Francis Tiafoe captured singles titles at both Teen Tennis and Les Petits As in 2012.
© Cynthia Lum
Eight of the country's top junior players have been selected to represent the United States in two premier 14-and-under events in Europe—the AEGON Junior International Teen Tennis in Bolton, England, Jan. 13-18, and Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, Jan. 21-27.
The boys named to compete include Patrick Kypson (13, Greenville, N.C.), Noah Makarome (13, Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Sam Riffice (13, Roseville, Calif.) and Gianni Ross (13, Burr Ridge, Ill.), while Catherine Cartan Bellis (13, Atherton, Calif.), Jaeda Daniel (13, Port Charlotte, Fla.), Michaela Gordon (13, Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and Claire Liu (12, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) will play for the girls. USTA national coach Andy Brandi will accompany the boys' team, and USTA lead national coach Leo Azevedo will travel with the girls.
Both Teen Tennis and Les Petits As annually feature some the world's best players in the 14-and-under age range. Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis, all former No. 1 players and Grand Slam champions, won titles at Les Petits As during their junior careers, while past American winners include Michael Chang, Donald Young and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Lindsay Davenport was a finalist at the event as well.
Among the U.S. players competing this year, Kypson advanced to the third round of both the USTA Boys' 14s National Championships and the boys' 14s Eddie Herr International Championships in 2012. Makarome reached the boys' 14s quarterfinals at the 2012 USTA National Winter Championships. Riffice reached the third round of the 2012 USTA Boys 14s' National Championships. And Ross was a finalist at the USTA Boys' 14s National Championships in August and a boys' 14s semifinalist at Eddie Herr in December.
Bellis reached the girls' 14s final at the Easter Bowl and quarterfinals at the Junior Orange Bowl in 2012. Daniels advanced to the quarterfinals of the USTA Girls' 14s National Championships in August and the girls' 14s doubles semifinals at Eddie Herr in December. Gordon was a semifinalist at the USTA Girls' 16s National Championships last summer and reached the third round of the girls' 16s draw at the 2012 Orange Bowl. And Liu won the 2011 Junior Orange Bowl girls' 12s title and was a girls' 14s semifinalist at this December’s USTA National Winter Championships; she also beat an NCAA Division I college freshman at the USTA Collegiate Invitational this fall.
American boys have won the AEGON Junior International Teen Tennis and Les Petits As singles titles the past two years. Francis Tiafoe captured both championships in 2012, while all four Americans reached the semifinals of last year’s Les Petits As, marking the first time in the tournament’s 30-year history that all four semifinalists were from one country.