Int'l Spring Championships

Draw Top Juniors

Steve Pratt  |  March 24, 2016

Defending champion William Blumberg and 15-year-old Southern California resident Claire Liu are among the favorites at the 12th annual USTA International Spring Championships, which kick off Saturday, March 26, at the StubHub Center, home of the USTA Training Center – West.


But it’s a pair of Florida residents who have locked down the top-seeded positions, as Ulises Blanch of Pompano Beach, Fla., and 14-year-old Amanda Anisimova of Hallandale Beach, Fla., are ranked No. 9 and No. 11, respectively, in the current ITF World Junior Rankings.


Last year in the boys' tournament, Blumberg, who will be seeded No. 2 in Carson this year with a No. 13 ITF ranking, dominated play as the top-seeded player en route to the Carson ITF Grade 1 title. A week later he was upset by Sam Riffice of Roseville, Calif., in the semifinals at the ASICS Easter Bowl. ADVERTISEMENT The 17-year-old Riffice (ITF No. 44) has been training with an elite group of USTA juniors at the USTA Training Center Headquartersin Boca Raton, Fla., and will be seeded No. 4.


Both Riffice and Nathan Ponwith (No. 3; No. 27 ITF) of Scottsdale, Ariz., were eliminated from the Easter Bowl a year ago by Taylor Fritz, who has since ascended to No. 81 in the ATP World Tour rankings. Other top-seeded American boys in Carson will be No. 5 Vasil Kirkov (No. 56) from Tampa, Fla.; No. 6 Zeke Clark (No. 66) of Tulsa, Okla.; and Rolling Hills’ No. 7 Brandon Holt (No. 76), the son of tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin.


On the girls' side, the Carson No. 5-seeded Liu (pictured above) was just 14 years old last year when she won the Easter Bowl. She recently took a set off of WTA pro Donna Vekic (highest WTA rank No. 62) at the Miami Open qualifying event.


Anisimova leapfrogged Santa Barbara’s Kayla Day in the ITF rankings for the Carson No. 1 seed after she made the final of the Porto Alegre Grade A in Brazil just last week. Day is right behind her at No. 2 at Carson and No. 12 in the world junior rankings, followed by No. 3 Maria Mateas (No. 29) from Braintree, Mass.


A year ago, Kylie McKenzie was not the decorated junior player she is today. Ranked No. 36 in the ITF junior world rankings, McKenzie, of Anthem, Ariz., upset last year’s ISC 18s champ Sonya Kenin a week after Carson. She went on to make the quarterfinals at the US Open Junior Championships and then won the prestigious Eddie Herr Junior Internationals in December 2015.


Next in the seedings for the 2016 International Spring Championships, behind No. 4 McKenzie, is reigning Easter Bowl champion Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., at No. 5 (No. 37 ITF), followed by No. 6 Michaela Gordon (No. 43) of Los Altos Hills, Calif.; No. 7 Morgan Coppoc (No. 44) of Tulsa, Okla.; and No. 8 Taylor Johnson (No. 57) of Redondo Beach, Calif.


Govind Nanda of nearby Cerritos, Calif., is the top-seeded player in the boys’ 16s, followed by Axel Nefve of Hinsdale, Ill.; William Grant of Boca Raton, Fla.; Tyler Zink of Lakewood Ranch, Fla.; and Adam Neff of Bradenton, Fla.


Fourteen-year-old Kacie Harvey of Braintree, Mass., will be the top-seeded player in the girls’ 16s, followed by Marcella Cruz of Marlboro, N.J.; Niluka Madurawe of Sunnyvale, Calif.; Dasha Kourkina of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Peyton Stearns of Mason, Ohio.


Past champions of the event include Sam Querrey (2005), Bradley Klahn (2008), Sloane Stephens (2009) and Melanie Oudin (2008), who are just a few that have gone on to bigger and better things on the pro and collegiate circuit. Other notable past participants who have gone on to reach the world's Top 100 include Milos Raonic, Madison Keys, Steve Johnson, Christina McHale, Madison Brengle, Vania King, Ryan Harrison, Nicole Gibbs, CoCo Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis and Taylor Townsend.


Singles qualifying will take place Saturday and Sunday, with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boys’ and girls’ 16s on Saturday, April 2, and boys’ and girls’ 18s on Sunday, April 3. The tournament director is once again John Lansville.


All matches can be followed via Live Scoring through Tennis Ticker, the ITF’s official live scoring company.


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