Familiar Faces Headline 2022 Junior Sectionals
WESTBOROUGH, MA - Four days, nine locations and 245 of New England’s best junior tournament players came together for an action-packed 2022 Junior Sectionals. Top players in the 18s, 16s, 14s, and 12s age divisions competed for New England’s most prestigious junior championship at Boston area locations from June 18-21.
Early-round sites were broken up by age division and played most notably at Brandeis University, Regis College, Curry College and Babson College, while the semifinals and finals were all played exclusively at Babson.
Familiar faces headlined this year’s event, including Petro Kuzmenok, Georgia Kulevich and Troy Kudrjavtsev, who each took home their second Sectionals crown. Kulevich and Kudrjavtsev went back to back, winning in the 14s in 2021 and 16s this year, while Kuzmenok won his first title since 2018, when he captured the 12s championship.
The No. 2 seeded Kulevich (Marblehead, MA) knocked out Alexandra Orlins, Gabriella Mazzeo, No. 6 Kaya Moe and Athena Li before squaring up against last year’s 12s Sectionals champion, Nancy Lee, in the final.
Kulevich and Lee split sets, and in the third, Kulevich found herself down 1-5 and staring at two match points. She kept her composure, battled back to win the game and lived to see another. She took five of the next six games to force a match tiebreak and ultimately proved too strong for Lee, winning the breaker 7-3.
On the boys’ side, top-seeded Kudrjavtsev (Westport, CT) ran through the 16s competition, giving up five games in any set just once through the semifinals. He matched up with No. 2 seed Dylan Fayerman in the finals, where he would face his toughest test. Kudrjavtsev and Fayerman battled to a first-set tiebreak, which Kudrjavtsev ultimately put away, 7-4. He then went on to cruise in the second, 6-1, to finish his tournament without dropping a set.
Boys’ 18s champion Petro Kuzmenok (Fairfield, CT) capped off a memorable two weeks with his second tournament title. On June 10, he knocked out top seed Prem Dave to earn the Connecticut High School State Singles Title for the second year in a row, and on Tuesday, he defeated No. 1 seed Xander Barber to win his second overall New England Sectionals.
Kuzmenok dropped just nine games through the first three rounds, defeating all three non-seeded opponents with ease. In the semis, he squared up against former Sectionals champion, Kaiaitz Mendive, who was fresh off a quarterfinal win against Kuzmenok’s State Finals opponent, Dave. Mendibe took Kuzmenok to a second-set tiebreak, but that’s as far as he’d get, as Kuzmenok pulled away late, winning 8-6.
In the final, Kuzmenok slayed tournament giant and New England newcomer, Xander Barber. Standing about 6’4”, the top-seeded Barber moved to New England from North Carolina just weeks before the tournament and appeared to be on his way to his first Sectionals title. But after a huge service game and forcing Barber into unfamiliar territory, Kuzmenok got the better of him to win, 6-3, 6-1.
After losing to eventual champion Ava Esposito in last year’s 18s semifinals, Anna Nguyen (Reading, MA) came back with a vengeance to earn her first Sectionals crown. The top-seeded Nguyen rolled from beginning to end, winning by impressive margins throughout. She earned a first-round bye, and went on to win 6-1, 6-4 in the round of 16, 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-3 in the semis, and took down the seemingly unstoppable No. 2 seed, Olivia Cutone, 6-1, 6-1, in the final.
Omar Rhazali (Stamford, CT) and Leah Zheng (New Canaan) earned titles in the Boys’ and Girls’ 14s respectively. Top-seeded Rhazali didn’t drop a set until the finals, where he battled past No. 4 seed Tomas Grygalis, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, for his first championship.
Zheng’s impressive performance was capped off by knocking out No. 1 seed Elana Zaretsky in the final, 6-2, 6-1. The No. 2 seeded Zheng cruised past No. 6 Halina Nguyen, 6-4, 6-3, in the quarters, followed by a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory over No. 3 Aaciya Sonthonnax.
No. 1 seeded Vallab Kumar (Trumbull, CT) roared back after dropping the first set to Michael Li in the Boys’ 12s final. He took the next two sets, 6-3, 6-3 on his way to the championship.
Top-seeded Ilaria Bitunova (Lenox, MA) needed three and a half hours to eliminate No. 5 seed Olivia Lin in the semifinals, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. She cruised in the final past No. 2 seed Evelyn Blanchette to win the Girls’ 12s title.
Complete Sectionals results can be found here.
Daily Sectionals coverage can be found below:
Days 1 and 2 Instagram stories
Days 3 and 4 Instagram stories
IG Live interview with the Winiecki siblings
Day 4 - Winners
Day 4 - Action shots
Day 4 - Off court
Day 3 - Pt. 3
Day 3 - Pt. 2
Day 3 - Pt. 1
Day 2 - Pt. 2
Day 2 - Pt. 1
Day 1 - Pt. 2
Day 1 - Pt. 1