CARSON, Calif., (Friday, March 29, 2013) – Some of the world’s top junior tennis players – including five boys ranked within the International Tennis Federation’s Top 50 – will converge here next week as the ninth annual USTA International Spring Championships takes place beginning Monday at the Home Depot Center.
Noah Rubin, 17, is expected to be the top-seeded boys’ 18s player and hails from Rockville Centre, N.Y. Currently No. 20 in the world ITF rankings, Rubin was a semifinalist here last year in the 18s after winning the 16s in 2011, overcoming a 1-4 deficit in a third-set tiebreaker in a memorable final.
Rubin made the semifinals at a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event last year, the Easter Bowl, the USTA Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich., as well as the quarterfinals at the French Open Juniors.
Last year’s 18s singles finalist Stefan Kozlov, 15, from Pembroke Pines, Fla., is right behind Rubin at No. 21 in the world rankings and will be seeded No. 2.
Last year’s ISC 18s doubles winner Mackenzie McDonald from Northern California is No. 3 (No. 36 in the world), Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa No. 4 (No. 40), and Junior Tennis Champion’s Center Alum Luca Corintelli and Spencer Papa, No. 5 (No. 43) and No. 6 (No. 52), respectively, are expected to round out the Top 6.
Top juniors from Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Argentina and Venezuela will be represented in the boys’ 18s.
On the girls’ side, Christina Makarova, 16, from San Diego comes in with the highest ITF ranking at No. 14 and is expected to be the top-seeded girl in the 18s. Makarova has a WTA world ranking of No. 872 and took advantage of a wild-card opportunity at a USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event in February and won a round.
Irvine’s Mayo Hibi, who represents Japan, will turn 17 next Wednesday and is currently WTA ranked No. 374 in the world, but doesn’t have a high enough ITF ranking to be placed within the top 16 seeded players in the 64-player draw. In 2010 Hibi made the final in the 16s here losing to Alyssa Smith.
In the same USTA Pro Circuit event that Makarova won a round in at Rancho Mirage, Hibi did the same, falling to reigning NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs of Stanford in the second round.
Indianapolis’ Brooke Austin is also one to watch and is ranked No. 541 in the world WTA rankings. Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez (No. 24 ITF), Mexico’s Alejandra Cisneros (No. 25), Egypt’s Sandra Samir (No. 42) and Jamie Loeb (No. 67) are the other top girls’ 18s players.
“This year’s USTA International Spring Championships should be another exciting event,” said tournament director John Lansville. “I expect a lot of great tennis next week. There are a number of strong competitors in all of the age divisions, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of upsets at this year’s event.”
In the girls’ 16s, top players will include Ally Miller-Krasilnikov (Boca Raton, Fla.), Jada Robinson (Reisterstown, Md.), Rebecca Weissman (Loveland, Colo.), Tiffany Huber (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Madison Appel (Locust Valley, N.Y.
Miller-Krasilnikov, 15, moved to Florida from Ohio with her family four years ago to enroll at the USTA Player Development Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla. Her father was a former top player in Russia.
On the boys’ side in the 16s, William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., who won the 14s Easter Bowl last year, is the top-seeded player. Jean Thirouin (Houston, Texas), Jack Van Slyke (Canada), Jake Devine (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Robert Levine (Bedford, N.Y) are the top players.
Notable wild cards in the boys’ 18s include Southern California stalwarts Robbie Bellamy (committed to play for USC), Joseph DiGiulio (UCLA), and Gage Brymer (UCLA). Perhaps the top SoCal wild-card prospect to watch, however, is 16-year-old Ernesto Escobedo who currently holds an ATP ranking of No. 967 in the world. On the girls’ side the wild cards include: Emma Higuchi, Alyssa Smith and Spencer Liang.
Last year Allie Kiick won the girls’ 18s. Just two weeks ago, Kiick beat former ISC champion Vania King (2005) on her way to qualifying for the WTA Sony Ericsson Miami Open.
Past champions of the event include Sam Querrey (2005), Ryan Thacher (2007), Bradley Klahn (2008), Sloane Stephens (2009) and Melanie Oudin (2008), just a few who have gone on to bigger and better things on the pro and collegiate circuit.
Singles qualifying will take place this Saturday and Sunday with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boys’ and girls’ 16s on Saturday, April 7, and boys’ and girls’ 18s on Sunday, April 8.
For more information on the tournament log onto the website at