By Steve Pratt
CARSON, Calif.,Â â€“ Eight of the ITF world-ranked Top 50 junior girl tennis players, including two from Southern California, will contest the eighth annual USTA International Spring Championships taking place beginning Monday at the Home Depot Center.
Reigning Australian Open Junior Champion Taylor Townsend will hold down the top-seeded spot in the 64-player singles draw in the Grade 1 event. The 15-year-old Townsend, from Stockbridge, Ga., made international headlines back in January when she won a three-set final against a No. 4 seeded Russian player at Rod Laver Arena. Just a day before, Townsend paired with best friend Gabby Andrews of Pomona, Calif., to win the Aussie Open doubles title.
Townsend is the No. 2-ranked girlsâ€™ player in the world and teamed with Andrews to win the Carson ISC doubles title last year, although she fell in the second round in singles to No. 5 seeded Ellen Allgurin of Sweden. Andrews comes into Carson as the No. 4 seeded player ranked No. 34 in the world while future UCLA Bruin Kyle McPhillips of Willoughby, Ohio, is No. 2 and No. 11 in the world. Chalena Scholl is the No. 3 seed at No. 15 in the world.
â€œItâ€™s another strong field of both girls and boys in the 18s, as well as the 16s,â€ said John Lansville, the tournament director who also serves as the director of the USTA Training Center â€“ West. â€œTaylor is the head of the class, of course, but you have to watch out for the others like Gabby, Kyle, Chalena, Samantha (Crawford) and so many other strong competitors.â€
Defending champion Crawford (No. 42) of Atlanta will be the No. 5 seed. She upset Madison Keys, who was ailing from a pulled stomach muscle, in last yearâ€™s final, 6-1, 6-1. The 17-year-old Crawford is currently training at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla. San Diegoâ€™s Christina Makarova is at No. 6 (No. 43).
Current UCLA freshman Marcos Giron beat top-seeded Bjorn Fratangelo of Pittsburgh, Pa., in last yearâ€™s 18s final, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4.
This year, Mitchell Kruger (No. 16 ITF ranked) will hold down the top-seeded spot in the 18s with streaking Spencer Papa No. 2 (No. 23). Noah Rubin is No. 3 (No. 37), Mackenzie McDonald No. 4 (No. 56) and Alexios Halebian (No. 50) of nearby Glendale No. 5 (No. 58).
Past champions of the event include Sam Querrey (2005), Vania King (2005), Ryan Thacher (2007), Bradley Klahn (2008), Sloane Stephens (2009) and Melanie Oudin (2008), just a few who have gone on to bigger and better things on the pro and collegiate circuit.
Singles qualifying will take place this Saturday and Sunday with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ 16s on Saturday, April 7, and boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ 18s on Sunday, April 8.
For more information on the tournament log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.