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Thursday, April 6, 2006

Weather Improves But Upsets Continue at International Spring Championships

©Colette Lewis 2006
Carson CA--
A cool clear day with barely a hint of a breeze made for much improved playing conditions at the Home Depot Center for Thursday's second round matches.

Four seeds on the boys side were eliminated: Dennis Lajola (4), Chris Racz (7), Johnny Hamui (8) and Mateusz Kecki (13). Gastao Elias of Portugal, a semifinalist at the recently completed Luxilon Cup, defeated Lajola 7-5, 6-1, while Drew Daniel battled back to down Kecki 1-6, 7-6, 6-0. Bozhidar Katsarov, a finalist in the 16s division last year, upset Hamui 6-2, 6-4 and local Mike Gurman of Los Angeles took out Racz 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Another Southern Californian reaching the round of 16 is wild card Ryan Thacher, the National Winters 16s singles and doubles champion. Thacher,16, from Studio City California, had his hands full today with fourteen-year-old Chase Buchanan, an upset winner over 16th seed Tyler Hochwalt on Wednesday. The highly anticipated match was scheduled for the marquee court four, right outside the player lounge, and none of the many spectators were disappointed when the first set ended in a tiebreak.

Thacher, a lefthander who has only recently begun focusing his athletic talents on tennis, fell behind 5-0 in the tiebreak, but won five of the next six points before Buchanan executed a deftly spun volley that Thacher could not quite reach to take the set. But Thacher wasn't discouraged.

"I saw we could have a very competitive match, so I made sure I made him play. I was more consistent and got in more," said Thacher, who took the second and third sets by identical 6-2 scores.

"I had seen him play and played doubles against him at the Winters, so I knew how good a player he is," Thacher said.

Buchanan was not unhappy with his strategy, just his execution. "I was getting the shots I wanted, I just wasn't able to finish them," he said.

Top seeds Pavel Chekhov and Kellen Damico advanced in straight sets as did third seed Jamie Hunt.

In girls action on Thursday, there were only two upsets, wild card Jamie Hampton's 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over 14th seed Ellah Nze and McCall Jones' 6-2, 6-2 victory over 12th seed Jennifer Stevens. First round giantkillers Reka Zsilinszka and Stefanie Nunic continued their runs, Zsilinszka topping Christina Liles 6-0, 6-2 and Nunic taking out Brittany Augustine 6-3, 6-1. Third seed Chelsey Gullickson also advanced in straight sets.

There were a couple of major surprises in the boys 16 division as top seed JT Sundling was dismissed by fellow Thousand Oaks resident Dennis Lin, the 16th seed, 6-4, 7-5 and second seed Patrick Whitner fell to unseeded Alex Johnson 6-2, 6-2.

Friday's schedule will be crammed, with both Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches played in Boys and Girls 18s and Girls 16s as well as doubles matches. With the improved weather doubles have returned to traditional scoring.

For complete draws, see usta.com.


Anonymous said...

Collette, the posting indicates that Ryan Thacher plays other sports and only recently started concentrating on tennis. What other sports does he play and how good and serious was he in those sports? If this is true, it seems to bode well for his long term potential because it indicates that he's an excellent all-around athlete that should continue to improve as he concentrates on tennis. This is a scary concept for a guy that already won a gold ball in singles when he wasn't that focussed on tennis.