Bellis, Kozlov lead field at 2014 Metropolia Orange Bowl

December 3, 2014 10:16 AM

By Sally Milano,

Americans CiCi Bellis and Stefan Kozlov are among the world's top junior tennis players who are heading to Plantation, Fla., later this week to compete in one of the world's most prestigious junior tournaments – the 68th Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships.

The tournament is taking place Dec. 8-14 at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center and will feature singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in 18-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. For the fourth straight year, the event will be played on clay – the surface that was used from 1947 to 1998. Boys’ and Girls’ 18s qualifying begins on Saturday, Dec. 6.

The girls' ITF year-end No. 1 junior ranking could be at stake at this year's tournament, with current world No. 1 Shilin Xu of China, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion, and No. 2-ranked Bellis, who made international headlines at the 2014 US Open with her first-round victory over Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, both in the draw.

Also scheduled to compete in the Girls’ 18s field are 2013 Orange Bowl semifinalist Sofia Kenin and other top American girls Raveena Kingsley and Usue Arconada.

Headlining the Boys’ 18s field are Russia’s Andrey Rublev, the 2014 French Open boys’ champion and current top-ranked junior, and Kozlov (pictured above), the 2014 Wimbledon and Australian Open junior finalist who recently became the youngest player in the Top 500 of the ATP professional rankings.

Several top American prospects are also entered to play, including Michael Mmoh, 2014 Wimbledon junior semifinalist Taylor Fritz, Alex Rybakov, Reilly Opelka and 2014 USTA National Clay Court champion Tommy Paul.

Founded by Eddie Herr in 1947, the Orange Bowl is one of the premier international junior events in the world. Players from more than 50 countries have competed in the tournament and champions have emerged from 28 different nations.

Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under singles titles include: Chris Evert (1969-70), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995). Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000, 2001), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005) all won the event on hard courts.

Follow all the latest news, photos, draws and schedules from the 2014 Orange Bowl here.