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Unseeded players pose threats in boys draw

San Salvador, The Bahamas-The boys under-14 draw is more about the players who are not seeded than those who are. This is an incredibly strong group of competitors and the eight who are normally protected by their draws may not find life that easy.

Leading that group of players is Russia’s Karen Khachanov. He just missed being seeded, but, could very well test number one seed Clement Geens of Belgium early in the tournament. Remarkably, he is one of the few players forced to play a first-round match and he will meet South Korean wild card, Chin Yen Tong, in that opener. A win there would put him against Fa Jing Sun of China, after which he is also set to clash with Geens. The top seed has a bye and then takes on Anton Khyzhkin of Ukraine in the next round. Second seed Filippo Baldi of Italy has a decent draw; on paper at least. He has a first-round bye followed by Mexico’s Kevin Carpenter with Spaniard Alberto Barroso Campos, a likely third-round opponent.

Third seed Omar Salman has a bye in the first-round and then takes on the winner of Milan Valkusz of Hungary and British wild card Alexander Sendegeya, another player who was close to being seeded. Fourth seed Stefan Kozlov could find himself in a similar situation. His first match is against Lautaro Pane of Argentina, but, he will then face either wild card Simon Stevens of Belgium or South African Philip Franken. Franken reached the semifinals of this tournament two years ago in Club Med Sandpiper as an Under-12 player and according to the South African coach, he has improved immensely since then. Kozlov is still 13 years old and could find the going a little tough against older players.

Fifth seed Oliver Nagy from the Slovak Republic faces Brazil’s Eduardo Marcondes Neto, sixth seeded Zandrix Acob of the USA meets Serbia’s Ognjen Sunjevaric, seventh seed Borna Coric of Croatia takes on Jamie Malik of Britain while No 8 Maks Tekavec will play Seongchan Hong of Korea.

The girls Under-14 draw seems to have worked out well for the seeded players and unless there are a few”lurkers”in the pack, this could go according to schedule. Top seed in this event is Barbara Haas of Austria and she is due to

meet Italy’s Vera Ploner in her first encounter. Seventh seed, Oceane Dodin of France, is her likely quarter-final opponent with third seeded Ulyna Ayzatulina of Russia, the favored semi-finalist. The Russian will face Lara Vovk in the first round and is on course to play Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, seeded at number six, in the quarters.

Israel’s Valeria Patiuk heads up the seeding in the bottom half of the draw and she is set to meet Ukraine’s Kateryna Baranivska in her opening match. If the draw goes according to schedule eighth seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain is her likely quarter-final opponent. The Spaniard faces Qiuyu Ye of China in her first match.

Seeds number four and number five, Czech Katerina Siniakova and Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, respectively, head for a quarter-final clash. Siniakova has her first match against last year’s Under-12 semifinalist, Bianka Bekefi of Hungary, while Edith Monzon of Argentina is Konjuh’s first opponent.

Players from Spain could well fight out the finish of the boys Under-12 tournament with the country holding both of the top two seedings. At the top of the draw is Eduard Guell Bartrina while wild card Marc Mila Rafi is the number two seed for the event. The players who will attempt to shut out the Spanish dominance include third seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada at number three, Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France at number four, Nathan Ponwith of the USA at number five, Mate Valkusz of Hungary at number six, Jesus Santiago Suarez Rivas of Mexico at number seven and Maksim Tybar of Belarus at number eight.

There are a couple of other obstacles who could stand in the way of the two Spaniards. First up for second seeded Mila Rafi is Alexei Popyrin of the UAE. Popyrin has been taking this tournament seriously and is perfectly primed for a crack at the number two seed. It promises to be a tough encounter and could be one of the best opening matches of the tournament. Guell Bartrina has Francesco Tacconi of Italy as his first opponent and is then seeded to meet Rivas Suarez in the quarters. The other quarter final match ups, if all goes according to plan, will see Blancaneaux play Ponwith in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half Mila Rafi is seeded to meet Tybar and Sigouin is set to face Valkusz.

In many cases the girls Under-12 draws turn out to be a neat package everything goes according to plan. Last year that was not the case and one hopes order will be restored this year.

There are high expectations for top seed Katarina Jokic of Bosnia, who has received a wild card entry into this year’s tournament. She has performed well not only in her own age group but against Under-14 competition as well and that could make her tough to beat here. She has a first-round bye after which she is drawn to play the winner of Si Cao Qi of Chin and Nadine de Villiers of South Africa. In the quarter-finals she is expected to face Theo Gravouil of France, seeded eight, while third seeded Cristina Rovira of the USA is the player seeded to meet her in the semis.

Spain’s Julia Payolo Sucarrats is regarded the player to provide the sternest test to Jokic and after a first-round bye, she is due to play either Sophie Drakeford-Lewis of Britain or Swiss Elisa Elhadj in the second round. Number five Zainab El Houari is seeded to be her quarter-final opponent with either fourth seeded wild card, Kimberley Birrell of Australia, or sixth seeded Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia seeded to meet Payolo Sucarrats in the semis.

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