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World's top junior tennis players competing in Los Angeles

Top USA junior player Francis Tiafoe
Top USA junior player Francis TiafoeCynthia Lum / USTA

The annual USTA International Spring Championships will showcase some of world’s top juniors in Carson. Beginning Monday, the top-10 world ranked American Tiafoe and Southern California's Smith and Fritz will vie for the top prize in Boys’ 18s at the prestigious ITF Junior sanctioned event.

Some of the world’s top junior tennis players – including six boys and five girls in the International Tennis Federation Top 60 rankings – will converge here next week as the 10th annual USTA International Spring Championships takes place beginning Monday at the StubHub Center.

Sixteen-year-old Francis Tiafoe from College Park, Md., is the player to watch as the current No. 7-ranked player in the ITF world rankings will be top-seeded. Last December, Tiafoe became the youngest Boys' 18s champion in the 67-year history of the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Championships. The win sky rocketed Tiafoe to international acclaim and quickly had tennis writers from all over tabbing him as a future prospect who could one day become the next great American player.

Tournament Director John Lansville stated, “This year’s tournament continues to showcase the best up and coming U.S. Talent and top competitors from all over the world. We look forward to seeing the continued improvement in results for American Players. We are celebrating the events 10th year in Carson and we have had players such as Sloane Stephens, Sam Querrey, Milos Raonic, Jessie Levine, Ryan Harrison, Rhyne Williams, Melanie Oudin, Madison Keys, Nicole Gibbs, Grace Min, Bradley Klahn, Christina McHale, Vania King, Denis Kudla, Victoria Duval, Sachia Vickery and Daniel Kosakowski participate in our event. We look forward to seeing these players have successful careers and seeing the next stars of tomorrow on the ATP & WTA tours.”

Lansville also announced that Courts 4 and 5 will be live-streamed for the first time this year from the tournament website at www.usta.com/isc and that Ken Thomas of Radio Tennis will be audio broadcasting the event from his site www.RadioTennis.com.

Top juniors from Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, and China will be represented in the boys’ 18s ITF Grade 1 event. Naoki Nakagawa (No. 28 ITF rank) of Japan and American’s Alex Rybakov (No. 54) and 2013 finalist Henrik Wiersholm (No. 55) round out the next top three players behind Tiafoe.

Logan Smith (No. 58) of Carlsbad, Calif., is the highest seeded player from Southern California and will be joined in the draw by fellow SoCal player Taylor Fritz (No. 83) of Rancho Santa Fe. Fritz has been winning big matches on the ITF pro Futures circuit, recently making the quarterfinals at the Calabasas Men’s Pro Championships. Fritz is coached by his father Guy, a former ATP player.

Another two to watch include 17-year-old Deiton Baughman of Carson who is also coached by his father Brad Baughman and wild-card Reilly Opelka, 16, who played Tiafoe in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden on World Tennis Day at the start of the month.

Sandra Samir of Egypt will be top-seeded in the Girls’ 18s and also trains at Advantage Tennis in Orange County. The 16-year-old is ranked No. 16 in the ITF junior world rankings and has played the juniors at all four of tennis’ Grand Slam events. She is also 3-0 for the Egyptian Fed Cup team and last year won the 16-and-Under African Junior Championships.

Johnnise Renaud (No. 37) of North Miami, Usue Arconada (No. 49) of College Park, Md., CiCi Bellis (No. 51) of Atherton, Calif., Naiktha Bains (No. 64) of Australia and Michaela Gordon (No. 66) of Los Altos Hills, Calif., are the next top players. San Diego’s Christina Makarova and Pomona’s Gabby Andrews are locals to watch while Emma Higuchi, 16, of Los Angeles who trains at the host site at USTA Training Center-West along with 13-year-old Claire Liu who trains with the USTA and Mike Gennette.

In the girls’ 16s, the top-seeded player will be Alexa Corcoleotes from Northern California. Lansville said to watch for USTA Training Center-West players Kayla Day and Ryan Peus, both of Santa Barbara originally. Also, Jada Robinson trains at Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., and Riley McQuaid of Tustin who is with RAMP Tennis Academy.

On the boys’ side in the 16s, it’s an All-American draw as far as seedings go save for Russian Svyatoslav Shainyan. The top four seeded players are: Evan Zhu, Greenbelt, Md., Zeke Clark, Tulsa, Okla., Sam Riffice, Roseville, Calif., and Nathan Perrone, Mount Laurel, N.J. Expect strong showing from SoCal players Jacob Brumm (Rancho Santa Fe), Connor Hance (Torrance), Alafia Ayeni (San Diego) and Brandon Holt (Rolling Hills), the son of tennis legend Tracy Austin.

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.

Singles qualifying will take place this Saturday and Sunday with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boys’ and girls’ 16s on Saturday, April 5, and boys’ and girls’ 18s on Sunday, April 6.

For more information on the tournament, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.