RELATED: 2013 USTA.com Year in Review home
By Sally Milano, USTA.com
America's top junior tennis players shined bright on the world's biggest stages, with impressive performances at the four majors and other prestigious events held in 2013.
Louisa Chirico had one of the most impressive years of any U.S. junior, advancing to the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals at the US Open and moving up to a career-high ITF World Junior Ranking of No. 6 in September.
Stefan Kozlov, 15, also had a great year, winning the singles title at the 18-and-under USTA International Spring Championships, finishing runner-up at the International Hard Court Championships and reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. He is the youngest player ranked in the world’s Top 20 and represented the U.S. in Junior Davis Cup play.
Tornado Alicia Black took the tennis world by storm, winning three ITF titles and reached the final of the US Open girls' championships. Following her run at the US Open, the 15-year-old captured the first pro title of her young career at the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Amelia Island, Fla.
Another 15-year-old, Francis Tiafoe, ended the year on a high note by defeating Kozlov, 7-6, 0-6, 6-3, in an all-American singles final at the Metropolia Orange Bowl. With the win, Tiafoe became the youngest player to win the boys' 18s title in the tournament’s 67-year history.
Eighteen-year-old Sachia Vickery and 17-year-old Collin Altamirano captured the USTA Girls’ and Boys’ 18s National Championships, respectively, and with their wins, earned a trip to New York to compete as wild cards in the US Open men's and women's singles draws. (Vickery advanced to the second round with a win over former Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.)
U.S. juniors also posted big results in international team play, as the team of CiCi Bellis, Michaela Gordon and Claire Liu captured the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis title for the United States, giving the U.S. its sixth World Junior Tennis girls’ title since the competition launched in 1991 – more than any other nation.
In addition to the success of American juniors on the world’s biggest stages, young players throughout the country playing at the grass-roots level were big winners in 2013, as the USTA Board of Directors unanimously approved changes to the 2014 National Junior Competition Structure that will offer an improved tournament experience for youngsters playing tennis starting on Jan. 1, 2014.
The changes will create more national play opportunities for kids, will offer them more competitive options and will drive more competitive play at the local level, while upholding the ideals of earned advancement.