Bellis leads U.S. juniors in world team competition qualifying rounds

April 22, 2015 12:29 PM

By Sally Milano,

Reigning ITF World Junior Champion CiCi Bellis is one of 12 top American juniors nominated to represent the U.S. in the qualifying rounds of Junior Davis and Junjior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas (16-and-under) and World Junior Tennis (14-and-under), the world’s premier junior team competitions.

The events will be played April 30 to May 2 on green clay courts at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.  

The North/Central American and Caribbean Final Qualifying rounds include three days of round-robin play, with each matchup consisting of two singles matches and one doubles match. The top two countries from each four-country pool will advance to the Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup Finals, Sept. 29-Oct. 4 in Madrid, Spain, and the World Junior Tennis Finals, Aug. 3-8 in Prostejov, Czech Republic.

A trio of 16-year-olds – Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Fla.; Sam Riffice of Roseville, Calif.; and Gianni Ross of La Grange, Ill. – were nominated to represent the U.S. on the Junior Davis Cup team. They will face Aruba, Canada and Mexico in the qualifying-round competition.

Joining Bellis (pictured above) on the Junior Fed Cup team are Michaela Gordon, 15, from Los Altos Hills, Calif., and Claire Liu, 14, from Thousand Oaks, Calif. The girls will face Canada, the Dominican Republic and Mexico in their pool.

In World Junior Tennis play, the boys' team of Govind Nanda, 14, from Redlands, Calif.; Brandon Nakashima, 13, from San Diego; and Adam Neff, 13, from Bradenton, Fla., and the girls' team of Amanda Anisimova, 13, of Hallandale Beach, Fla.; Hurricane Tyra Black, 14, of Boca Raton, Fla.; and Caty McNally, 14, from Cincinnati, will face teams from Canada, Guatemala and Mexico.

Bellis, a 15-year-old from Atherton, Calif., helped lead the U.S. to the Junior Fed Cup title in 2014, its second in three years. She reunites with Gordon and Liu, with whom she won World Junior Tennis gold in 2013. Since then, Bellis has risen into the Top 200 of the WTA rankings after a breakout performance at the 2014 US Open, where she upset then-No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round to become the youngest player to win a match at Flushing Meadows since 1996 (Anna Kournikova).

Liu also made history recently, winning the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Orlando, Fla., in March, to become the youngest women’s USTA Pro Circuit tournament champion since 1996 (also Kournikova). Gordon, meanwhile, has risen into the Top 30 of the ITF World Junior Rankings.

Among the boys, Ross helped the U.S. win its third Junior Davis Cup title in 2014. He also teamed with Riffice, the No. 1 player in the USTA Boys’ 16s national standings, to lead the U.S. to the World Junior Tennis finals in 2013.

The U.S. has won three Junior Fed Cup titles (2008, 2012, 2014), three Junior Davis Cup titles (1999, 2008, 2014), six World Junior tennis girls’ titles (1992, 2007-10, 2013) and four World Junior Tennis boys’ titles (2002-03, 2008, 2012).

Past U.S. junior international team members include Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport and Sloane Stephens. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have also represented their countries in junior international team competition.

Updated May 5, 2015:
All four U.S. teams finished in first place at the North/Central America and Caribbean Final Qualifying event, advancing to the final round of the ITF World Junior Tennis and Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas events. Click here for more information.