is the only American currently in the qualifying, although Ulises Blanch is just one spot out of qualifying, and will certainly move in as withdrawals happen.
One of the most intriguing names on the boys acceptance list is 17-year-old Romain Safiullin of Russia, who has won four straight Futures and is now ranked 333 on the ATP computer.
The complete acceptance lists can be found at the ITF junior tournament page.
I spent the second day of the Junior Orange Bowl at Key Biscayne's Crandon Park, the site of the Girls 14s tournament's early rounds. I saw at least a few points of all the main draw matches, but I was also committed to updating my photo library, so I didn't stay at any match long. The vast areas between courts counterbalances the excellent viewing and camera positions, but toward the end of the day, I was able to sit down for a few minutes and watch two Midwest girls, playing side by side. No. 6 seed and Eddie Herr 14s finalist Caty McNally had no trouble in her match with Daria Lukyanova of Russia, breezing to a 6-1, 6-0 victory in the afternoon's warm sunny and calm conditions.
Elysia Bolton, one of eight No. 9 seeds, had more difficulty with the hard-hitting Varvara Gracheva, also of Russia, but Bolton came through with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Russia had plenty of winners however, with top seeds Olesia Pervushina and Anastasia Potapova both advancing in straight sets. The only top eight seeds failing to reach the round of 32 was No. 8 Olga Danilovic of Serbia, who lost to Dalila Said of Egypt 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. Last year's 12s champion, Hurricane Tyra Black, who received a wild card into this year's tournament, lost to No. 3 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Two Top 8 seeds lost in the Boys 14s, with No. 8 seed Marko Miladinovic of Serbia losing to Chen-jui Ho of Taiwan 6-2, 6-3 and No. 6 seed Patrick Sydow of Venezuela, an Eddie Herr 14s semifinalist, falling to Andrew Fenty of the US 6-1, 6-3.
In the 12s, Spencer Brachman of the US, an Eddie Herr quarterfinalist, defeated No. 1 seed Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan 6-2, 6-2. And in a long and dramatic match that finished under the lights at Salvadore Park, Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain took out Eddie Herr semifinalist Dawid Taczala of Poland 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Heynold and Taczala battled for over three and half hours, with Taczala going up 2-0 in the third set, only to lose four straight games. He got the break back, but in the eighth game, Heynold appeared to cramp or pull a muscle in his calf. After a long, tough point, he crumpled in tears on the service line, receiving medical attention from the trainer, but he continued, and Taczala was broken when the game resumed. Heynold, not looking as energetic as he had earlier, managed to hold serve to win the match, with Taczala's aggressive errors ending most of the points.
In the girls 12s, the only No. 1 seed to fall was Naomi Cheong of the US, who lost to 10-year-old Cori Gauff, the reigning USTA 12s Clay Court champion, 7-6(8), 6-2.
Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site. Check the Junior Orange Bowl website for more coverage.