Photo: Susan MullaneJaume Antoni Munar Clar (ESP)
Last week, the world’s best pro players were in Italy, Rome to be exact, where Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams scored the prestigious clay court Italian Open titles ahead of Roland Garros.
This week, many of the world’s top juniors have journeyed to Milan, Italy, where they will vie for the important Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio titles.
In terms of judging the importance of the Trofeo Bonfiglio one just needs to take a look at last year's event. The 2013 winners were Alexander Zverev of Germany and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. In a little over two weeks at the black tie ITF Champions dinner, Zverev and Bencic will be honoured as the 2013 ITF Junior Champions and their success at the Trofeo Bonfiglio certainly helped both win that prestigious award.
But enough of looking back. It’s time to look forward to this year and there’s no question the talent pool in the main draws will make for an intriguing week in Milan.
In the boys’ draw, the top seed is Orland Luz of Brazil, who is currently enjoying a combined ranking of No. 3.
The 16-year-old Luz comes into the Trofeo Bonfiglio having won the first Grade A tournament of the year at the Campeonato Internacional Juvenil de Tenis de Porto Alegre in his home country. In the Porto Alegre final, Luz defeated Clement Geens of Belgium 64 62, and as the Milan draw worked out, it’s possible that Luz could face the 15th-seeded Geens in the quarterfinals this week.
The second seed Jaume Antoni Munar Clar, a 17-year-old from Spain, has put together an impressive season thus far with a 25-3 win-loss record in singles action. Since the start of the year, the No. 6 ranked Munar Clar’s won three Grade 1 titles and been in one other Grade 1 final.
And third seed Duck Hee Lee of Korea is one of the current great stories in the game. The 15-year-old Lee is deaf, which takes away the advantageous element of hearing the ball come off his opponent's racket. This year, Lee’s posted a 19-4 singles win-loss record.
Other seeded players to keep an eye out for in the boys’ competition are No. 4 Michael Mmoh of USA, No. Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 12 Bradley Mousley of Australia, No. 11 Danill Medvedev of Russia, and No. 17 Filippo Baldi of Italy, who will undoubtedly enjoy some home crowd support.
In the girls’competition, Spain’s Alona Bolsova Zadoinov is the top seed.
The 16-year-old Bolsova Zadoinov, currently ranked No. 5, was born in Moldova but emigrated to Spain after her parents fell in love with Barcelona when they competed in the 1992 Olympic Games in the city.
Zadoinov was a finalist at the Grade A Porto Alegre tournament in March, losing to her good friend, Jil Belen Teichmann of Switzerland 36 64 76(10). Zadoinov has compiled a 23-5 win-loss record this season and won two Grade 1 tournaments.
As for the Barcelona-bron Teichmann, she is seeded sixth and is located in the bottom half of the draw this week, which means if the two friends were to meet again they would do so in the final.
The second seed is American Tornado Alicia Black of the USA. Currently ranked No. 7, Black made a great deal of noise last year by reaching the U.S. Open junior final as a wildcard recipient. This marks the 16-year-old Black’s first junior appearance of the year.
The 16-year-old Russian Darya Kasatkina sits in the third-seeded position and is on a path to face Zadoinov in the semifinals if the draw holds to form. Kasatkina won both junior tournaments she’s played this year, taking the Grade 1 title at Santa Croce and the Grade 2 Yeltsin Cup in Russia.
Other seeded girls to pay close attention to are: No. 4 Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, No. 11 Anna Bondar of Hungary, No. 12 Priscilla Hon of Australia and No. 10 Sandra Samir of Egypt.