RELATED: USTA International Spring Championships home
By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. – Boys' 18s top seed and world No. 7-ranked junior Francis Tiafoe dispatched William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., 6-1, 6-2, on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the 10th annual USTA International Spring Championships, taking place at the StubHub Center.
The 16-year-old Tiafoe, who last December became the youngest boys' 18s champion in the 67-year history of the Metropolia Orange Bowl, will meet No. 8-seeded Sameer Kumar of Carmel, Ind., on Friday in the second match on featured Court 4. In the opener on the court starting at 9 a.m. PT, unseeded Christina Makarova of San Diego will face No. 5 seed CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., in a girls’ 18s quarterfinal.
Makarova, 17, was a semifinalist here last year as the top-seeded player and is playing her first junior tournament since the US Open last September. Because of injuries and a focus on ITF professional events over the past six months, Makarova’s junior world ranking has slipped to No. 172.
“This will probably be my last junior tournament,” Makarova said after beating Mary Haffey of Naples, Fla., 6-0, 7-6(4), on Thursday. “This tournament is close to home, so I thought, 'What the heck, I might as well play to get some matches in.'”
Makarova first played the 16s here in 2010 as a 13-year-old and fell to Mayo Hibi.
Also moving on to the quarterfinals on Thursday was No. 7 seed Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who beat William Bushamuka of Princeton, N.J., 6-0, 6-4. Fritz will next face Aron Hiltzik of Wilmette, Ill. The unseeded Hiltzik came back from a slow start to upset No. 3 Alex Rybakov of Coral Springs, Fla., 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
There were no upsets in the boys’ 16s quarterfinals, as No. 14 Jacob Brumm of Rancho Santa Fe, No. 11 Patrick Kypson of Greenville, N.C., No. 9 John McNally of Cincinnati and No. 7 Alex Phillips of Peachtree City, Ga., each moved on without dropping a set.
In the girls’ 16s, Samantha Martinelli, the No. 12-seeded player from Denver, upset Kayla Day, the No. 4 seed from Santa Barbara, Calif., 6-3, 6-4. No. 13 Kalani Soli of Carson, Calif., and No. 3 Rya Peus of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., also advanced to the semifinals, along with No. 16 Alaina Miller of Saratoga, Calif.
Also on Thursday, former US Open junior doubles winner Gabby Andrews advanced to the semifinals of the girls’ 18s doubles. Andrews and Sandra Samir, seeded seventh, beat the No. 2 seeds, Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, in straight sets. Andrews and her US Open doubles partner, current WTA pro Taylor Townsend, won this event in 2011.
To get an idea of the kind of talent the USTA International Spring Championships produces, just two years ago, Belinda Bencic was playing in the girls' 18s. On Thursday, the 17-year-old advanced to her first WTA quarterfinal in Charleston, S.C.
Also, pro players Sam Querrey, the event’s first winner in 2005, Alison Riske and 2010 champion Daniel Kosakowski all stopped by on a break from training at the USTA Training Center-West in Carson to watch some of the action.