New York native Noah Rubin looks to win a Boys' 18s title out west in Carson, Calif. at the 2013 USTA International Spring Championships
© Cynthia Lum
By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. -- Some of the world’s top junior tennis players – including five boys ranked in the International Tennis Federation’s Top 50 – will converge here next week as the ninth annual USTA International Spring Championships takes place beginning Monday at the Home Depot Center.
Noah Rubin, 17, is expected to be the top-seeded boys’ 18s player and hails from Rockville Centre, N.Y. Currently No. 20 in the world ITF rankings, Rubin was a semifinalist in the 18s last year after winning the 16s in 2011. Also last year, Rubin reached the semifinals at a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event as well as the Easter Bowl and the USTA Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich., and he advanced to the quarterfinals at the French Open Juniors.
Last year’s 18s singles finalist Stefan Kozlov, 15, from Pembroke Pines, Fla., is right behind Rubin at No. 21 in the world rankings. He will be seeded No. 2.
Last year’s ISC 18s doubles winne, Mackenzie McDonald, will be the No. 3 seed (No. 36 in the world), with Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa No. 4 (No. 40), and Americans Luca Corintelli and Spencer Papa coming in at No. 5 (No. 43) and No. 6 (No. 52), respectively.
Top juniors from Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Argentina and Venezuela will also be represented in the boys’ 18s.
On the girls’ side, Christina Makarova, 16, from San Diego, comes in with the highest ITF ranking at No. 14 and is expected to be the top-seeded girl in the 18s. Makarova has a WTA world ranking of No. 872 and took advantage of a wild-card opportunity at a USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event in February, winning a round.
Mayo Hibi, who lives in Irvine, Calif., and represents Japan, will turn 17 next Wednesday and is currently No. 374 in the WTA rankings, but doesn’t have a high enough ITF junior ranking to be placed within the top 16 seeded players in the 64-player draw. In 2010, Hibi made the final in the 16s here, losing to Alyssa Smith.
Indianapolis’ Brooke Austin, ranked No. 541 in the world WTA rankings, is also one to watch. Mexicans Victoria Rodriguez (No. 24 ITF) and Alejandra Cisneros (No. 25), Egyptian Sandra Samir (No. 42) and American Jamie Loeb (No. 67) are the other top girls’ 18s players.
"This year's USTA International Spring Championships should be another exciting event," said Tournament Director John Lansville. "I expect a lot of great tennis next week. There are a number of strong competitors in all of the age divisions, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of upsets at this year’s event."
In the girls’ 16s, top players will include Ally Miller-Krasilnikov (Boca Raton, Fla.), Jada Robinson (Reisterstown, Md.), Rebecca Weissman (Loveland, Colo.), Tiffany Huber (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Madison Appel (Locust Valley, N.Y.).
On the boys’ side in the 16s, William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., who won the 14s Easter Bowl last year, is the top-seeded player. Jean Thirouin (Houston, Texas), Jack Van Slyke (Canada), Jake Devine (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Robert Levine (Bedford, N.Y) are the other top players.
Notable wild cards in the boys’ 18s include Southern California stalwarts Robbie Bellamy (committed to play for USC), Joseph DiGiulio (UCLA), and Gage Brymer (UCLA). Perhaps the top SoCal wild-card prospect to watch, however, is 16-year-old Ernesto Escobedo, who currently holds an ATP ranking of No. 967 in the world. On the girls’ side, the wild cards include Emma Higuchi, Alyssa Smith and Spencer Liang.
Last year Allie Kiick won the girls’ 18s. Just two weeks ago, Kiick beat former ISC champion Vania King (2005) on her way to qualifying for the WTA's Sony Open Tennis.
Past champions of the event include Sam Querrey (2005), Bradley Klahn (2008), Sloane Stephens (2009) and Melanie Oudin (2008), to name just a few who have gone on to bigger and better things on the pro and collegiate circuits.
Singles qualifying will take place this Saturday and Sunday with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boys’ and girls’ 16s on Saturday, April 7, and boys’ and girls’ 18s on Sunday, April 8.
For more information on the tournament log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc