2014/10/25

Serena Williams and Roger Federer Both Begin Quest for 18th Major

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(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – A pair of 17-time major champions made the first step in their mutual quests for an 18th major on Tuesday night. No. 2 seed Roger Federer and No. 1 Serena Williams both took out opponents in straight sets at the US Open.

The 33-year-old Swiss Federer led off the night session with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) vwin over No. 76 Marinko Matosevic of Australia. With six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan cheering him on in his courtside guest box, Federer pulled off the shot of the night – between the legs shot, facing backwards to the net, which hit his opponent in his lower back.

Federer admitted that Jordan, now 51, was a childhood idol of his. In an interview with ESPN, Jordan said that he knew nothing about tennis and said that Federer is a good athlete and that he played basketball.

“It’s just amazing having Michael here,” Federer said after the match. “Growing up he was my big sporting idol. … Having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it.”

“He was just my hero of all sports,” Federer said in his news conference. “That’s what he was for me growing up. Besides Edberg and Becker being my tennis idols, I had Jordan as my all sports idol. I don’t remember having a Jordan jersey, as such, really. I just remember when I was younger, in Germany it was really big on the German TV stations. I think every Sunday they had unbelievable big NBA highlights. That’s where I saw him doing all his moves. I wasn’t necessarily a Chicago Bulls fan or anything like that. It’s just I was into him, into like the incredible athlete, you know, just being that guy who was carrying basketball at the time. So I guess that’s what inspired me.”

While Federer was entertaining an idol of his with his play, Serena Williams was defeating a player who idolizes her. Williams played almost flawlessly in dispatching 18-year-old fellow American Wild Card Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-1.

The two-time defending US Open champion, soon-to-be 33-year-old Williams made only 8 unforced errors in a match which lasted less than an hour.

Townsend discussed her appreciation of Williams in press: “I think I appreciate the fact that, number one, she loves the game so much. I think for anyone who’s watched her career progress, we have seen the ups and downs. She’s come through a lot of adversity. I think the most roaring time for me when I was watching her play was when she won that Australian Open, when everyone was completely doubting her, no one said she would win, she was totally out of shape, she was this, that, everything in the book. She literally fought and she beat Sharapova 1-0, 2-0, something ridiculous. But I’ve never seen someone so intense and so, like, driven to win, you know? I gained so much respect for her. Moving forward, I’ve just seen her love the game even more. The older she gets, the more she enjoys being out there and playing. I think her perspective has changed, having fun with what she’s doing. I think the wins are just making it even better.”

“I think it was an interesting match,” Williams said. “I thought she played really well. She started out super strong. She did a good job.”

“I think Taylor is a really great player. I believe she does everything well. She’s one of the few players that can come to the net and volley, as well as she has unbelievable hand speed with her racquet. She’s really unbelievable.”

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Victoria Duval Joins Pack of Young U.S. Women into Second Round of Wimbledon

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

(June 24, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 114 Victoria Duval came through Wimbledon qualifying with a back injury last week. This week she’s taken out 29th seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of Wimbledon. Born in Miami, the 18-year-old of Haitian heritage, playing Wimbledon for the first time, joined a group of young American women making their All England Club debut including Madison Keys and Alison Riske advancing to second round.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

She announced herself last year when she took out 2011 U.S. Open Champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the U.S. Open. ” That was one of my best playing days that I can remember,” said Duval.

“I have my expectations of myself,” Duval said. “I’m not thinking about following up a win. I’m just thinking about winning all the time.”

She said it was “pretty crazy” to think she was actually playing at Wimbledon and that it did not sink in until during the third set.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

Madison Keys, 19, who won her first WTA title three days ago in Eastbourne, finally got in the win column against Monica Puig, defeating the woman from Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-3.

“She’s a great player and we’ve played a couple of times,” Keys said.  “She’s beaten me a couple of times.

“But I was really just trying to go in and just stick to my game plan, not really worry about who is on the other side of the net.”

Alison Riske joined the USA party by upsetting 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

Missing out on the winning experience was wild card Taylor Townsend who fell to 31st seed Klara Koukalova 7-5, 6-2

“Definitely it was a great experience,” Townsend said despite the loss.  “I’m really glad that I was able to get the wildcard and be here, first and foremost.

“I definitely am not pleased about my match, but it’s just a learning experience really.  I’m just going to take what I’ve learned over the past two slams.  I’m going to go back home.  I’m going to work extremely hard and get ready for the US Open Series.

“I have tons of tournaments to look forward to and a lot of great things are ahead, but it’s time to just put my head down and work again.”

“There are a lot of things I still need to work on in my game,” said Duval. Improving mentally, physically and getting stronger.”

Duval will face an opponent younger than herself in Belinda Bencic.

“I’m looking forward to it, it should be very exciting,” said an enthusiastic Duval.

“My goal is to win a couple of more rounds,” she said. “You come into a tournament hoping to win it.”

“My goal was top 100,” which she has reached by virtue of her win on Tuesday. “Keep improving keep winning.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open

296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US . Open Winner Sam Stosur

Clock Strikes Midnight for Cinderella Victoria Duval

 

 

 

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Taylor Townsend Striving for Top 50

 

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(March 6, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – Just a year ago a 16-year-old Taylor Townsend made her pro debut at the BNP Paribas Open knocking off top 100 player Lucie Hradecka. A year later the young American, another wildcard and a year wiser, Townsend tops No. 49 Karin Knapp 7-6(1), 6-1, Back in January Knapp extended Maria Sharapova to the brink at the Australian Open.

The match was not a clean one, both combatants combined for 53 unforced errors. “ Neither of us had a rythym on serve,” Townsend said in regard to the back and forth first set. I was just trying to stay solid on my returns, just trying to make her play every single ball.

The former Junior No. 1 said the biggest improvement has been her focus.

“I’m happy with my progress, as far as where I’ve been going, what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, both on and off the court.

“I’m happy with my progress over the last couple of months.”

“My mental game has gotten a lot better. My coaches and I have been stressing being very mentally tough and learning the game, learning how things work,” Townsend said. “We’ve been stressing that a lot, watching a lot of matches and trying to understand how to play when pressure hits, how to play when you’re up, how to play when you’re down. Things like that.”

Townsend’s focus was tested, just before her news conference when she followed her favorite player Roger Federer into the interview room – as he was leaving, she was entering.

“I tried not to look,” she said with a laugh. “Focus, Taylor focus! That’s what I’ve been working on. Focus please. I played it off well.”

Townsend’s goals for 2014 are to make the top 50 in singles and in doubles. “I’m pretty far away in singles (No. 337), in doubles I’m 189 so that’s not hard. You can have a few good tournaments, here and there and that can shoot up easily. Off the court I’m just continuing to work on myself.

A big test comes for Townsend in the second round when she plays the Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta, the 20th seed at the BNP Paribas Open.

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Taylor Townsend and Stefan Kozlov Lead US Juniors into US Open Junior Championships

 

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 25, 2013 – Former world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend (17, Chicago) and Stefan Kozlov (15, Pembroke Pines, Fla.), the youngest player in the Top 20 of the world junior rankings, lead the Americans accepted to play in the US Open Junior Championships, September 1-8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

 

Townsend, currently No. 5 in the world junior rankings, will play in her third junior Grand Slam in 2013 after reaching the finals at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the French Open. She made history in 2012 by finishing the year as the world’s top-ranked junior – the first American girl to hold that distinction in 30 years – before turning pro this year.

 

Kozlov, the only 15-year old in the Top 20 of the world junior rankings at No. 15, leads the American boys in the main draw after reaching the junior quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Kozlov, who trains out of the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., played his first ATP-level main draw match in July in Newport, R.I., pushing then-No. 113 Michal Przysiezny to three sets, nearly winning in a second-set tiebreak.

 

New York-area players competing in the US Open Junior Championships main draws include, on the girls’ side, No. 10 Louisa Chirico (17, Harrison, N.Y.), the 2013 Wimbledon and French Open junior semifinalist who trains at the home of the US Open at the USTA Training Center – East, and No. 32 Jamie Loeb (18, Ossinning, N.Y.). On the boys’ side, No. 26 Noah Rubin (17, Rockville Centre, N.Y.) will return for his second US Open junior main draw appearance.

 

Also accepted to the girls’ main draw are No. 21 Christina Makarova (17, San Diego), and Sachia Vickery (18, Hollywood, Fla.). Accepted for qualifying (August 30-31) are No. 48 Johnnise Renaud (17, North Miami, Fla.), No. 67 Katrine Isabel Steffensen (17, Scarsdale, N.Y.), No. 76 Alicia Black (15, Boca Raton, Fla.) and Brooke Austin (17, Indianapolis). They are all competing to become the third straight American US Open girls’ singles champion, following Samantha Crawford (2012) and Grace Min (2011).

 

Americans accepted into the boys’ main draw are No. 29 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (18, Charlotte, N.C.), No. 44 Luca Corinteli (18, Alexandria, Va.) and No. 50 Martin Redlicki (17, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.). Accepted for qualifying are No. 59 Spencer Papa (17, Edmond, Okla.) and No. 82 Michael Mmoh (15, Temple Hills, Md.).

 

Overall, the girls’ field features 19 of the Top 20 juniors in the world, including top-ranked Belinda Bencic, of Switzerland, who won both junior singles titles at Wimbledon – where she defeated Townsend in the finals – and at the French Open. The boys’ field features 16 of the Top 20 juniors in the world, including 2013 Wimbledon junior champion Gianluigi Quinzi, of Italy, and French Open junior champion Christian Garin, of Chile.

 

Previous US Open girls’ champions include Coco Vandeweghe (2008), Victoria Azarenka (2005), Marion Bartoli (2001), Lindsay Davenport (1992), Jennifer Capriati (1989) and Zina Garrison (1981).

 

Past US Open boys’ champions include Jack Sock (2010), Andy Murray (2004), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2003), Andy Roddick (2000), Stefan Edberg (1983) and Pat Cash (1982).

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Q & A: Catching Up with Taylor Townsend at Roland Garros

 

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(June 5, 2013) PARIS – Being at Roland Garros is not all about running from Court Philippe Chatrier to Court Suzanne Lenglen for two weeks.

Out on the outside courts, die-hard tennis fans catch good doubles and junior action throughout the two weeks.

One U.S. junior has already enjoyed some success in making that tricky transition from the Juniors to the Pro Tour, notching up a win against the then-ranked 57, Lucie Hradecka, at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells this year.

Ros Satar caught up with the No. 1 junior for 2012 Taylor Townsend after a solid second round win against Croatia’s Jana Fett.

Ros Satar for Tennis Panorama News: Great win today –a couple of breaks here and there but you really did edge it out?

Taylor Townsend: It was good, she came out playing really well, she was serving really well and in the beginning she really wasn’t missing a ball.

We exchanged some breaks and there were a few times where I could have served and gone up a break and a hold but she broke.

But it was a good match, I was really happy.

RS: What was it like out there – it started out quite cloudy but probably by the time that you were playing, it looked quite nice?

TT: It was actually very nice, it got a little bit cloudy and it was a little windy at times.

RS: Enough to whip up that clay into your eyes?

TT: Exactly – it actually got into my eyes a little bit but I am not complaining – I’m tough [smiling]

RS: Is it strange playing the juniors having made your pro debut at Indian Wells

TT: It’s not weird, because I played all last year and I’m still 17 so it’s not really weird but it’s definitely an adjustment that you have to make between going from the pros to the juniors.

It’s nice to see all my friends [going back to juniors].

RS: How did it feel to get that win in Indian Wells, to player ranked 57 at the time?

TT: It was amazing – like one of the best feelings ever, I felt on top of the world

I went crazy, after I did it, I just went nuts like I was a little kid.

I told myself one point at a time, one point at a time, I switched the score round and stuff.

But I was actually on a roll, I was playing really well so I [tried] not to think about it.

RS: What’s the transition like –the biggest challenge and the biggest benefit?

TT: The biggest challenge s definitely the mental thing.

It’s really easy to change your game because the speed of the ball isn’t the same

It’s really easy for you to let up a little bit and not really play to win like you would against the pros.

You can get away with not going for your shots as much and stuff like that, because even though you’re playing juniors, you’re still working on a specific thing.

But the benefits are you get to play matches, good matches that help you compete.

Basically it’s a good opportunity to continue what we’re working on.

If you change the way that you play and the way we’ve been practicing, then yeah that would be a downfall.

If we continue to work on the same line that we have been, with our strokes and playing to win and aggressive style of play, then it’s a huge benefit playing the juniors.

RS: So basically each time you’re playing in the juniors, you’re concentrating on one thing to improve, and when you go to the pros it’s really a question of putting that all together and going for it?

TT: Exactly

RS: What are the goals that you’ve set yourself this year?

TT: My goal is I wanted to reach at least into the top 200 or better by the end of the year and I really didn’t set a goal for juniors because honestly at the beginning of the year my coach was in Australia so I didn’t really know what my schedule was going to be.

But basically my pro [goal] I think very attainable because I’m at 333 already and we’re only half way done with the year.

I think I can do it.

RS: About the demon dirt – how is it going playing on clay?

TT: Actually I love it, because the clay here is so nice, they take such good care of the courts, it’s just so smooth.

The courts are just like candy underneath your feet, you just slide so gracefully – it’s so beautiful

RS: It’s like ice-skating?

TT: Yeah exactly!

RS: Is it very much a part of your season, the clay in Europe in particular?

TT: Yeah it is.

You go from the Australian Open, and then you have your clay court season, then you have your grass court season and then you go back to hard court.

You’re on hard court six months of the year if [not] more, it’s nice to have the change up and learning how to maneuver, move and how to play and how to work the clay and how to work the grass, it’s really nice.

It makes the season, it makes it different, it gives it a little bit of a unique character.

RS: What is your view of all the US women that have been in the draw?  You started with 15, down to 3 but two real headliners tomorrow – how does that make you feel?

TT: I’m proud, honestly – Serena(Williams), Sloane (Stephens), Venus (Williams), they’re all making me so proud to be an American.

They’re putting on such a good face on women’s tennis, it’s amazing.

The guys as well, they’re doing very well – John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, all of them are doing really well.

They’re great inspiration for me to just keep working hard [especially] seeing Serena mostly – you keep working hard and she’s in her prime, she’s in the later stage of her career, so it just gives me really great encouragement just to keep working hard.

RS: Are they all quite supportive of the juniors coming up, if you run across them at various tournaments?

TT: Yeah – they’re so nice.

We all hit together and they’re very helpful with giving advice and stuff like that.

It’s just a matter of if I get nervous to ask them a question or not [laughs]

RS: What is your schedule now for the rest of the year?

TT: You and I have the same question [laughs]

I know I’m going to Birmingham after this and then I’m going to play the juniors at Eastbourne and Roehampton and then Wimbledon and after that I have no idea.

RS: Are you going to play the juniors at the rest of the majors this year?

TT: Yeah just the majors really, because US Open most likely, I’m not really sure.

We’re just doing it just to play matches really, and stay competitive because if I wasn’t I would come over here and only play one or two tournaments and then be done.

RS: I guess playing the majors, you get a small taste of what it’s like to play that big an event?

TT: Yeah, Exactly.

RS: Are you doing any sight-seeing, any fun stuff whilst you are here?

TT: Hopefully – I mean this year I’m playing doubles so I’m not at the site all day

I’m not playing two matches so I think my dad really wants to go out, this is their first time out.

I don’t know what to do see because I didn’t go sight-seeing last year so we’re all going to experience this together.

But [definitely] the Eiffel Tower and Champs Élysées and some other stuff.

I’m just asking the ladies in the locker room, and they’re helping me a lot.

[RS writes down a load of suggestions]

At the time of writing, Taylor was into the third round of the Girls’ Singles Draw at Roland Garros.

On Tuesday evening in Paris, Townsend received the International Tennis Federation award for being the top junior girl for 2012 at the ITF World Champions Dinner.  Townsend was the Australian Open 2012 Girls Junior Champion. She is the first American junior girl to end the year at No. 1 since Gretchen Rush in 1982.

 

Karen Pestaina contributed to this interview and report.

 

Related article:

2012 Townsend and Andrews Take Junior Girls Title

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Taylor Townsend to Compete in French Open Junior Championships

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

From the USTA – WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 13, 2013 – Taylor Townsend, the No. 1-ranked junior in the world at the end of 2012, will play in her first junior event of 2013 at the Roland Garros French Open Junior Championships June 2-8 in Paris.

 

Townsend finished last year as the No. 1-ranked junior in the world, becoming the first American girl in 30 years to hold that distinction. She remains No. 10 in the ITF world junior rankings despite thus far having played only professional tournaments in 2013. In her first WTA-level main draw match, Townsend beat then-No. 57 Lucie Hradecka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.

 

Townsend, who in 2012 won the Australian Open junior singles title and junior doubles titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, headlines an American girls’ contingent accepted to play in the French Open Junior Championship that includes Victoria Duval (17, Delray Beach, Fla.), currently No. 285 in the WTA rankings. In 2012, Duval won the USTA Girls’ 18s national title to earn a wild card into the US Open main draw, where she played Kim Clijsters in the first round.

 

Christina Makarova (16, San Diego), currently No. 11 in the ITF world junior rankings, No. 29 Sachia Vickery (18, Hollywood, Fla.) and No. 39 Jamie Loeb (18, Ossining, N.Y.) are also in the girls’ main draw, while No. 56 Louisa Chirico (16, Harrison, N.Y.), was accepted for qualifying.

 

Townsend, Duval and Vickery each train at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., while Chirico trains at the USTA Training Center – East in Flushing, N.Y.

 

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (18, Charlotte, N.C.), currently the top-ranked American junior boy at No. 16 in the world, leads the Americans accepted to play the boys’ main draw, followed by No. 19 Stefan Kozlov (15, Pembroke Pines, Fla.), No. 23 Noah Rubin (17, Rockville Centre, N.Y.), No. 38 Luca Corinteli (17, Alexandria, Va.) and No. 40 Spencer Papa (17, Edmond, Okla.). No. 49 Martin Redlicki (17, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) was accepted for qualifying.

 

Kozlov is the youngest player in the Top 20 of the world junior rankings and is the second youngest player in the French Open boys’ main draw. Rubin, who has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the world junior rankings, reached the quarterfinals of last year’s French Open Junior Championship, while Papa advanced to the third round last year.

 

Currently, Kozlov and Papa train at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Kwiatkowski and Redlicki previously trained there, Kwiatkowski for three years, and Corinteli trains at the Junior tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a USTA Certified Regional Training Center.

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Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Named 2012 ITF World Champions

(December 11, 2012) The ITF announced that Novak Djokovic of Serbia and American Serena Williams are the 2012 ITF World Champions. This is the second successive year Djokovic has received this honor, while Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the third time.

 

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the ninth time in 10 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the first time.

 

Canada’s Filip Peliwo and Taylor Townsend of USA are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Esther Vergeer of Netherlands and France’s Stephane Houdet. Vergeer becomes world champion for an astonishing 13th successive year.

 

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 4 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

 

Novak Djokovic finished on top of the rankings and as ITF World Champion for the second straight year. The 25-year-old successfully defended his Australian Open title and went on to reach the finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. Despite losing the No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer in July, he regained the top position in November and went on to win the ATP World Tour Finals. He won a total of six titles in 2012.

 

Djokovic said: “I am proud to have been named ITF World Champion for the second successive year. It was very difficult to follow up such a successful season in 2011, but it was extremely satisfying to win another Grand Slam title, reach two other major finals and finish the year at No. 1.”

 

Serena Williams’s superior record in the year’s major events sees her crowned Women’s World Champion ahead of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. The 31-year-old captured Olympic singles gold for the first time, and won Wimbledon and the US Open to take her total number of Grand Slam titles to 15. She went on to capture the year-end WTA Championships to finish the season with a tour-best seven titles and a 58-4 win-loss record.

 

Williams said: “It means a lot to be named ITF World Champion for the third time. It has been such an amazing experience this year to win the Olympics and two Grand Slam tournaments, and I look forward to having an awesome 2013.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “This has been another memorable year for our sport, highlighted by the most successful Olympic Tennis Event in history. In such a strong era for men’s tennis, it is a great achievement for Novak to retain his year-end No. 1 ranking, while on the women’s side Serena proved herself to be one of the finest competitors of all time.”

 

Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions after a year in which they captured their first Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon, having won bronze in Beijing. The brothers equalled the all-time record for Grand Slam doubles titles by capturing their 12th title at the US Open, and were also runners-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. They won five more events in 2012 to stand at 82 career titles.

 

Bob Bryan said: “Mike and I are very grateful for receiving this honor, and we’d like to thank the ITF for this prestigious award. This is one of our achievements that we are most proud of, and we look forward to celebrating it next year in Paris.”

 

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the first all-Italian pairing to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions. The duo captured their first two Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, and were also runners-up at the Australian Open. They won a tour-high eight titles during the year, including five successive tournament wins between April and June. They ended the year as the No. 1-ranked team.

 

Errani said: “We have had an amazing year and are proud to be named ITF World Champions. There have been so many highlights in singles and doubles, but we are very happy to be the first Italian pair to finish the season at No. 1. We’re already looking forward to next season.”

 

The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, Olympic Tennis Event and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

 

Filip Peliwo is only the second Canadian after Daniel Nestor to be named ITF World Champion in any category after securing the year-end No. 1 junior boys ranking. The 18-year-old became the first player since Mark Kratzmann in 1984 to reach all four junior Slam finals in a calendar year. He lost his first two finals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, before winning Wimbledon and the US Open.

 

Peliwo said: “This is such a great achievement and a huge honour to be recognised by the ITF for this award. I exceeded even my own expectations this past year and to have the year-end No. 1 ranking is something really special that I am proud of.”

 

Taylor Townsend is the first American girl since Gretchen Rush in 1982 to be named Junior World Champion. The 16-year-old captured her first major singles title at the Australian Open, and narrowly failed to achieve the Grand Slam in doubles, winning three titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. She also led her country to victory in the finals of the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

 

Townsend said: “It’s a great honor. I mean, there’s so much that goes into the title World Champion, and I’m honored and blessed that they would even crown me that.”

 

Stephane Houdet enjoyed a breakthrough year to be named Wheelchair World Champion for the first time at the age of 42. The Frenchman won his first Grand Slam singles title on home soil at Roland Garros to take over the No. 1 ranking, and stayed at the top for the rest of the year. He was also a singles silver medallist at the Paralympic Tennis Event and led France to victory in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

 

Houdet said: “This has been my best year with my first Grand Slam victory in my country in front of my friends and family, two Paralympic medals, and winning the World Team Cup. These are dreams come true, but also give me new dreams to continue along the same path.”

 

Esther Vergeer extended her winning streak to 470 matches en route to the year-end No. 1 wheelchair tennis ranking for the 13th consecutive year. The 31-year-old became tennis’s most successful Paralympian, winning her fourth successive singles gold in London. She won a total of 10 singles titles during the year, including the Grand Slam events at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

 

Vergeer said: “Again I am very proud to be the year-end No. 1. My main goal for this year was winning a gold medal in London, but being No. 1 at the end of this year is something that I have worked for all-year long. So it is a crown for all the hard work I put in.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I would like to pay tribute to all the 2012 ITF World Champions, who have contributed to a successful year for the sport at all levels.”

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Taylor Townsend Clinches Year-End No. 1 Junior Ranking at Orange Bowl

PLANTATION, Fla., Dec. 7, 2012 – One top seed stumbled at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships on Friday. Another found its footing on top of the world.

 

While 10th-seeded Laslo Djere of Serbia took down No. 1 Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-1, in the Orange Bowl Boys 18s draw quarterfinals at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.), the top seed in the Girls 18s draw, grinded out a 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(2) victory over No. 5 Carol Zhao of Canada.

 

With Townsend’s singles victory, and the doubles win of Great Britain’s Katy Dunne and Christina Makarova (San Diego) over Austria’s Barbara Haas and the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova, the 16-year old Townsend solidified her year-end ITF No. 1 junior ranking, becoming the first American girl to hold that position since Gretchen Rush in 1982.

 

Only Siniakova, the current world No. 3, could have caught Townsend in the year-end rankings, by winning the singles and doubles titles.

 

“When I step out onto the court, I really just play tennis,” said Townsend, who will turn pro beginning in 2013. “I mean, if I just play well and do what I know I can do, everything else will take care of itself.”

 

Meanwhile, Djere moves on to the boys 18s semifinals, where he’ll meet No. 9 seed Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.), who had little trouble with 6-foot-5 Deiton Baughman (Carson, Calif.) in Friday’s quarterfinals, seemingly breezing to a 6-2, 6-2 win.

 

“For sure, he’s got a great serve, and normally my game is to hit high and heavy and get the ball above the guy’s shoulders. But when the guy’s 6-5, his shoulders are a little bit higher than the rest of the people I’m playing,” Kwiatkowski said. “So, I had to figure out what to do, and I think before the match I had a good strategy with my coach, and I feel like that went pretty well.”

 

An American each advanced to Saturday’s Boys and Girls 16s finals. No. 12 seed Tommy Paul (Coconut Creek, Fla.) defeated Sameer Kumar (Carmel, Ind.), 6-0, 6-7, 6-2 in the semifinals, and Chloe Michele Ouellet-Pizer (Chapel Hill, N.C.) took down Germany’s Lisa Ponomar, 7-6(6), 7-5.

 

“I think this whole tournament I’ve competed really well. My second round, I was down, 5-4, and 30-all in the third set, so I was two points from losing. I just think I’ve played really clutch this tournament. I think on big points, before this, I’ve been rushing too much, so I’ve been trying to keep it longer on big points and not rush it,” Ouellet-Pizer said. “I can’t believe I’m in the finals. Either way, it’s a win-win, so I’m just going to play with no pressure and just see what happens.”

 

One of Paul’s coaches, meanwhile, is Timothy Neilly, the last American to win the Orange Bowl Boys 18s title, in 2004, who gave his student specific, if simple, advice.

 

“He just said, ‘Work the forehand cross-court,’” Paul said.

 

In doubles play, No. 7 Lamar Remy (Roslyn, N.Y.) and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada defeated Sumit Nagal of India and Dennis Uspensky (Atlantic Beach, N.Y.), 6-3, 6-3, for the Boys 16s title, while No. 2 Ponomar and Johnnise Renaud (North Miami, Fla.) defeated No. 6 Gloria Liang and Marie-Alexandre Leduc of Canada, 6-0, 6-1, for the Girls 16s title.

 

For updated draws and each day’s order of play, visit http://orangebowltennis.org.

Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships

 

Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Plantation, Fla.

 

Singles

 

Boys

 

18-and-under

 

Quarterfinals

 

(10) Laslo Djere, SRB d. (1) Gianluigi Quinzi, ITA, 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-1

(12) Elias Ymer, SWE d. (2) Frederico Ferreira Silva, POR, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1

(9) Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, USA d. Deiton Baughman, USA, 6-2, 6-2

(8) Filippo Baldi, ITA d. (3) Yoshihito Nishioka, JPN, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

 

16-and-under

 

Semifinals

 

(4) Andrey Rublev, RUS d. (14) Dennis Uspensky, USA, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1

(12) Tommy Paul, USA d. Sameer Kumar, USA, 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-2

 

Girls

 

18-and-under

 

Quarterfinals

 

(1) Taylor Townsend, USA d. (5) Carol Zhao, CAN, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(2)

(2) Katerina Siniakova, CZE d. Chalena Scholl, USA, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2

(7) Ana Konjuh, CRO d. (4) Belinda Bencic, SUI, 6-4, 6-2

(6) Marcela Zacarias, MEX d. Natalia Vajdova, SVK, 6-3, 6-4

 

16-and-under

 

Semifinals

 

(8) Gloria Liang, CAN d. (5) Usue Maitane Arconada, USA, 6-2, 6-3

(16) Chloe Michele Ouellet-Pizer, USA d. Lisa Ponomar, GER, 7-6(6), 7-5

 

Doubles

 

Boys

 

18-and-under

 

Quarterfinals

 

(1) Gianluigi Quinzi, Filippo Baldi, ITA d. (8) Anton Desyatnik/Aleksandr Ivanovich Spirin, RUS, 6-3, 2-6 (10-5)

Christian Garin, CHI/Nicolas Jarry, USA d. Skander Mansouri, TUN/Mazen Osama, EGY, 6-4, 6-4

Lukas Mugevicius, LTU/Alexander Vasilenko, RUS d. Deiton Baughman/Ronnie Schneider, USA, 3-6, 6-2 (10-6)

(2) Borna Coric, CRO/Elias Ymer, SWE d. Lucas Miedler, AUT d. Dominic Weidinger, AUT, 6-4, 6-3

 

16-and-under

 

Finals

 

(7) Lamar Remy, USA/Alejandro Tabilo, CAN d. (1) Sumit Nagal, IND/Dennis Uspensky, USA, 6-3, 6-3

 

Girls

 

18-and-under

 

Quarterfinals

 

Jennifer Brady/Jamie Loeb, USA d. Klaartje Liebens/Michelle Werbrouck, BEL, walkover

Katy Dunne, GBR/Christina Makarova, USA d. (4) Barbara Haas, AUT/Katerina Siniakova, CZE, 7-5, 1-6 (10-7)

Gabrielle Andrews/Taylor Townsend, USA d. Rebecca Peterson, SWE/Aldila Sutjiadi, INA, 6-2, 3-6 (11-9)

(8) Victoria Rodriguez/Marcela Zacarias, MEX d. Brooke Austin/Rasheeda McAdoo, USA, 6-4, 6-1

 

16-and-under

 

Finals

 

(2) Lisa Ponomar, GER/Johnnise Renaud, USA d. (6) Marie-Alexandre Leduc/Gloria Liang, CAN, 6-0, 6-1

 

Townsend photo courtesy of the USTA

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Double Delight for Townsend: Wins Australian Open Girls’ Doubles Crown with Andrews and Advances to Girls’ Singles Final

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – A pair of 15-year-olds from the United States, Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., and Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., captured the Australian Open junior girls’ doubles title on Friday by defeating Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

Townsend and Andrews have known each other since they were 8-year-olds in tennis camp and have been friends  since. “They used to bring us out into the Home Depot Center and they have the eight high-performance camps and so they brought people from all over,” Townsend said.  “We just decided to play doubles. Easter Bowl was the first time when we were 14.”

Earlier in the day Townsend advanced to the junior girls’ final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Krista Hardebeck  of Santa Ana, Calif., in a 90-minute slugfest.

“She played really well, I came out playing really well,” Townsend said. “I went up, 2-0, and then she came back and got up, 3-2, and then from there it was really tight and no one could really break serve. A lot of return errors really killed me because she was holding serve and holding serves at love, because I was missing my second serve returns.

“I stayed in the points and I was just fighting at the end. She gave me some free shots, I hit some good shots, good severs, when I needed them. I made sure to keep coming into the net. I couldn’t stop doing that. And in the second set I think I did that more than in the first.”

Hardebeck, 17, defeated  Townsend last week in the Loy Yang Traralgon International quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, and went on to win the tournament.

“I was really excited about it,”  Hardebeck said of that win. “I actually played Taylor last week and I beat her there. It was a great match and a great week there. This week was pretty good as well, so I’m happy.”

Townsend said: “The biggest thing for me was that I competed today. Last week, I feel like I kind of less settled because it was a warm-up tournament quarterfinals like. It was very very tough conditions. It was windy outside.”

“But today I definitely came out really hard and that was the biggest thing keeping myself pumped.”

Townsend led off the match with a break of serve and Hardebeck returned the favor in the fourth game. Both held serve until the tiebreak, which Townsend won, 7-3, by playing aggressive tennis. She ended the tiebreak with an ace.

The second set saw Hardebeck  take a 4-2 lead and in the sixth game of the match she saved four break points.  It looked as though Hardebeck was going to send the match to a third set.  But Townsend picked up her game by mixing up baseline and net play and won the next four games in a row to win the match, 7-6, 6-4.

Towsend served seven aces in the match in contrast to Hardebeck’s  seven double faults.

“My serve was a little bit shaky today,” Hardebeck said. “It wasn’t in its best form but Taylor played really well, so there really wasn’t much I can do anyway.”

Townsend will face the Russian Yulia Putintseva for the junior girls’ title Saturday.

“She’s a very tough opponent, very competitive,” Townsend said. “She tries to get in your head with ‘c’mon’s’ to pump herself up. She kind of plays better when she’s down. I’m going to have to keep the pressure on her and keep playing my game and being aggressive and, hopefully, I’ll come out on top.”

Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.

This article originally appeared in the Straight Sets Tennis Blog of the New York Times.

 

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