Photo: Francesco PanunzioNikola Milojevic (SRB)
Several leading contenders for the 54th Trofeo Bonfiglio ITF Grade A Junior title made their presence felt at Milan’s Tennis Club Alberto Benacossa on Tuesday.
It was a busy day for the high-quality girls’ field at the tournament, which was formerly known as the Italian Open. It saw wins for Belgium’s Elise Mertens, seeded three, second seed Belinda Bencic, American fifth seed Christina Makarova and accomplished Russian Elizaveta Kulichova, among others.
Swiss qualifier Jill Belen Teichmann sprung the biggest surprise of the day by knocking out fourth seed Ching-Wen Hsu of Tapei with a stunning 63 62 victory. Fifteen-year-old Teichmann appear to more comfortable on the red clay than her higher ranked opponent and showed the benefit of the three matches she won in qualifying to earn her main draw place. Teichmann, whose best ITF Junior Circuit results had come in doubles rather than singles until this week, will be hoping to keep her winning streak alive against Russia’s Maria Marfutina.
Mertens ended local hopes of an upset in her first round match when she proved too strong for Italian qualifier Lucrezia Stefanini, wrapping up a 60 62 win to set up a second round meeting with Czech Gabriella Pantuckova. Bencic was in devastating form against Yan Wang of China, delivering a 61 60 victory which means that she will face Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador in the second round. Makarova, seeded fifth, had to work somewhat harder to ease past Croatia’s Jana Fett 75 63.
Kulichova, who was a semi-finalist in singles at this year’s Australian Open Junior Tournament before losing to Ana Konjuh (CRO), has been mixing ITF Junior tournaments with ITF Pro Circuit events this season and came to Milan on the back of last month’s impressive run from qualifying through to the final of the $50,000 women’s event in Istanbul. The 17-year-old Russian was runner-up to Croatian star Donna Vekic at that hardcourt event and appears to have bought that form to the red clay of Milan.
In the boys’ draw, second seed Borna Coric (CRO) and third seed Laslo Djere (SRB) joined top seed Nikola Milojevic in the second round with efficient wins on Tuesday. Coric dispatched Great Britain’s Evan Hoyt 63 62, while Djere wrapped up a 64 64 victory over Siyu Liu of China. 10th seed Nicolas Jarry of Chile and Marcelo Zormann Da Silva of Brazil (seeded 11th) also progressed safely through to the second round.
Eighteen-year-old Stefano Napolitano is unseeded what is his home tournament in Milan but his current ITF Junior ranking of 41 belies a successful year so far at both ITF Junior and ITF Pro Circuit level, particularly on clay. This month he has already won the ITF Junior Grade 2 clay-court event in Medias, Romania and was a semi-finalist at the Grade 1 35th Tourneo International Citti de Sante Croce. Napolitano dispatched American Dennis Uspensky 62 62 in his first round match in Milan and now faces Skander Mansouri of Tunisia in what promises to be a compelling clay-court battle.