Dolehide, Blumberg win openers at Int'l Spring Championships

March 31, 2015 07:33 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to

CARSON, Calif. – One year ago, Caroline Dolehide didn’t have an ITF world junior ranking high enough to earn entry into the main draw of the Girls’ 18s singles at the Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships. Dolehide instead needed a USTA wild card and wasn’t able to do much with it, falling to No. 7-seeded Michaela Gordon in the first round in three sets.

But a lot has changed for the 16-year-old high school sophomore from Hinsdale, Ill., in one year, including a US Open juniors semifinal appearance last fall that suddenly put her on the map and made her a future young American to watch.

And watched she was during her 6-0, 6-2 win over Meaghan Kelley on Monday, when main-draw play began at the 2015 tournament, taking place at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Numerous college coaches from schools, including Michigan, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine and USC, were on hand to check out some of the nation’s top junior tennis talent.

“I saw Michigan and some others. Yeah, I saw them all,” said Dolehide (pictured above), whose sister Courtney played at UCLA. “I haven’t really given it much thought or visited anywhere, but I have time.”

It didn’t appear that Dolehide got off to a slow start, looking at her 6-0 score, but she admitted it took her awhile to get used to the elements, as she trains indoors in Illinois.

“It was really windy today, and that was so tough to get used to,” she said.

Although she made it to the semifinals in the 16s in 2013, losing to Claire Liu, and advanced to the 18s doubles final in Carson last year, she said the US Open performance is what got her noticed.

“I played some Pro Circuit events to start the year and didn’t do so well, but now that the summer is coming, I’ll be playing more ITF juniors and am going to play the junior Grand Slams this summer. I’ve come a long way in one year.”

The top-seed in the boys’ 18s, 17-year-old William Blumberg, from Greenwich, Conn., beat Vasil Kirkov, 6-4, 6-4, in his first-round match.

“I was expecting it to be tough,” Blumberg said. “I’ve practiced with Vasil before and knew he was a tough player. He’s a little smaller, so he can’t overpower you, but he’s scrappy, and he fights for every point.”

At No. 17 in the world, Blumberg is the highest-ranked player in the boys’ draw after an appearance in the final of the Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre in Brazil two weeks ago.

The entire first-round in the boys’ and girls’ singles was completed, with the top eights seeds receiving byes into the second round. Winning on Day 1 was former French Open champion Michael Chang’s niece, Katie Chang. She came back to beat Jessica Aragon, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the Girls’ 16s.

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