Top-seeded Taylor Townsend showed why she is the world’s No. 1-ranked junior on Wednesday, using her power, drop shots, lobs and trusty serve to knock off Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 and reach the third round of the Orange Bowl International Championship.
The 16-year-old is especially motivated this week because it is her final junior tournament. She won the Australian Open junior title, and the junior doubles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, so she wants to end her junior career with a bang.
Townsend announced Monday that she signed with the Lagardere Unlimited agency and will join the pro tour in 2013. Under the WTA age-eligibility rules, she will be allowed to play a maximum of 12 pro tournaments.
Showing maturity that belies her youth, Townsend wasn’t complaining about the age restrictions.
“I understand the reasoning of what they’re doing, trying to control the schedule so players don’t get burned out,’’ Townsend said. “Unfortunately, you can’t play as many tournaments as you’d like.
“They have good intentions, though, so I can’t be mad at that. They’re just trying to protect the players.’’
She handled a controversy with the USTA with similar grace over the summer. The USTA reportedly refused to pay her travel expenses to the U.S. Open because coaches felt she wasn’t fit. Her family funded the trip and was later reimbursed when the USTA said there had been a misunderstanding. Townsend never lashed out, and continues to train with Kathy Rinaldi at the USTA training center in Boca Raton.
She said the decision to turn pro was easy. She is going in with eyes wide open — and bright blue, sporting her colored contacts.
“I felt like it was good timing, I was ready, so I seized the moment,’’ she said.
“I’m honestly not expecting anything. Go out and just play. No expectations and no pressure. I’ve proven to myself I can hang with people playing in those events, people older than me. I’ll go one match at a time and see where it takes me.’’
It was a good day for Americans at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation. Eighth seed Chalena Scholl of Pompano Beach beat Jana Fett of Croatia 6-2, 6-2. Eleventh seed Allie Kiick of Plantation rallied to beat 14-year-old Olga Fridman of Ukraine 4-6, 6-1, 7-5. In the boys 18s, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski defeated Young Seok Kim of Korea 6-1, 6-1.