PARIS – The French Open junior event begins Sunday.
And with the qualification of Peyton Stearns the total US representation in the 64-player girls’ singles draw is … nine.
That includes No. 4 seed Alexa Noel, who is just 15 and No. 16 seed Cori Gauff, who turned 14 in March.
They are among the younger players in a draw that also includes seven Russians.
All but two of them came through the qualifying; in fact, five of the eight qualifiers are from that country.
With nine players, the U.S. had just one fewer than home-team France, which has 10 players. But seven of those are wild cards. One is a qualifier.
The remaining two are 15-year-old Diane Parry, who impressed in the women’s qualifying when she upset No. 5 seed Jana Fett and 17-year-old Clara Burel, who reached the Australian Open junior girls’ singles final this year and is the No. 13 seed.
That, in fact, was the last junior event Burel played. She has actually played very little since, returning to the court in March for a series of five entry-level Futures in Tunisia, followed by a couple of larger tournaments at home in France.
Korda leads the boys
On the boys’ side, No. 2 seed and Australian Open junior boys’ champion Sebastian Korda leads the American contingent, which is eight-strong.
Two others are seeded (No. 11 Tristan Boyer and No. 16 Drew Baird). There is one wild card (Cannon Kingsley), one qualifier (Tyler Zink) and one special exempt.
Brandon Nakashima, a 16-year-old from San Diego, reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinals of a tuneup event in Charleroi, Belgium this week and so couldn’t make it in time to play the qualifying.
One to watch is 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker of Germany. His junior ranking (as high as No. 10 last summer) stands at No. 20.
But his ATP Tour ranking is No. 301, After playing at the Futures level during the year, he received a wild card into the Heilbronn Challenger in Germany … and won the title. Four of his five matches were three-setters, and three of those were comebacks after losing the first set.
Molleker defeated Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in the final.