Leach, Penickova go back-to-back in Malaysia

UNITED States future star Jagger Leach has strung together back-to-back titles the past fortnight to make it 10 consecutive wins in Malaysia. Leach, the son of Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, won titles in Sarawak and Kuala Lumpa winning 19 of his last 20 sets en route to J300 and J200 trophies.

Leach’s most recent title in Kuala Lumpa was a dominant display, coming in as the second seed and blitzing the field. The American dropped no more than seven games in any of the matches, and then upstaged South Korean top seed Jangjun Kim.

Leach won 6-2 6-4 in the final to take home his fourth trophy this year, and second successive one in the past fortnight. The American’s best win came in the semi-finals of the Sarawak J300 tournament, toppling talented Australian Hayden Jones in three sets, 7-6 5-7 7-5.

The American, who was already up to a career-high 33rd in the world following his Sarawak title win, rose another 10 spots into 23rd. The 2007-born talent has played a heavy schedule of 34 tournaments the last 12 months, but it has paid off, and now he is only 22 points off the Top 20 and 307 points off the 10th ranked Jones.

Leach is now the fourth ranked American junior boy, with Darwin Blanch still leading the way, having recently played at the Madrid Masters, where as a wildcard ran into Rafael Nadal and won one game, going down 6-1 6-0.

In the girls’ singles it was an identical story as top seeded Kristina Penickova triumphed in straight sets, 6-3 6-3 in the final, not dropping a set all tournament. The 14-year-old lived up to her top seeded billing with her performance, having come off a title at Kuching as well. Top-seeded there, she crushed her opponents, dropping no more than four games in a match.

She has now won 12 straight matches – winning two singles for the United States at the Billie Jean King Cup Junior qualifying rounds – and 16 of her past 17 matches, also reaching a final in the American Regional Championships in San Diego back in March.

Penickova is now up to 25th in the world, with the 2009-born young gun one of five Americans in the top 30. She is th second highest ranked player from her birth year behind Great Britain’s Hannah Klugman.

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