Gabby Price is a petite 4-10 and her friend, Nina Gulbransen, is 5-8 and towers over most of the girls in the 12-under division at the Jr. Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships. Both Americans advanced to the Round of 32 on Thursday.
Price, a New Yorker who has trained part-time in South Florida with coach Rick Macci since age 4, beat Weronika Baszak of Poland 6-2, 6-2. Gulbransen beat Qian Liu of China 6-1, 6-0.
Gulbransen is from Colorado, but her family moved to Bradenton when she was 7 and her sister, Ana, was 10 to get them better tennis training. Three years ago, they moved to Boca Raton. Gulbransen’s size and power make her one of the players to watch this week.
Gulbransen won her first 12s tournament when she was 8 years old, and it was played at the Crandon Park Tennis Center. Last year, she was 66-11, won seven titles and was runner-up three times. One of her best finishes was quarterfinalist at the Easter Bowl.
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Price has also played well this year, reaching the quarterfinals at Spring Nationals. She showed up on the scene at the Orange Bowl three years ago, as a 9-year-old who stood 4-3 and weighed 65 pounds. She lost in the third round that year, but she and her father, Marc, a former Penn State player, were optimistic she would be back to contend for a title.
This could be the year.
In other matches, top-seeded Yshai Oliel of Israel got past Robin Parts of Estonia 6-1, 6-0 in the Boys 14s. Oliel won the 12s title two years ago. Others advancing in the 14s were Sebastian Baez of Argentina and Americans Keenan Mayo, William Woodall and Christian Alshon.
In the Girls 14s, winners included Anastasia Potapova, 12-year-old Caty McNally, Taylor Johnson, and Emilana Arango, who beat American Hurricane Tyra Black.
The tournament continues through Dec.23. The Boys 14s are at UM and the Biltmore, Girls 14s at Crandon Park Tennis Center, Boys 12s at Salvadore Tennis Center and Girls 12s at Tropical Park. UM hosts all semifinals and finals except Boys 12s, which will remain on the clay at Salvadore.