Eddie Herr Preview
by Colette Lewis
, 24 November 2010
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As the holidays approach, the professional tennis world takes a short collective breath before next year's fresh start and first major. But junior tennis is still going strong, with three of the year's most important events coinciding with the Christmas shopping season. The first of those, the Eddie Herr, begins this weekend, with nearly 2,000 junior tennis players converging on the Bradenton academy of legendary coach Nick Bollettieri to compete for titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age divisions. With over 30 courts constantly occupied with juniors of all sizes and ages, it can be difficult to decide which match to watch. Here are a few names to look for.
The U.S. is looking for its third consecutive boys title, with Alex Domijan and Denis Kudla taking the last two. Easter Bowl and USTA Clay Court 18s champion Bjorn Fratangelo is among the contenders to keep that string alive, along with ITF B1 Pan American finalist Shane Vinsant and US Open Junior quarterfinalist Dennis Novikov.
Mate Pavic of Croatia and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador are the only two players in the ITF Top 10 in the field, suggesting that there is no odds-on favorite this year. Great Britain will send a strong group headed by 2010 Wimbledon boys semifinalist Oliver Golding, who reached the quarterfinals at the Eddie Herr last year. Golding is joined by 16-year-old Liam Broady, the Wimbledon boys doubles champion who has been honing his game on clay in Futures events this fall, and George Morgan, who has also been playing on the ITF Men's Circuit the past few months.
Other Americans in the main draw include 2009 Kalamazoo 16s champion Gonzales Austin, and two former Eddie Herr champions: Mitchell Krueger, who won the 12s in 2006, and Alexios Halebian, who captured the 14s title in 2008.
In the girls 18s, Daria Gavrilova of Russia will not be defending her title, but there is no dearth of her countrywomen poised to equal her accomplishment. Fifteen-year-olds Irina Khromacheva, likely the top seed, and Yulia Putintseva, the runner-up to Gavrilova at the U.S. Open juniors, will be favorites, with Daria Salnikova of Russia also among the seeds. Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the reigning French Open girls champion, and An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium join Khromacheva as players arriving with ITF Top 10 rankings.
The Americans will be led by Lauren Davis
, who has recently brought her WTA ranking inside the Top 500 with wins at $10,000 and $25,000 Pro Circuit events. Madison Keys
, the 2007 Eddie Herr champion
in the 12s, recently defeated Davis on her way to capturing the Pan American Closed
, with Davis returning the favor a few weeks later in the final of the $25,000 tournament in Puerto Rico. Keys, 15, was a quarterfinalist last year in the 18s at the Eddie Herr, and she too is now ranked inside the Top 500 by the WTA. U.S. Open quarterfinalist Robin Anderson
is also likely to go deep in the draw, but she will not have the benefit of a seed.