©Colette Lewis 2006
It's usually the bigger the firecracker, the bigger the bang, but in the girls 14s action Tuesday, it was the smallest two players that made the most noise at the Midland Community Tennis Center.
Kyle McPhillips, the USTA's top-ranked 12-and-under girl, is now concentrating on the 14s age division, and was seeded third here, but the Ohioan hasn't lost a set, or even more than four games in any of her matches. In today's quarterfinals, she stumbled briefly at the beginning against 12th seed Kristen Dodge, but then reeled off eight games in a row and ended up with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. To describe her as small doesn't quite capture how young-looking she is, but her opponents are learning not to underestimate the game that emanates from that tiny frame. An hour after dispatching Dodge, McPhillips took the court for her semifinal match and disposed of ninth seed Carolyn Chupa 6-1, 6-3, again putting on a burst at the finish to close out strong.
McPhillips will meet a Midwest section nemesis in Wednesday's final, Monica Turewicz, who may be a few inches taller but probably weighs even less. Turewicz, seeded fourth, took out fifth seed Tina Tehrani 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and then dismantled unseeded giant-killer Lauren Davis, who had defeated top seed Elizabeth Begley in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-0. The 13-year-old lefthander from Illinois knows well the challenge ahead in the final as she and McPhillips met just last week in the semifinals of the Midwest Closed 14s, with McPhillips winning 6-4, 6-2.
The boys singles final will feature top seed and Midwest Closed champion Justin Rossi of Michigan against his doubles partner Nick Chappell of Indiana, the third seed. Chappell had a much tougher struggle in the quarterfinals, where sixth seed Harry Seaborn had him on the ropes, but couldn't land the knockout punch, with Chappell prevailing 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Fortunately for Chappell, the weather was ideal-- with low humidity, temperatures in the upper 70s and a steady breeze-- not the sauna that outdoor tennis can resemble this time of year. Like Turewicz, Chappell faced a semifinal opponent who hadn't had much time to savor a big win in the quarterfinals. Michael Elortegui, the seventh seed, had duelled with second seed Hamish Weerasinghe for over two and a half hours before emerging with a win, and although he twice served for the first set against Chappell, he couldn't close. After dropping the first set in a tiebreak, Elortegui's focus and effort evaporated and Chappell took the second set at love.
Rossi's quarterfinal and semifinal wins were decidedly less dramatic. Fifth seed Michael Zhu was vanquished by a 6-2, 6-4 score in the quarterfinals and fourth seed Bjorn Fratangelo couldn't stay on Rossi's level after the first five game and fell 6-3, 6-1. Rossi's backhand, which is as short and compact as his forehand is long and drawn out, rarely failed him and his skill at keeping a point alive eventually forced his opponents to try for too much.
Although we left the impressive tennis complex before the doubles finals were completed, I can report that Chappell and Rossi, the top seeds, did take the title, 8-5, over Fratangelo and Nikola Kocovic, the fourth seeded team.
The girls' doubles title went to the unseeded team of Nicole Chiricosta and Katie Klyczek, who defeated the top seeds in the semis and the second seeds Begley and Kayla Fujimoto 8-6.