Defending champion and US Open girls’ finalist Sofia Kenin (17, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) headlines a talented Girls’ 18s field at next week’s Metropolia Orange Bowl at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla. that includes 2015 Grand Slam junior champions Dalma Galfi (US Open; Hungary), Sofya Zhuk (Wimbledon; Russia) and Tereza Mihalikova (Australian Open, Slovakia), along with a surplus of top American prospects. The 69th Metropolia Orange Bowl, featuring hundreds of premier 18-and-unders from around the world, will be played Dec. 7-13.
Regarded as the longest-running international junior tennis tournament in the world, the Orange Bowl features singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in 18-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. It will be played on clay—the surface on which it was played from 1947 to 1998—for the fifth straight year. Boys’ and Girls’ 18s qualifying begins on Sat., Dec. 5.
A Girls’ 18s field teeming with talent could very well yield rematches of several 2015 junior Grand Slam singles finals—Galfi and Kenin are both entered, as are Mihalikova and Australian Open finalist Katie Swan, of Great Britain. Top American juniors such as 2014 Orange Bowl Girls’ 18s finalist Ingrid Neel (17, Rochester, Minn.), Top-10 world-ranked junior Usue Arconada (17, College Park, Md.), 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Michaela Gordon (16, Los Altos Hills, Calif.), 2014 US Open semifinalist Caroline Dolehide (17, Hinsdale, Ill.), 2014 USTA Girls’ 16s National Champion Kayla Day (16, Santa Barbara, Calif.), and Claire Liu (15, Thousand Oaks, Calif.), the youngest player in the Top 600 of the WTA rankings, are also expected to compete.
The Boys’ 18s field features talented international prospects, such as 2015 US Open doubles champion Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, 2014 Orange Bowl Boys’ 18s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece and Casper Ruud, of Norway. Top college-bound American boys, such as TCU recruit Alex Rybakov (18, Coral Springs, Fla.) and Georgia recruit Nathan Ponwith (17, Scottsdale, Ariz.), join the next wave of U.S. prospects in this year’s field, led by 2014 Boys’ 16s champion Sam Riffice (16, Roseville, Calif.).
Metropolia returns for the third year as title sponsor of the Orange Bowl. A multinational organization with sectors in finance, infrastructure projects, information technology and sports business, Metropolia has its United States headquarters in Miami and formed a partnership to help operate the full-service Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Fla.
The Orange Bowl returned to clay in 2011 for the first time since 1998, when it moved from the clay courts at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach to the hard courts of its previous location at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne. Many players compete in the Eddie Herr junior championships in Bradenton, Fla., the week prior to competing in the Orange Bowl.
Founded by Eddie Herr in 1947, the Orange Bowl quickly became one of the premier international junior events in the world and an annual showcase for the global scope of the game. Players from more than 50 countries have competed in the tournament, and champions have emerged from 28 different nations. A number of Orange Bowl champions have used the occasion to announce plans to turn professional.
Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under singles titles include: Chris Evert (1969, 1970), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995). Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000, 2001), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005) all won the event on hard courts.