South Florida tennis fans get a rare opportunity every December to see the potential future stars of the game during the Orange Bowl International Championship, one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the world.
Ivan Lendl played Yannick Noah in the 1977 final. Roger Federer played Guillermo Coria in the 1998 final. Marcos Baghdatis and Gael Monfils battled for the bowl of oranges in the 2003 final. Other former boys’ winners include Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. On the girls’ side, former champions include Chris Evert (1969-70), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Anna Kournikova (1995) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005).
This year, fans should keep an eye on American Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga. She is the top-ranked junior girl in the world, and will be favored as the event gets underway Monday on the clay courts at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation.
The tournament, which runs through Sunday, features singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in the 18-Under and 16-Under divisions. Eleven of the world’s top 20 girls and four of the world’s top 20 boys are on this year’s 18-and-under acceptance lists. Later this month, the 16-Unders and 14-Unders compete in the Junior Orange Bowl tournament in Coral Gables.
Townsend, 16, won the 2012 Australian Open junior title, and won junior doubles titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Other top girls to watch include No. 3 Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, No. 6 Francoise Abanda of Canada, the Wimbledon junior semifinalist, and No. 8 Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia.
South Florida will be well-represented. Among the locals competing are 2012 International Spring Championship finalist Chalena Scholl (Pompano Beach) and 2012 International Spring Championship winner Allie Kiick (Plantation), the daughter of former Miami Dolphins running back Jim Kiick. 2011 Orange Bowl semifinalist Sachia Vickery withdrew from the event on Sunday.
The boys’ 18s field is led by No. 3 Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, a 2012 Wimbledon junior semifinalist, as well as Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, a 2012 US Open junior semifinalist.
Other locals in the 18s draw are: Jennifer Brady (Boca Raton); Alicia Black (Boca Raton); and Rasheeda McAdoo, daughter of Bob (Boca Raton). Local players in the 16s are: Ellie Halbauer (Boca Raton); Madison Bourguignon (Boynton Beach); Johnnise Renaud (North Miami); Ally Miller-Krasilnikov (Boca Raton); Tommy Paul (Coconut Creek); Alex Rybakov (Coral Springs); Chase Colton (Davie); Tate Allwardt (Boca Raton); Alex Knight (Miami Shores); Alfredo Perez (Coral Gables); and Jake Stefanik (Coral Springs).