Some of the world’s top junior tennis players–including five boys ranked within the International Tennis Federation’s Top 50–will converge on Carson, Calif. as the ninth annual USTA International Spring Championships will take place at the Home Depot Center. Long Island's Noah Rubin, 17, is expected to be the top-seeded boys’ 18s player. Currently 20th in the world ITF rankings, Rubin was a semifinalist in Carson 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 21 in the world rankings and will be seeded number two.
Last year’s ISC 18s doubles winner Mackenzie McDonald from Northern California is third (36th in the world), Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa is fourth (40th in the world), and American’s Luca Corintelli and Spencer Papa, numbers five (43rd in the world) and sixth (52nd in the world), respectively, are expected to round out the top six.
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 14 and is expected to be the top-seeded girl in the 18s. Makarova has a WTA world ranking of 872nd and took advantage of a wild-card opportunity at a USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event in February and won a round.
Irvine, Calif.’s Mayo Hibi, who represents Japan, will turn 17 next Wednesday and is currently WTA ranked 374th 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 541st in the world WTA rankings. Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez (24th in the ITF rankings), Mexico’s Alejandra Cisneros (25th in the ITP), Egypt’s Sandra Samir (42nd in the ITF) and Jamie Loeb (67th in the ITF rankings) are the other top girls’ 18s players.
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.).
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.
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.