17 Oct 2017

Osuigwe & Shimizu first round winners in Osaka

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicWhitney Osuigwe (USA)

The Osaka Mayor’s Cup’s has a rich tradition in the arena of international junior competition.

The event started as a prestigious Grade A tournament in 1993, and in its 24-year existence has welcomed many future stars of the game. Take the year 2005 when the teens who reigned victorious were Marin Cilic and Victoria Azarenka, two eventual main draw Grand Slam champions. Other well-known players who captured the Mayor’s Cup through the years are Caroline Wozniacki, Marcel Rios, Sebastien Grosjean, Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios.

That kind of established reputation will certainly not be lost on this year’s players, who journeyed to Osaka in hopes of hoisting the trophy by week’s end.

The main draw competition got underway on Tuesday and the girls’ and boys’ top two seeds all advanced with straight-set performances.

In the girls’ draw, top seed and reigning French Open champion Whitney Osuigwe lost only one game in her 61 60 first round encounter against Ai Yamaguchi of Japan.

Second seed Wang Xin Yu of China scored a 63 61 win over Miyu Nakashima of Japan.

Third seed Liang En Shuo of Taipei took down Alexandra Vikrotovitch of Sweden 62 75,while fourth seed Yuki Naito of Japan won a 61 64 match over Fiona Ganz of Switzerland.

The only girls’ seed to be defeated on Tuesday was 15th seed Ayumi Miyamoto of Japan, who was upset by Sina Zuger of Switzerland 64 63.

Only 15-years-old, Osuigwe, who grew up at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where her father Desmond is a coach, has an impressive 37-6 win-loss record for the season. She’s fresh off of winning the Pan American ITF Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but it’s her journey at Roland Garros that put her on the tennis map.

Osuigwe captured her first Grand Slam singles trophy by bypassing fellow American Claire Liu 64 67 (5) 63. Overall, it was a hard fought victory in that four of the six matches she played in Paris went three sets.

Osuigwe started the season in a fashion that sent the important message that she planned to be a force to be reckoned with on the court. She won back-to-back titles at the Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay and the Banana Bowl in Brazil to start the year.

Boys’ top seed Yuta Shimizu ousted Japanese compatriot Hiroki Sakagawa 63 62, while second seed Timofey Skatov of Russia posted a 62 62 win over Takeakii Ito of Japan.

The 10th-seeded left-handed Shimizu, an 18-year-old playing his last year in the juniors, recently played in the U.S. Open boys’ doubles championship match. He partnered fellow Japanese native Toru Horie in a final loss to Hsu Yu Hsiiou of Tiawain and Wu Yibing of China 64 57 [11-9].

In singles action, Shimizu’s best result of the season to date was winning the Astrid Bowl, better known as the Belgian International Junior Championships, in the spring.

Third seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia was a first round casualty, falling to Keisuke Saitoh of Japan 63 26 76 (4)

The No. 298-ranked Brian Bencic, the 17-year-old brother of former top 10 Swiss star Belinda Bencic, was just edged out by 11th seed James Kent Trotter of Japan 67 (4), 64, 76 (7).

Fourth seed Naoki Tajima of Japan bypassed George Davis of Great Britain 62 62.