by Michael Augsberger
Stream it live at teenworldopen.com.
This is a tournament the first of its kind: Giving scholarships to top ITF players in Africa, Europe, and South America who demonstrate financial need in order to level the playing field. The Teen World Open 2022 presented by Siranli Dental kicks off Monday morning in Naples, FL.
Here's the rundown and the players to watch:
It truly is the World Cup for Teen Tennis. No longer do players travel the globe to play one match and go home with no ranking points or run into the buzzsaw top seed. Sixteen players will have three group stage matches, with a thrilling simultaneous third group match to determine who makes the quarterfinals.
Seven players are on scholarship from Africa, Europe, and South America. Nine other top players populate the draw from Korea Republic and the United States.
Simon Myslivec - Czech Republic
Ramy El Shoubaki - Morocco
Graham Bourne - United States
Aryan Bonigala - United States
Simon Myslivec, from the Czech Republic, has increased his rating with fine results lately. The overall top seed goes up against the other scholarship player in the group, Ramy El Shoubaki (MAR), who just missed out on being seeded in the tournament as well. So it could be the group of death if you look at it that way.
Bourne and Bonigala come from Florida and look to shake up the expected outcomes and could well do---Bourne only trails the Moroccan by half a ranking point and is playing on home soil.
The top guns meet each other first thing in what will surely be the broadcast special on Court 2, though Roothman v Ayaaba also takes place at the adjacent court for further fireworks. El Shoubaki v Bourne may well determine one of the advancing spots, though, and it's scheduled for the glorious simultaneous-kickoff slot on Tuesday, 9 am. Both players should know they need to win to go through by then.
Jack Ling - United States
Noah Kohn - United States
Jose Andrade - Ecuador
Woo Hyeon Jung - Korea Republic
Ling is the top-seeded American at the tournament after Davide Procacci pulled out with a 102-degree fever on Sunday. That gives him control of a group instead of playing from under another top seed and should bode well for him. In theory.
Ecuador's Andrade is the next favorite to advance or to upset the American. The popcorn match between them takes place at 1:30 pm on Monday, likely to be the streaming choice on Court 2 in that window. However, Andrade v Kohn may have more ramifications for the group.
Rushil Khosla - India (top of page)
Gianluca Galasso - United States
Heyang Li - United States
Nsahno Ndonfack - Cameroon
Managing to pencil in the tournament on his way home from Cuba, Khosla is the strongest player in the group, fresh off a month of intense training in Havana. But the question mark is his fitness---arm trouble in the last week will rear its head, and his tolerance will determine how far he can go in the group stage.
So while the two scholarship players are favored, this may end up being the most open group from which the Academy players and visitors might break into the quarters.
In an incredible coincidence, Li and Jack Ling, both from the Princeton, NJ area, were training at Emilio Sanchez Academy at the same time as the tournament, with the latter helping convince the former to enter just at the deadline. Whether the groupmates will welcome the talent of the newcomer or resent it will depend on the results.
He and Ndonfack are more or less evenly matched, and while Li has traveled with his family, the Cameroonian has the advice of his coach, Lionel Nouck, a rarity for the scholarship players.
Don't count out Galasso, either, who trains at the Academy and could have a lot to say here.
Wian Roothman - South Africa
Desmond Ayaaba - Ghana
William Freshwater - United States
Michael Gurgenidze - United States
Here the Americans have their hands full with these top ITF juniors. Roothman, having traveled with his father and brother and taken in the sights in Orlando, is all business now as South Africa's third-ranked junior. "But the federation doesn't offer anything for even the best juniors to travel or play tournaments," he says.
He'll meet Ayaaba in the opener that should make for fireworks alongside the Myslevic-El Shoubaki duel in Group A.
Freshwater has a real chance at Ayaaba (Tuesday, 9 am) if he takes care of business in the opener against Gurgenidze. That one match could spell the difference in this group.
Schedule of Play - Monday, Dec 19
Court 2 (TV): Simon Myslivec CZE 11.93 v Ramy El Shoubaki MAR 10.19
Court 3: Wian Roothman RSA 11.8 v Desmond Ayaaba GHA 10.01
Court 4: Jack Ling USA 10.61 v Noah Kohn USA 9.12
Court 5: Jose Andrade ECU 9.85 v Woo Hyeon Jung KOR 8.27
Court 6: Heyang Li USA 9.27 v Nsahno Ndonfack CMR 9.75
Court 8: William Freshwater 9.5 v Michael Gurgenidze USA 8.6
Court 14: Rushil Khosla IND 11.67 v Gianluca Galasso USA 8.8
Court 16: Graham Bourne USA 9.47 v Aryan Bonigala USA 8.11
Court TBD: Jonas Bauer USA v Maximilian Neumann USA
Court 2 (TV): Jack Ling USA 10.61 v Jose Andrade ECU 9.85 Court 3: Nsahno Ndonfack CMR 9.75 v Gianluca Galasso USA 8.8 Court 4: Rushil Khosla IND 11.67 v Heyang Li USA 9.27 Court 5: Noah Kohn 9.12 USA v Woo Hyeon Jung KOR 8.27 Court 6: Simon Myslevic CZE 11.93 v Graham Bourne USA 9.47 Court 8: Desmond Ayaaba GHA 10.01 v Michael Gurgenidze USA 8.6 Court 14: Wian Roothman RSA 11.8 v William Freshwater USA 9.5 Court 16: Ramy El Shoubaki MAR 10.19 v Aryan Bonigala USA 8.11