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Gavrilova Back to Defend US Open Girls Title; Vesely Hopes to Bookend Year with Second Junior Slam

Daria Gavrilova hasn't had the best of years in 2011. The 17-year-old Russian, the ITF World Junior Champion in 2010, didn't get past the quarterfinals of the three junior slams this year, and relinquished her No. 1 ranking to Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach last month.

Draws for the junior events come out on Saturday
© ZooTennis.com
But those disappointments would fade quickly if the petite and feisty right-hander can defend her title at the US Open junior championships, which begin Sunday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Last year, Gavrilova withstood the pressure of the top seeding, beating compatriot Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2 in the final to claim her first junior slam title. Putintseva, just 16, is also back in New York this year, and will be full of confidence, having collected a $50,000 challenger title in Russia last month, which moved her WTA ranking to a career-high of 237.

It's Caroline Garcia of France however, who will be the top seed this year. The powerful 17-year-old, who reached the second round of the French Open this year and nearly ousted Maria Sharapova there, has a WTA ranking of 138, the best in the field. Because ITF junior No. 1 and Australia Open girls champion Mestach is not playing, Garcia will be in the top spot, but her straight-set loss to Putintseva in the final of the Russian challenger shows there is little separating the top juniors on any given day.

With Mestach out and French Open girls champion Ons Jabeur of Tunisia not competing, 15-year-old Australian Ashleigh Barty is the only 2011 junior slam champion in the girls draw. Barty delivered on her considerable promise at Wimbledon, beating 16-year-old Irina Khromacheva, yet another Russian with designs on the US Open girls title. Both players have grand slam champions as mentors, with Barty drawing on the wisdom of countrywoman Evonne Goolagong and Khromacheva training at Justine Henin's Sixth Sense Tennis Academy.

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, who won the Wimbledon girls doubles title with American Grace Min, will be among the top seeds, as will 15-year-old Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands, who has been considered among the world's best since she was 12.

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