By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
2013 US Open junior finalist Tornado Alicia Black and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the world’s top-ranked junior boy, are slated to compete among many of the world’s top juniors at the 67th annual Orange Bowl Junior Tennis Championships, Dec. 9-15 at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla.
One of the the longest-running and largest junior tennis tournaments in the world, the Orange Bowl will be played on clay for the third straight year. (The event was played on clay from 1947 to 1997 before switching to hard courts in 1998.) The Orange Bowl features singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in 18-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. Nine of the Top 25 boys and eight of the Top 25 girls in the world junior rankings are on the 18-and-under acceptance lists. The 16-and-under acceptances will be revealed on Nov. 5.
“The Orange Bowl is one of the most prominent junior tennis tournaments in the world, and we're excited for another year of world-class competition," said Tournament Director Lew Brewer, also the USTA's Director of Junior Competition.
In addition to Zverev, the boys’ 18s field includes 2013 Wimbledon junior champion Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, and Russia’s Karen Khachanov, who won three ATP-level main draw matches this fall, including an upset of Janko Tipsarevic to reach the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
Fifteen-year-old Floridian Stefan Kozlov, ranked No. 14, leads the American contingent in the boys’ main draw, which includes No. 20 Michael Mmoh (15, Temple Hills, Md.), No. 42 Francis Tiafoe (15, College Park, Md.), No. 48 Martin Redlicki (18, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.), No. 50 and 2012 Orange Bowl semifinalist Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (18, Charlotte, N.C.), No. 57 Spencer Papa (17, Edmond, Okla.) and No. 71 Danny Kerznerman (17, Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Russia’s Varvara Flink, ranked No. 5 in the world, headlines the girls 18s field. Black, the 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., currently ranked No. 11 in the world, turned heads in September with a run to the girls’ singles final of the US Open as an unseeded wild card.
Other Americans in the girls’ main draw are No. 21 Christina Makarova (17, San Diego), No. 43 Johnnise Renaud (17, North Miami, Fla.), No. 46 Katrine Steffensen (17, Scarsdale, N.Y.), No. 62 Dasha Ivanova (17, Beaverton, Ore.), No. 72 Michaela Gordon (14, Los Altos Hills, Calif.), No. 87 Usue Arconada (14, College Park, Md.), No. 89 Rianna Valdes (17, Boca Raton, Fla.), No. 101 Kaitlyn McCarthy (15, Cary, N.C.) and No. 103 Madison Bourguignon (16, Boynton Beach, Fla.).
The qualifying draw for the 2013 Orange Bowl begins on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Founded by Eddie Herr in 1947, the Orange Bowl quickly became one of the premier international junior events in the world and an annual showcase for the global scope of the game. Players from more than 50 countries have competed in the tournament, and champions have emerged from 28 different nations.
Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under singles titles include: Chris Evert (1969-70), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995). Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000-01), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005) all won the event when played on hard courts.