Well then. This week sees the first of two consecutive ITF Grade 4 competitions taking place in Nottingham, and now that qualifying is over and the main draw has been revealed, it’s time to preview the competition, using Universal Tennis Ratings to predict who might end up being the quarter-finalists this week.
A whopping 42 out of 64 entrants into the Boys’ main draw are British, with seven youngsters having qualified, eight having received wildcards, eleven being seeded, one gaining a lucky loser slot, and the rest entering directly.
According to the Universal Tennis Rating, the top quarter of the Boys’ draw should go by seeding. Top seed Jake Hersey holds the highest UTR in the section at 12.58, with fifth seed Ewen Lumsden a close second with 12.57. The pair should meet in the quarters if everything goes to plan, although there are a couple of players to watch out for: Hersey could meet unseeded Italian Federico Rebecchini in the second round, and with a UTR of 12.42, he holds the third-highest UTR in the section and could well be dangerous. Egyptian Samy Grace could also cause problems in a tough top eighth for Hersey, while Lumsden’s first round clash with lucky loser Michael Shaw could be his most problematic until he reaches a quarter-final showdown with Hersey.
Predicted Quarter-Final:  Jake Hersey vs  Ewen Lumsden
This quarter should throw up a few surprises. Fourth seed Louis Newman, UTR 12.33, has been given one of the toughest draws possible in the first round against France’s Marceau Courtalon, UTR 12.71. Home advantage could be crucial in that clash, but with Newman’s form nothing special of late, he could find himself heading for an early exit. Further down, 14-year-olds Jack Draper, seeded eighth and with a UTR of 12.51, and Anton Matusevich, UTR 12.85 could be set for another clash in the third round, having played each other in Oslo in March. Draper won that one and went on to win the title, but I fancy Matusevich to get his revenge here. With the pair far stronger than the rest of the players around them, the winner of that clash is likely to face a humdinger of a match against the aforementioned Frenchman.
Predicted Quarter-Final: Marceau Courtalon [FRA] vs Anton Matusevich
With the third quarter being one of the tightest, it’s difficult to predict who will come through the mire. Italian Andrea Trapani, with a UTR of 12.43, has the highest UTR in the top half of the quarter, but a potential second round clash with British seventh seed Adam Jones (UTR 12.27) could be problematic, while Dutchman Lodewijk Weststrate (UTR 12.32) may well be in with a shout. The second quarter-finalist from this section could be any of Daniel Bennett (UTR 12.69), Dominic West (UTR 12.89) or third seed Damian Rodriguez (UTR 12.42). Rodriguez has the recent ITF experience, including a Grade 4 title and two semi-finals in Doha recently, while Bennett has barely been in action at all this year and West, having claimed some excellent results last year (including wins against Hersey and Rodriguez in London last July), has the highest UTR of anyone in the competition, but hasn’t played any ITFs or even national events in 2016. It’s a tough call, and I’m going against the UTR this time around.
Predicted Quarter-Final: Andrea Trapani [ITA] vs  Damian Rodriguez
Like the first quarter, it’s likely that this final quarter will go by seeding, with sixth seed Ryan Nijboer of the Netherlands (UTR 12.64) and second seed Aidan McHugh (UTR 12.83) some distance ahead of everyone else, according to the Universal Tennis Rating. However, there are a couple of players who could give them a run for their money, including ninth seed Alexander Carlos Parker (UTR 12.47), who will probably get the closest. He’s set to play Bijboer in the third round, with the winner likely facing McHugh, unless the second seed slips up against George Loffhagen (UTR 12.13) or Italian Guido Marson (UTR 12.22)
Predicted Quarter-Final:  Ryan Nijboer [NED] vs  Aidan McHugh
Based purely on the Universal Tennis Ratings, the final should be a clash between Anton Matusevich and Aidan McHugh (providing, as predicted, Dominic West fails to make the quarter-finals). But it’s rarely as simple as that. While UTRs are accurate, marginal differences do not take into account home advantage, momentum, and how a player feels on a specific day, so it may not happen that way. The way the draw is stacked, though, means, according to our predictions, the quarter-finals are likely to be closer than the semis, with 12.58 playing 12.57 in the first, 12.71 playing 12.85 in the second, 12.43 playing 12.42 in the third and 12.64 playing 12.83 in the fourth, meaning the winners of the second and fourth quarter-finals will probably meet in the final. As for separating McHugh (12.83) and Matusevich (12.85) if they both reach the final… Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Predicted Winner:  Aidan McHugh
The top eight players in the draw according to their Universal Tennis Ratings.
In the 64-strong draw, there are 35 British Girls, with six seeded entries, eight wildcards, two lucky losers, five qualifiers, and the rest direct entrants.
There are only eight Girls in the entire draw with a Universal Tennis Rating of over 10.00, and three of them are in the top eighth of the draw, with two of them playing in the first round. Top seed Nell Miller, with a rating of 10.41, has easily the highest UTR in the entire competition, but how she fares in the early rounds could be crucial, as she faces France’s Anna Jovanovic (UTR 10.18, the equal second-highest UTR in the competition) in the first round, before a likely third round clash with thirteenth seed Svenja Ochsner of Switzerland (UTR 10.18 – yes, you guessed it, the equal second-highest UTR in the competition.) If Nell makes it through those two early crunch matches, the title should be heading her way, although much will depend on time spent on court, as both clashes could well go to three long sets. Miller’s most likely quarter-final opponent will be 11th seed Victoria Kalaitzis of Belgium (UTR 9.86), although Hannah McColgan (UTR 9.81) could give her a run for her money if they meet in the second round.
Predicted Quarter-Final:  Nell Miller vs  Victoria Kalaitzis [BEL]
We could be seeing a flashback to an early-season AEGON British Tour clash in the second quarter-final, with Ellie-Rose Griffiths (UTR 10.13) and 14th seed Anna Loughlan (UTR 10.01) favourites to come through. Loughlan’s nearest challenger is the third seed from France, Sophie Muntean, with a UTR of 9.66, but her easy first couple of matches should set her up nicely to make the quarters. Griffiths is playing in her first ITF for almost 9 months, but has kept her form up at British Tour events and it may well play to her advantage, with only 12th seed Sophia Derivan of Ireland (UTR 9.53) and fifth seed Nika Zupanic of Slovenia (UTR 9.77) set to give her any trouble.
Predicted Quarter-Final:  Anna Loughlan vs Ellie-Rose Griffiths
We should see a British wildcard in the quarter-finals in the third quarter, with Sonay Kartal (UTR 10.07) the strongest player on paper in her section of the draw. Her toughest match is likely to be her first against fellow Brit and 15th seed Maria Budin (UTR 9.50), but if she’s gets through that, her UTR predicts a breeze through to the quarters. She’ll likely face Czech Kristyna Lavickova, the only other player in the section with a 10+ UTR at 10.13. French ninth seed Clara Burel (UTR 9.97) and British sixth seed Camille Verden Anderson (UTR 9.57) could provide some sterner tests along the way, though.
Predicted Quarter-Final: Kristyna Lavickova [CZE] vs [WC] Sonay Kartal
As the only player in her quarter with a 10+ UTR, second seed Esther Adeshina looks to be heading smoothly into at least the quarter-finals, if not further. Her UTR of 10.05 means she shouldn’t be troubled too much before the quarter-finals, where she’ll probably face French 10th seed Giulia Morlet (UTR 9.95), in a clash which could very much go either way. Swede Alexandra Almborg or even young Brit Olivia Peet (UTR 9.41) might make some inroads, but both would need to be at their best to touch Adeshina and Morlet.
Predicted Quarter-Final:  Giulia Morlet [FRA] vs  Esther Adeshina
I’d be very interested to see the result of a potential Ellie-Rose Griffiths and Nell Miller semi-final – something which could well happen, given the UTRs and the way the draw falls. Nell Miller, given the form she’s in, should be a shoo-in for the semis once she passed her early tests, while Griffiths’ recent British Tour form has be hugely encouraging. In the bottom half, it ought to be Adeshina from a very weak quarter, but I’d say the Czech girl, Lavickova, has an excellent chance against her if they both make the semis. I’d still back Miller in the final over anyone else in the draw, though.
Predicted Winner:  Nell Miller
The top eight players in the draw according to their Universal Tennis Ratings.