San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Youth tennis stars competing in Costa Rica this week

The world’s top youth players are in Costa Rica this week competing in the Copa del Café. The tournament, which began Monday at the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú, west of San José, features a total of 146 young stars from 51 countries. The 47th edition of the week-long tournament will crown the champions Saturday night.

In the first day of the competition, most of the favorites lived up to their rankings as the top seeds on both sides advanced to Tuesday’s second round.

On the girls’ side, returning champion An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium opened her title defense Tuesday against Yana Sizikova of Russia. Mestach won the singles and doubles titles at the Copa del Café in 2010.

Only one of the top 16-seeded players on the girls’ side failed to advance to Tuesday’s second round, fifth-seeded Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands, who shared the doubles title with Mestach last year.

The lone Costa Rican to advance to the second round is José Pablo Gil, who beat Luke Jacob Gamble of the U.S. in straight sets on Monday. Gil faced 13th-seeded Wilfredo Gonzalez of Guatemala on Tuesday. Should Gil and top-seeded Dellien win on Tuesday, they would face off Wednesday in the third round.

The Copa del Café has a storied tradition of hosting young talents that go on to be big-time professional stars. The tournament touts an impressive list of alumni, including tennis greats Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, 2009 U.S. Open winner Juan Martín del Potro and current giant Roger Federer. On the women’s side, stars such as Amanda Coetzer and Jana Novotna competed in the Copa del Café before moving on to successful professional careers.

The cost of admission to the Copa del Café ranges from 4,000-7,500 colones depending on seating. The semifinal and final rounds will be held Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.copacafe.com.

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