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Clervie Ngounoue, Cooper Woestendick sweep inaugural Indian Wells junior titles
A pair of 16-year-old Americans—Washington D.C. native Clervie Ngounoue and Cooper Woestendick of Olathe, Kan.—swept the inaugural girls' and boys' singles titles at the FILA International Junior Championships at the site of the famed BNP Paribas Open.
This inaugural event offered promising junior tennis players from the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to play on the same courts as the pros at the esteemed Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which is the site of a combined ATP Masters 1000 and WTA 1000 event each spring.
In her first junior event of 2023 after winning her second pro doubles title at the USTA Pro Circuit W25 in Spring, Texas earlier this month, USTA Foundation Excellence Team product Ngounoue didn't drop a set en route to winning the singles title. Seeded third, she didn't lose more than five games in any of her five matches.
That included a 6-1, 6-2 win over top seed Iva Jovic, her U.S. junior Billie Jean King Cup teammate, and an identical 6-1, 6-2 win over seventh seed Theadora Rabman, from Long Island, N.Y., in the final. Earlier, Rabman beat fourth seed Tatum Evans (7-6(6), 6-3) in the quarters and No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo in the semis (6-3, 6-2).
On the boys' side, 11th-seeded Woestendick had a much tougher path to his second, and biggest, career singles title: He saved two championship points in a 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2 final victory over No. 5 seed Oliver Bonding, a Las Vegas native who plays for Great Britain.
Woestendick previously defeated fourth-seeded Canadian Keegan Rice in the quarterfinals, while Bonding took out No. 2 seed Roy Horovitz in the same round.
Ngounoue doubled up for the week, as she partnered Qavia Lopez for victory in Saturday's girls' doubles final as well. They lost one set all week as the No. 1 seeds—they won a match tiebreak 6-0, 5-7, [12-10] against Valerie Glozman and Anya Murthy in the quarterfinals—and knocked off unseeded Kayla Chung and Alanis Hamilton in the final 6-1, 7-5.
In the boys' doubles final, unseeded Jagger Leach and Joseph Oyebog, Jr. stormed to victory by upsetting three seeded pairs en route; in the championship, they knocked off No. 1 seeds Roy Horovitz and Alexander Razeghi 7-6(5), 6-2 after having beaten the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds earlier in the tournament. The 15-year-old Leach is the oldest child of three-time major champion Lindsay Davenport and her husband Jon Leach.
"This was a really cool experience, I'm really glad they made it a thing," Ngounoue told the Desert Sun at the close of the event. "It's a blur at the start of the tournament because you're in the same area as the pros ... It's kind of like you forget that you can actually go and see them."
On the singles final, she added: "The score doesn't tell it all, it never does, but I stayed pretty solid. It was one of the finals that I will keep in my memory."
By virtue of winning the event this year, Ngounoue and Woestendick will receive wild cards into their respective qualifying draws for the 2024 BNP Paribas Open.
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