American juniors thriving at French Open

June 3, 2015 11:15 AM

By Sally Milano,

U.S. junior players sure do love the red clay at Roland Garros this year.

With the quarterfinals set at the 2015 French Open, four of the eight players remaining in the boys' singles draw are from the United States, and two American girls are still alive in the tournament as well.

U.S. juniors are also having great success in doubles, with six players still competing for the trophy in Paris.

Leading the boys’ field is Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who is seeded No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles with partner Orlando Luz of Brazil. Fritz (pictured above) has advanced to the quarterfinals of both draws without dropping a set. In singles, he will play Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera of Chile for a spot in the semifinals, and in doubles, he and Luz will take on the unseeded duo of Tim Sandkaulen of Germany and Mate Valkusz of Hungary in the quarterfinals.

Unseeded Reilly Opelka, a 6-foot-10 right-hander who is playing in his first tournament on red clay, notched the biggest upset of the boy's draw Wednesday, stunning top seed and world No. 1 Luz, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, to advance to the singles quarterfinals. Opelka, who has been mentored by former tour player Tom Gullikson, will face fellow American and No. 6 seed Michael Mmoh in the quarterfinals. Mmoh, from Bradenton, Fla., has lost only 12 games total in his three singles matches and has not dropped a set in doubles with partner Akira Santillan of Japan.

No. 13 Tommy Paul of Boca Raton, Fla., has also had a smooth road to the quarterfinals, with straight-sets wins in each of his singles and doubles matches. Paul next faces Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina in singles, and he and doubles partner William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., will take on Dragos Nicolae Madaras of Romania and Louis Wessels of Germany in the doubles quarterfinals.

On the girls' side, No. 3 seed Katerina Stewart of Miami beat Anna Blinkova of Russia, 6-1, 5-7, 6-1, Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals. Stewart, who has a WTA ranking of No. 161 and finished in second place in the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge to earn a wild card into the women's qualifying draw at Roland Garros, is also still alive in doubles, where she and partner Caroline Dolehide of Hinsdale, Ill.,won their opening-round match. Stewart will play No. 12 seed Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain in the singles quarterfinals Thursday.

No. 4 CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., easily advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic. Bellis, who also played in the women's qualifying tournament and who Tuesday night received the 2014 ITF Junior Girls' Champion award at the official ITF World Champions dinner, scraped out a win in her second-round match, notching a 4-6, 6-1, 8-6, comeback victory over Sofya Zhuk of Russia. Bellis next plays Fanny Stollar of Hungary in the quarterfinals.