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Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Look at First ITF Junior Rankings of 2018; Quarterfinals Set at Los Angeles Futures; De Minaur Beats Mmoh to Reach ATP Brisbane Semifinals


The first ITF junior rankings of 2018 were released this week, and there is a new No. 1 among the boys.  With those born in 1999 no longer eligible for a junior ranking, Timofey Skatov of Russia is now No. 1. 

Whitney Osuigwe continues as No. 1 in the girls rankings, and with no points coming off until the French Open in June, she is likely to remain at No. 1 for a long time, even without playing any junior events. No. 2 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine is defending 475 singles points this month, including the 375 points at the Australian Open Junior Championships, and already behind Osuigwe by 200 points, she needs to win it again just to stay within striking distance.

Skatov's lead over No. 2 Marko Miladinovic of Serbia is less than 100 points and both are entered in this month's Grade 1 in Tralragon and the Australian Open Junior Championships, so Skatov's reign at No. 1 could be brief.

The top US junior in the boys rankings is Sebastian Korda at No. 6. Korda, the only American in the Top 10, played only one junior tournament since the US Open last fall, reaching the singles final of the Grade A in Mexico City and winning the doubles.   There are 12 other US boys in the Top 100:  Andrew Fenty[13], Tristan Boyer[19], Drew Baird[25], Trey Hilderbrand[34], Govind Nanda[51], Sangeet Sridhar[55], Axel Nefve[62], Brian Shi[67], Tyler Zink[84], Jaycer Lyeons[92], Keenan Mayo[94] and William Woodall[99].

US girls make up over a fifth of the Top 100, with 22 making that cut. Russia, with 9 in the Top 100, is second.

The Americans are: Osuigwe[1], Claire Liu[3], Amanda Anisimova[7], Ann Li[13], Alexa Noel[19], Elysia Bolton[25], Caty McNally[30], Natasha Subhash[32], Taylor Johnson[37], Hurricane Tyra Black[38], Hailey Baptiste[43], Coco Gauff[47], Ellie Douglas[54],  Peyton Stearns[63], Nicole Mossmer[65], Dalayna Hewitt[70], Vanessa Ong[77], Elli Mandlik[82], Katie Volynets[83], Chloe Beck[85], Sabina Dadaciu[92] and Lea Ma[93].

As is always the case, some talented juniors will decide to concentrate on the Pro Circuit rather than the ITF Junior Circuit, and some will play only USTA events, so these rankings, as with all rankings, should be taken with a grain of salt.

The quarterfinals are set at the $25,000 Futures in Los Angeles, with two current collegians, both Americans, advancing.  TCU junior Alex Rybakov, a wild card, defeated former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in over three hours, while Notre Dame junior Alex Lebedev, a qualifier, breezed by lucky loser Gianni Ross 6-1, 6-1. The 20-year-old Lebedev, who had a strong fall season for the Irish, earned his first ATP point with a win over USC sophomore Brandon Holt Wednesday.  Also advancing to the quarterfinals are qualifier Florian Lakat(Cal) of France, qualifier Karue Sell(UCLA) of Brazil, No. 5 seed Chris Eubanks, who left Georgia Tech this summer after his junior year, and former Pepperdine star Alex Sarkissian, the No. 1 seed. Eubanks and Sarkissian will meet in the marquee match of the day Friday.

The recap of today's action from press aide Steve Pratt follows:

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 4, 2018) – Texas Christian University junior Alex Rybakov was one spot out from main-draw entry last week and fully prepared to play qualifying when he learned he was granted a USTA wild card and moved directly into the main draw.

The 20-year-old Rybakov from Florida has taken full advantage of the generosity shown to him. On Thursday in the second round of the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament at USC, Rybakov beat former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in three tough sets, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals in the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event.

“Coming out of the juniors it was tough for me to adjust because I really wanted to turn pro, but after playing two years in school I think have adjusted pretty well,” said Rybakov, who faces qualifier and former UCLA star Karue Sell at 10 a.m. on Friday. 

The smooth left-handed Rybakov plays for TCU coach and former Southern Californian David Roditi. The team will be without star Cameron Norrie, the British player who has vaulted into the top No. 110 in the ATP Tour rankings since school let out in May.

Rybakov made the finals of two $10,000 Futures events when he was 18, and last June he won his first USTA Pro Futures title, a $15,000 event in Buffalo.

“I’ve been here since last Wednesday and was prepared to play qualifying,” Rybakov said. “I will play Long Beach next week then looking forward to going back to school.”

The other 10 a.m. quarterfinal will pit top-seeded Alex Sarkissian against Christopher Eubanks. The 27-year-old Sarkissian of Glendale beat UCLA senior Martin Redlicki, 6-1, 6-3.

Sarkissian holds six USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Pro Circuit singles titles, including two titles in 2017, and one doubles title. Last year at this time Sarkissian was in Australian and played a tune-up tournament before attempting to qualify for the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open. A hip injury slowed him in August at the US Open, and he basically has spent the past four months rehabbing. A sinus infection forced him to pull out of doubles earlier this week.

“I’m definitely not feeling 100 percent,” said Sarkissian, who is not entered into the Long Beach Pro Futures event next week as he still has his sights set Down Under. “I’m six spots out from getting into qualifying so still hoping enough guys pull out. Every morning I’m checking the entry list.”

The doubles final will be contested on Friday at 4 p.m., as the top-seeded team of Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico take on Sell and Redlicki.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Results
wc: wild card; q: qualifying; ll: lucky loser
Florian Lakat, France (q), def. Evan Song, U.S., 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2)
Alex Sarkissian (1) def. Martin Redlicki, U.S. (q), 6-1, 6-3
Alexander Lebedev, U.S. (q), def. Gianni Ross, U.S. (ll), 6-1, 6-1
Kaichi Uchida, Japan (6), def. Luke Bambridge, Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2
Karue Sell, Brazil (q), def. Ulises Blanch, U.S., 7-6 (8), 6-3
Christopher Eubanks, U.S., def. Guillermo Olaso, Spain, 6-1, 6-3
Jan Satral, Czech Repbulic (7), def. Roberto Marcora, Italy, 7-5, 7-6 (5)
Alex Rybakov, U.S. (wc), def. Emilio Gomez, Ecaudor, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5

Thursday’s Semifinal Doubles Results
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain/Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Deiton Baughman, U.S./Christopher Eubanks, U.S. (3), 6-4, 6-2

Martin Redlicki, U.S./Karue Sell, Brazil, def. Andre Goransson, Sweden/Florian Lakat, France (4), 2-6, 6-3, 10-8

Two teenagers met tonight in the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Brisbane, with 18-year-old wild card Alex De Minaur of Australian defeating 19-year-old qualifier Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-0.  Mmoh was broken at 4-all in the first set after two bad challenges in the game, both on balls on the baseline that he thought were out, so stopped play to challenge. He didn't win a game after that, as De Minaur, who had beaten Mmoh in their only previous meeting in the quarterfinals of the 2015 US Open Junior Championships, came up big on every important point, buoyed by an appreciative Australian crowd. 

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