By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Taylor Townsend, who finished 2012 as the year-end No. 1 junior girl in the ITF World Junior Rankings, will lead a strong contingent of Americans into the upcoming Wimbledon Junior Championships, which take place June 29 to July 7 at the All England Club in London.
Townsend, a 17-year-old from Chicago who trains at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., is the reigning junior girls' doubles champion at Wimbledon, having won the title last year with Canada's Eugenie Bouchard. Currently the top-ranked American girl at No. 8 in the world rankings, Townsend will be playing in only her second junior event of 2013. Earlier this month, the talented left-hander advanced to the singles quarterfinals at the 2013 French Open Junior Championships – her first junior tournament since turning pro at the beginning of the year – falling to eventual champion Belinda Bencic, 9-7 in the third set.
Joining Townsend in the girls' main draw at the All England Club is 17-year-old Louisa Chirico of Harrison, N.Y. Chirico, who trains at the USTA Training Center – East in Flushing, N.Y., posted the best result of any American junior at Roland Garros, reaching the semifinals. She now holds a career-high junior ranking of No. 18 in the world.
No. 45 Jamie Loeb, 18, from Ossining, N.Y., and No. 51 Johnnise Renaud, 17, from North Miami, Fla., have also been accepted into the girls’ main draw and will be making their debuts at the All England Club. No. 64 Katrine Isabel Steffensen, a 17-year-old from Scarsdale, N.Y.; No. 79 Alicia Black, a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla.; and No. 97 Dasha Ivanova, a 16-year-old from Beaverton, Ore., will play in the qualifying draw.
Fifteen-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., the youngest boy in the world's Top 25 at No. 21, leads the Americans in the boys' main draw, despite being the second-youngest player entered in the field. Joining him are No. 25 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, an 18-year-old from Charlotte, N.C.; No. 28 Noah Rubin, a 17-year-old from Rockville Centre, N.Y.; No. 42 Luca Corinteli, a 17-year-old from Alexandria, Va.; and No. 58 Spencer Papa, a 17-year-old from Edmond, Okla. No. 55 Martin Redlicki of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., also 17, will compete in qualifying.
Last year, Kozlov qualified into the Wimbledon boys’ singles draw and went on to reach the second round as the youngest player in the main draw by more than a year. Kwiatkowski, meanwhile, reached the third round in 2012. Rubin, who has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the world, reached the round of 16 at the 2013 French Open Junior Championships earlier this month.
Currently, Kozlov and Papa train at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton. Kwiatkowski and Redlicki previously trained there – Kwiatkowski for three years – and Corinteli trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a USTA Certified Regional Training Center.
Past American Wimbledon boys’ singles champions include Donald Young (2007), Scott Humphries (1994), Matt Anger (1981), Van Winitsky (1977) and Billy Martin (1973-74). Past American girls’ singles champions at Wimbledon include Chanda Rubin (1992), Zina Garrison (1981), Mary Lou Piatek (1979) and Tracy Austin (1978).
And for more on getting started in tennis, and to find a program or facility in your area, go to YouthTennis.com.