Photo: Srdjan StevanovicTaylor Townsend (USA)
FLORIDA, USA: American Taylor Townsend will end the season as Junior World No.1 after hitting her way into the semi-finals of the 18-under girls’ singles competition at the Orange Bowl International Championships in Plantation Florida. Townsend is the first American since Gretchen Rush in 1982 to end a season as Junior World No.1.
Townsend began a stellar 2012 in juniors by winning the Australian Open girls’ title and is certain to sign off both this season and, it seems, her junior career on a high after a successful week on the claycourts of the Frank Veltri Tennis Centre. She announced earlier this week that she intends to turn professional before the start of 2013 and has also signed with management company Lagadere Unlimited.
The ITF Junior Rankings take into account combined singles and doubles wins, so sixteen-year-old Townsend needed to keep winning in singles and doubles this week to stay ahead of her great rival Katerina Siniakova in the ITF Junior World Rankings. She reached the last four in singles by beating Carol Zhao of Canada 75 57 76(2) in a compelling encounter and she and partner Gabrielle Andrews (USA) also went through to the doubles semi-finals. When Sinaikova was beaten in doubles (with partner Barbara Haas of Austria) later in the day, the No.1 spot was secure.
“When I step out onto the court, I really just play tennis,” said Townsend. “I mean if I just play well and do what I know I can do, everything else will take care of itself.”
Siniakova’s doubles loss alongside partner Barbara Haas gained some consolation by winning her quarter-final against Chalena Scholl of the USA 61 26 62 to make sure that she remains in contention for the Orange Bowl 18s’ singles title, one of the most prestigious trophies on the ITF Junior Circuit and a sizeable prize in its own right.
In-form Croatian Ana Konjuh continued her fine run of wins by beating fourth seed Belinda Bencic 64 62 to set up a semi-final meeting with Marcela Zacarias of Mexico.
In the boys’ competition, Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy’s hopes of capturing a second Grade A title were ended abruptly by Laslo Djere of Serbia, who delivered a surprise 67(2) 62 61 win to earn himself a place in the boys’ semi-finals. The day’s most convincing win was earned by American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who was far too strong for 6ft 5 compatriot Deiton Baughman in a 62 62 rout.
In the other boys’ singles quarter-finals of the 18s’ competition, Filippo Baldi of Italy joined Elias Ymer of Sweden in the last four after both upended the formbook by beating higher ranked opponents. Baldi, seeded 8th, was too strong for third seed Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, winning 63 46 64. Ymer, meanwhile, came through a fluctuating encounter with second seed Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal 62 16 61. Baldi and Ymer will now face-off for the chance to join the historic honour roll of Orange Bowl 18s finalists.