08 Dec 2017

Osuigwe journeys to Orange Bowl semifinals

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Paul ZimmerWhitney Osuigwe (USA)

In a nod to symmetry the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship boys’ and girls’ draw comes down to the final four with each event featuring an all-seeded semifinal and an all-unseeded semifinal.

The girls’ draw finds top-seeded Whitney Osuigwe still in the hunt for a second consecutive title having won the Grade 1 Eddie Herr title on her home courts at the IMG Academy last week.

Osuigwe needed three sets to turn back fellow American Vanessa Ong 57 64 62 on Friday to earn an Orange Bowl semifinal berth. Osuigwe’s not playing her cleanest tennis this week - two of her four matches have gone the three-set distance - but she’s getting by on confidence.

Friday delivered exciting news for Osuigwe as it was announced she was named the 2017 ITF Junior Girls’ World Champion> She will officially receive that honor at the ITF's black tie gala during the 2018 Roland Garros tournament.

Osuigwe not only won her first Grand Slam junior singles title at Roland Garros this season, but she helped lead the USA to the Junior Fed Cup title where she won all eight rubbers she played in singles and doubles. In all, she’s won five singles and three doubles titles this year, and after starting the year ranked No. 95 she ends the season at No. 1.

“It’s hard to put in words what exactly it means to have finished No. 1 this year and become Junior World Champion,” said Osuigwe, of being named the ITF Junior Girls’ World Champion. This is very surprising and I could not be any happier. But I’d also like to think this is the result of the all hard work my team and I have gone through in the last year. I’m excited for what’s to come, and I hope we can keep up with the good results.”
The 15-year-old Osuigwe will battle ninth seeded Joanna Garland of Taipei in the semifinals. Garland also required three sets to end 303rd-ranked American wildcard recipient Abigail Forbes hopes of reaching the semifinals with a 60 36 62 decision.

It will be the unseeded Chloe Beck of the USA playing unseeded Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine in the other girls’ semifinal.

Beck’s dream week continued on with a quarterfinal win over her third seeded player in a row, taking out sixth-seeded Nika Radisic of Slovenia 64 75. In the second round, Beck ended second-seeded Alexa Noel’s 13-match winning streak, and then went on to defeat 14th-seeded Layne Sleeth of Canada in the third round.

Bilokin also shipped a seeded player to the exit, scoring a 36 75 64 win over fifth-seeded Naho Sato of Japan.

In the boys’ competition, top-seeded Timofey Skatov of Russia has yet to drop a set in journeying to the semifinals. He won his quarterfinal match against Admir Kalender of Croatia 64 63 on Friday.

Skatov is set to play 11th-seeded Hugo Gaston of France, who capture a swift 61 61 win over American wildcard recipient Tyler Zink, in the semis.

Skatov’s made a habit of going to the weekend at a number of key events this year. His first Grade A semifinal appearance was at the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, Italy, in May. He then went onto reach the Osaka Mayor’s Cup final in October. Between those events he journeyed to the U.S. Open semifinal, his best showing at a Grand Slam.

Heading to the Orange Bowl, the 16-year-old Skatov was a finalist at last week’s Grade 1 Eddie Herr.

The 17-year-old Gaston’s best results of the season were reaching two Grade 1 finals at the Copa Barranquilla in Colombia in January and the City of Weis in Austria.

The other boys’ final will see 76th-ranked Daniel Michalski of Poland facing 125th-ranked Dostanbek Tashbulatov of Kazakhstan.

The 17-year-old Michalski upset 15th-seeded George Loffhagen of Great Britain 36 64 61 to reach the semifinals. The Orange Bowl is only his second Grade A tournament of the year and at his first, the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano in November, he lost in the first round.

The 17-year-old Tashbulatov needed had a huge fight on his hands against American Govind Nanda before sealing his semifinal slot with a 76 (6) 67 (2) 61 win. Ranked 125th, the Orange Bowl marks the first time that Tashbulatov’s reached the weekend at a Grade 1 or better event this season.