Photo: Francesco PanunzioElizaveta Kulichkova (RUS)
While much of the world celebrates holidays there is no rest for the ITF Juniors as the first Grade A of the 2012 ITF Junior Circuit kicked off in Mexico. Formerly the Casablanca Cup, the tournament now known as the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano has moved to a new venue, the Club Deportivo Chapultepec in Mexico City and is being played on clay.
The girls took centre stage on the first day with several of the top seeds in action. Number three seed Elizaveta Kulichkova from Russia took on local talent in the shape of Valeria Salazar. The Russian is in good form having recently reached the last sixteen at the Orange Bowl and continued that form with a straight sets victory 64 63 over the local.
Seventh seed Jennifer Brady from the USA was another player who performed well at the Orange Bowl having finished runner up in the doubles. In the first round the American faced a strong Russian challenge from Anna Davydova but came through without problem 61 64.
Rebecca Peterson, the ninth seed from Sweden, has points to defend after reaching the last 16 of the Casablanca Cup last year. She opened her account this year with a straightforward win over Mexican Clementina Davila 62 61.
However there was better news for fourteenth seed local favourite Marcela Zacarias. After taking the first set 63 the Mexican could have been forgiven for an attack of the wobbles when the second set reached a tie-break. Memories of a first round exit last year could have caused a problem but the San Luis Potosi resident held firm to take the tie-break 76(5) over Chiliean Macarena Olivares Lopez and progress to the second round.
In the boys draw third seed Frederico Ferreira Silva from Portugal came through a strong challenge from American Jordan Tucker Daigle. Having taken the first set 64 the American drew level with the second set 75. With Grade A points at stake the third set went to the wire with the seeded player pulling through 76(3) to progress.
Another seed safely through is American Connor Farren, seeded five, who defeated Chilean Guillermo Nunez 63 62. Other boys through to the second round included Germany's Maximilian Marterer and local Santiago Munoz Quiroga.