The USTA has announced eight top American juniors selected to represent the United States in two elite 14-and-under events in Europe: the AEGON Junior International, held in Bolton, England, Jan. 16-22; and Les Petits As, held in Tarbes, France, Jan. 23-29. The events annually feature some of the world’s best players aged 14-and-under. A number of former Les Petits As champions have gone on to become No. 1 in the world, including Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis.
In 2011, Stefan Kozlov defeated fellow American Henrik Wiersholm to win the AEGON Junior International title for the second consecutive year, and a week later Wiersholm joined Michael Chang as an American Les Petits As champion, becoming the first American boy to win Les Petits As since Donald Young in 2005. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is among other Americans to have captured titles at Les Petits As, while Lindsay Davenport was a finalist in 1990.
William Blumberg, 13, Greenwich, Conn.
Michael Mmoh, 14, Bradenton, Fla.
Nathan Ponwith, 13, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Francis Tiafoe, 13, College Park, Md.
Alicia Black, 13, Boca Raton, Fla.
Nicole Frenkel, 13, Winchester, Mass.
Emma Higuchi, 13, Los Angeles
Raquel Pedraza, 13, Claremont, Calif.
The players will be accompanied by Ricardo Acuna, USTA Lead National Coach for Men’s Tennis, and Sylvain Guichard, USTA National Coach for Women’s Tennis.
Blumberg captured the 2010 USTA Boys’ 12s Winter National Championships and reached the quarterfinals at the 2010 USTA Boys’ 12s National Clay Court Championships. He is currently No. 48 in the USTA Boys’ 14s National Standings.
Mmoh, the boys’ 12s champion at the 2010 Junior Orange Bowl, spent much of 2011 competing overseas. He reached the final in back-to-back events in Portugal in June, winning one title, and also reached the semifinals of an ITF World Junior Circuit 18-and-under event in Saudi Arabia in October.
Ponwith reached the boys’ 12s singles final at both the USTA National Clay Court Championships and the USTA National Championships in 2010, and he won a USTA Boys’ 14s National Open in 2011. He is currently No. 20 in the USTA Boys’ 14s National Standings.
Tiafoe, currently the top-ranked player in the USTA Boys’ 14s National Standings, reached the semifinals at both the AEGON Junior International and Les Petits As in 2011. He also captured the 2011 USTA Boys’ 14s Winter National Championships last month.
Black, nicknamed Tornado, won the girls’ 16s title at the 2011 Eddie Herr and reached the girls’ 14s title at the 2011 Junior Orange Bowl. She trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., and is currently No. 27 in the USTA Girls’ 14s National Standings.
Frenkel, ranked No. 26 in the USTA Girls’ 14s National Standings, reached the quarterfinals at the AEGON Junior International in 2011 and won the girls’ 12s title at the 2010 Junior Orange Bowl.
Higuchi is currently ranked No. 3 in the USTA Girls’ 14s National Standings. She recently reached the semifinals at the 2011 USTA Girls’ 14s Winter National Championships and also reached the semifinals at the 2011 USTA Girls’ 14s National Clay Court Championships.
Pedraza reached the final of the 2011 Girls’ 14s National Championships and is currently No. 7 in the USTA Girls’ 14s National Standings.