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Monday, November 27, 2006

Bollettieri Girls Upend Seeds in First Round of 18s Singles

©Colette Lewis 2006--
Bradenton, FL--

Monday brought a little bit of everything to the Eddie Herr, including a brief late afternoon rain shower that disrupted the first round of boys 14s singles and 12s mixed doubles (yes, they play mixed doubles here too).

With the boys 16s and 18s not starting until Tuesday, there were a lot of mens' college coaches here with nothing to watch, but the womens' coaches had nearly a full slate of girls 18s to study.

Bollettieri students pulled off two upsets, but with their past Eddie Herr performances, it wasn't exactly surprising. Fourteen-year-old Tamaryn Hendler of Belgium, last year's 14s winner, stepped up to the 18s this year and made an impressive debut, defeating fifth seed Dominice Ripoli 6-2, 6-3. Cheered on by many of her fellow Bollettieri students, Hendler didn't have any trouble trading groundstrokes with the German.

An even younger Bollettieri prodigy, 13-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, who won the 16s at the Eddie Herr last year, also easily downed a seed, pounding seventh seed Reka Zsilinszka of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2. Despite a baffling first game of the second set, when she double faulted the game away, Larcher de Brito, a wild card, didn't give Zsilinszka an opportunity to play her patented defense, dominating with her flat, heavy groundstrokes.

One of the day's best matches was between third seed and U.S. Open Junior semifinalist Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic and Mallory Cecil of the U.S. Cecil, also a Bollettieri wild card, ran out to a big first set advantage, then managed to hold off the charge of the 16-year-old left-hander to win the first set tiebreak, but couldn't sustain her excellent play, falling 6-7, (3) 6-2, 6-3. Cecil had support from Bollettieri coaches and players, but Vankova had fellow Czechs Nicole Vaidisova and Petr Korda as spectators during the lengthy match.

I also caught a bit of the U.S.'s Melanie Oudin, who defeated Irina-Alexandra Parschiv of Romania 6-4, 6-2. In the games I saw, the 15-year-old from Marietta, Ga. was able to hit a winner when she got a weak shot from her opponent, but could also play defense, a potent combination. Hendler will be her next opponent.

Other U.S. girls advancing were Madison Brengle, the No. 9 seed, Kim Couts, the No. 13 seed, qualifier Nina Pantic, and wild cards Maria Mokh and Mallory Burdette. Top seed Julia Cohen of the U.S. plays Tuesday, as does wild card Morgan Frank.

The 12s played their third round matches Monday, and there were not nearly as many love and love scores as there had been in the previous two days.

I had my first opportunity to see Californian Joseph DiGiulio, one of the 16 seeds (all 16 are designated No. 1s in the 12s). I had heard a coach marvel at his poise and technique, and I was also impressed by both. Even though DiGiulio's opponent was much bigger than he was, he controlled the match with his consistency and variety. I was happy to see many of the boys in the 12s approaching the net, hitting different kinds of shots and taking risks. I pray they keep developing in that direction.

The girls 12s didn't have that same commitment to moving forward in the matches I observed today. But I can't say I've seen more than a few games of any girls 12s match, so I may see it yet, now that we're in the round of 16.

There were errors in the original 18s draws posted, and they have been redone. Please see eddieherr.com for corrected draws.


Mark Gardner said...

How come Bollettieri kids, especially girls, pretty much constantly whoop up on their more traditional USTA system counterparts? And not even in their own age groups!. Most of the time, two age groups higher! What are they doing at his academy? Is it completely locked up and isolated from the outside world that nobody knows how they are training these kids? Or are they just recruiting superior athletes?

Anonymous said...

Big time recruiting and its all for free. The facts are the American kids pay to act as fodder for the foreign recruits.

Anonymous said...

Seems like in younger divisions a lot of top US players are missing, perhaps the need to attend school is a big factor

Stringman said...

True, true, if you are not getting a scolarship to Bollettieri's, you should not be attending.