Opportunity knocks for Americans at 2022 Orange Bowl

Victoria Chiesa | December 04, 2022

Each year, the world's best junior tennis players flock to Plantation, Fla. to compete at the famed Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships with the hopes of joining a star-studded cast of fomer champions that includes Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Roger Federer, Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff.


In 2022, Americans including Clervie Ngounoue, Cooper Williams and Kaitlin Quevedo are among the contenders hoping to add their name to the Orange Bowl's storied roll of honor. In all, 50 U.S. players—23 boys and 27 girls—are entered in the 18-and-under event, which will be played from Dec. 5-14. The 16-and-under event will be played simultaneously, and both age brackets will crown boys' and girls' singles and doubles champions. 

Ngounoue and Quevedo lead the way for U.S. hopes in the girls' 18s draw as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds, respectively, and will hope to take advantage of a wide-open field that does not feature a single Top 10 player. In all, six Americans are seeded: No. 11 Tatum Evans, No. 13 Ariana Anazagasty-Pursoo, No. 14 Mia Slama and No. 16 Theadora Rabman join Ngounoue and Quevedo in the Top 16.


Great Britain's Ella McDonald, ranked No. 11 in the world, is the top seed in the girls' draw, while Czech Tereza Valentova, the world No. 12, is seeded second. Notably, Ngounoue and Valentova could meet in the quarterfinals—their second meeting in a month. In November, Ngounoue defeated Valentova 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the U.S.'s victory in the junior Billie Jean King Cup final.


Ngounoue, in fact, hasn't tasted defeat since she was beaten in the quarterfinals of the US Open by Valentova's compatriot, Lucie Havlickova: In addition to going 5-0 in Billie Jean King Cup matches, she stormed to six victories last week in Merida, Mexico to win her first singles title of 2022, and biggest of her career, at the Grade A-level event. Her quest to win back-to-back Grade A tournaments begins against Australia's Zara Larke.

Clervie Ngounoue. Photo by Brad Penner/USTA.

Other U.S. girls to watch include Ngounoue's Billie Jean King Cup teammate Iva Jovic, who's playing in the highest age bracket despite being just 14 years old; Victoria Osuigwe, who's the younger sister of 2017 champion Whitney and successfully qualified for the main draw; and Maddy Zampardo, who arrives in Plantation as a qualifier, but hot on the heels of a victory at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Indoor Championships.


2020 Orange Bowl 16s champion Valeria Ray is also playing in this year's 18s event; she'll seek to join players like Bianca Andreescu, Chris Evert and Mary Joe Fernandez in winning both the 16s and 18s titles, but she'll have to upset No. 3 seed Luciana Moyano of Argentina first up to start that effort. 

Cooper Williams. Photo by Darren Carrol/USTA.

No. 6 Williams, currently ranked No. 32, is one of two Americans seeded in a boys' draw that features just three of the current Top 10; he's joined by No. 15 seed Alexander Frusina, who was the runner-up in the 16s division a year ago. Quang Duong, who beat Frusina in the 2021 final in three sets, is also in the draw; unseeded, he'll face Poland's Kacper Szymkowiak in Round 1 as he seeks to join players including Courier, Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl to win in both age groups all-time. 


Other Americans to watch in the boys' draw include US Open quarterfinalist Kyle Kang, who was given a wild card; and two of the three players who led the junior U.S. Davis Cup team to a second-place finish last month in Turkey, Alexander Razeghi and Kaylan Bigun. (Meecah Bigun, Kaylan's brother, rounded out that team, but was forced to withdraw from the Orange Bowl on Saturday despite initially entering.)

The 64-player boys' and girls' 16s draws are stacked with Americans: In fact, there are only six female and 14 male competitors from elsewhere. New York's Claire An, the 2019 USTA Girls' 12s national champion, is seeded second behind South Korea's Lee Hyunyee, while Virginia's Stiles Brockett, who trains at the famed Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Md., is the No. 1 seed in the boys' singles.


Fans looking to follow the action in Plantation can follow live scores throughout the week, and more information can be found on the official event website

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