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Southern Players Celebrate Impressive US Open Showings

September 8, 2003 04:55 PM

While Men’s Champion Andy Roddick and Women’s semi-finalists Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport were the focus of most American tennis enthusiasts at this year’s US Open, several up and coming Southern players slipped by under the radar at the 2003 event.

On the Junior Boys’ side Nashville, TN’s Brian Baker and Atlanta, GA’s Scoville Jenkins battled through the lousy weather and a difficult draw and lost in the quarterfinals. Cory Ann Avants, from Gastonia, NC, played some of the best tennis of her life en route to the semifinals in the Junior Girls’ competition.

Brian Baker
Baker, 18, from Nashville, was seeded No. 3 in the event and lost to eventual champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga from France, 3-6, 6-7. He is quickly making a name for himself on the professional tour and all signs point to him eventually joining the ranks of other rising American stars like Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri, Taylor Dent and Mardy Fish. Baker is currently the No. 3 junior player in the world and has competed in several USTA / ITF Professional Circuit events this year. He was runner-up at the $15,000 Men’s Future’s event in Little Rock, AR in April, a semifinalist at the $15,000 Elkin Futures event and he reached the quarters at two other professional circuit tournaments.

While a quarterfinal finish at this year’s US Open is a great accomplishment, it was not Bakers’ best Grand Slam finish of the year, as he was runner-up at the 2003 Junior French Open. He also had quarterfinal finishes at the junior Australian Open and Wimbledon.

This past year Baker also won the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Palm Springs. He became the first American to win the boys’ 18s title since Andy Roddick in 1999.

Baker also received a Wild Card into the main draw of the US Open, where he lost in the first round to Jurgen Melzer of Austria in four sets.

It was a bit of a surprise that Scoville Jenkins, 17, advanced as far as the quarterfinals at this year’s Junior US Open. Jenkins, who entered the event unseeded, is currently ranked No. 122 on the ITF Circuit. While the Atlanta native is undeniably a strong player he has not yet achieved the same on-court results as his southern counterpart, Brian Baker.

Before losing to eventual runner-up, and No. 1 seed, Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, Jenkins took out No. 11 seed, Bruno Rosa of Brazil and No. 6 seed, Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain. Scoville battled valiantly against Baghdatis before losing in straight sets, 1-6, 6-7 in the quarters.

Scoville’s quarterfinal finish this year is by far his best junior Grand Slam result, as his only other appearance came in last year’s event where he lost in the round of 32. He does have limited Professional Circuit experience, as he has competed in three events this year, having yet to make it out of the first round.

In 2002, Scoville had three strong finishes on the junior circuit, a semifinal finish at the Chanda Rubin American ITF Jr. Circuit, Evert, a quarterfinal finish at Chanda Rubin Van Der Meer ITF Junior Classic in South Carolina and a runner-up finish at the Chanda Rubin American Junior Tennis Classic in Atlanta.

Cory Ann Avants
Cory Ann Avants
, 18, from Gastonia, NC entered the 2003 Junior US Open an unseeded hopeful. However her impressive result should not be considered surprising as she has been a steady competitor on the USTA / ITF Professional Circuit since 2000.

Avants, whose highest singles ranking was No. 32 in February 2002, has not been very active on the junior circuit as of late, as she has been trying her hand on the professional tour. However, she has competed in each of the four “junior slams,” with her previous best finish coming on the grass at Wimbledon where she lost in the quarterfinals.

While she did not win a professional event in 2003, she does have a pro title to her credit, winning the Raleigh, NC $10,000 Satellite in 2000.

Due to the inclement weather the Junior Doubles competition was cancelled. For more information on the 2003 US Open go to www.usopen.org.




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