DELRAY BEACH, Fla., July 9, 2022 (USTA Press Release by Steve Dorsey)
The USTA Junior Boys National Clay Court Championships have served as a steppingstone to college scholarships and professional success for a lengthy and impressive list of American players over the past 54 years, including one of the all-time greatest in Hall of Famer John McEnroe, who claimed the Boys 18s title in 1976, a year after winning the 16s title.
Current ATP Tour American stars Taylor Fritz, Jenson Brooksby and 2016 Boys 18 champion Sebastian Korda also honed their games while competing in the National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach. Fritz, the top-ranked American in the world, this week gave Rafael Nadal – the all-time leader with 22 Grand Slam titles including 14 French Open titles on the clay at Roland Garros – all the Spaniard could handle before falling in an epic five-setter at Wimbledon.
Brooksby, the 21-year-old Californian who has climbed the ATP Tour ladder to No. 34 in the world rankings, made it to the 3rd round at Wimbledon this month. Korda, a finalist at the 2021 Delray Beach Open who is ranked No. 46 in the world, reached the quarterfinals last year in his debut at the All-England Club but had to pull out this year because of injury. Other notable Americans who played in the National Clay Court Championships as teenagers include Tommy Paul, who recently reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon, as did Frances Tiafoe, who was a champion in Delray Beach at the ATP Tour level at the 2018 Delray Beach Open. Paul was the 2013 National Clay Court champion in 16s and took the 18 title in 2014, defeating Reilly Opelka in the final of both events.
So who among today’s elite American Junior players might follow in the footsteps of Fritz, Brooksby, Korda, Paul and Tiafoe? We could be given some clues next week during the 2022 Boys 18 and 16 National Clay Court Championships in Palm Beach County. More than 450 of the nation’s elite young players will descend on Delray Beach and surrounding communities for the week-long tournament July 10-17. The singles and doubles quarterfinals, semifinals and finals in both age groups will culminate July 15-17 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, site of the ATP Tour’s Delray Beach Open. Both finalists in the 18s singles competition will earn entry into the DBO’s pre-qualifying Survivor Series event while the champion will also receive a 2022 US Open Juniors Main Draw Singles Wild Card.
Lucas Brown of Plano, Texas, the USTA No. 2-ranked player, will be the top seed in the Boys 18 singles draw. Brown, who has made a verbal commitment to the University of Texas, arrives here with a 52-19 overall record. Jelani Sarr, another rising high school senior from Pooler, Ga., who is committed to the University of South Carolina, will be the No. 2 seed and is No. 6 in the USTA national rankings.
The Boys 16 singles top seed is Andrew Ena of Rego Park, N.Y. He’s ranked No. 2 nationally by the USTA. Ian Bracks of Tulsa, Okla., is the No. 2 seed and ranked No. 4 nationally. The No. 4 seed in the Boys 16 draw is No. 8-ranked Asor Ismoilov of Delray Beach, who should have a strong local contingent cheering him on in his quest to claim the singles title in that age group. Another local entry from Delray Beach is Alex Ekstrand, who will compete in the Boys 18 singles.
Both Boys singles draws each will have 224 players competing in front of family and friends from as far away as California and Hawaii. Ivan Baron, tournament director and former USTA Gold Ball champion at USTA National Hardcourt Championships, said more than 100 college coaches are expected to attend the event that will be contested the first five days at five different venues, including the Delray Beach Tennis Center, which has 14 clay courts. The other venues are One Tennis Academy at Boca Lago, Boca West Country Club, Boca Raton Racquet Club and Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center in northern Palm Beach County. Admission is free to all matches all week.
“The atmosphere is electric all week. And it’s a great chance for fans see some incredibly impressive tennis before you have to start buying tickets in just a couple years to see these guys play,” Baron said.
BMW, the official automobile of the USTA National Clay Court Championships, will feature a 2022 M3 and M4 edition vehicle on-site at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and South Florida BMW Centers will be presenting the daily Boys 16s Player of the Day. Next to the display cars, fans can enter a contest to win four box seat tickets to one session of the 2023 Delray Beach Open.
Baptist Health will be participating as the official Healthcare Partner for the tournament for the second consecutive year. As the largest not-for-profit healthcare organization in South Florida, Baptist Health will provide medical services and support for the players all week and Baptist Health Orthopedic Care will be presenting the daily Boys 18s Player of the Day.
“As leaders in healthcare and sports medicine, we are incredibly excited to partner with the USTA Clay Court National Championships again,” said Reggie Laroche, Assistant VP at Baptist Health. “By joining this prestigious event, Baptist Health will not only support top-ranked elite tennis athletes in USTA Clay Court National Championships and the Delray Beach Open, but also the Delray Beach community at large, creating a safe, entertaining and memorable week for all.”