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Townsend, Rubin Aim for Eddie Herr ITF Titles
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As in 2011, when the surface used for the 18s ITF Grade 1 tournament went from hard courts to clay courts, the 2012 version of the Eddie Herr International at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy has some changes in store.

Taylor Townsend leads the way for the U.S.
© ZooTennis.com
The younger age divisions will have smaller draws, and mixed doubles has been eliminated by the new tournament management. Longtime tournament director and Eddie Herr protégé Rick Workman is no longer involved in the tournament, with IMG stepping in to run the event.

The 18s division will have new champions in 2012, with neither Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan nor Dominic Thiem of Austria, the 2011 winners, competing this year. Both have made the transition to the professional tours, with Putintseva at 125 in the WTA rankings and Thiem at 405 in the ATP rankings.

The girls draw is the stronger of the two, with four of the ITF world junior Top 10 entered, including No. 1 Taylor Townsend of the US, who led her team to the Junior Fed Cup title on clay in September.

The 16-year-old Townsend, who reached the semifinals at the 2011 Eddie Herr, won the Australian Open girls title and three junior slams in doubles this year. She has had success on the Pro Circuit this fall, which has resulted in her WTA ranking going from none to 501, but she will be challenged in Bradenton.

Fifteen-year-old Francoise Abanda of Canada, the 2010 Eddie Herr 14s champion, has beaten Townsend twice this year on grass - at the Wimbledon Junior Championships and in Roehampton warm-up the week before. Abanda, ranked 8th, captured the Grade 1 Pan American Closed last month, which Townsend won in 2011.

Sixteen-year-old Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, ranked No. 3, has won two Grade A's this year - the Italian Open and the Osaka Mayor's Cup, while Russia's Elizaveta Kulichkova, No. 7 in the rankings, won the singles and doubles at the Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico to begin 2012.

IMG Bollettieri Academy welcomes the tournament
© ZooTennis.com
Other international players include Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, whose WTA ranking is 619, Canada's Carol Zhao, who recently signed to play for the Stanford Cardinal next year, and 14-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia, a quarterfinalist at Junior Wimbledon.

The US contingent is a large one that will include Sachia Vickery, whose WTA ranking is inside the Top 400, Chalena Scholl, Christina Makarova and 2011 Eddie Herr doubles champion Jennifer Brady. Other Americans entered are Gabby Andrews, Jamie Loeb, Katrine Steffensen, Rasheeda McAdoo, Caroline Doyle, Denise Starr, Peggy Porter and 2011 Eddie Herr 16s champion Tornado Black.

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