©Colette Lewis 2006--
Key Biscayne FL--
Qualifier Brennan Boyajian of Weston, Fla. joins Donald Young as the only Americans remaining in the boys 18s singles at the Orange Bowl, while three U.S. girls advanced to the quarterfinals with straight set wins on Thursday.
Boyajian, who turned 17 in September, made quick work of fellow qualifier Pedro Zerbini of Brazil, needing just over an hour to put a 6-2, 6-2 win in the books.
"I just played really well; kept every ball deep, and converted my chances when I had them," said Boyajian, who won the Easter Bowl, Clay Courts and Kalamazoo in the 16s this year. "I love these courts--they're so slow and the balls get so fluffy and dead by the third game. It helps me a lot."
Boyajian's game doesn't have the raw power of some of his opponents, but he has figured out how to use his other talents to frustrate them.
"After the first four games, he just started trying to hit winners," Boyajian said of Zerbini, a finalist at the ITF Grade 2 in South Carolina last month. "I like when they get impatient, because if I just keep the ball deep, they are going for shots that are low percentage."
Boyajian's next opponent is top seed Nicolas Santos of Brazil, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 decision over Russian Vladimir Zinyakov. The other top half quarterfinal pits U.S. Open Junior finalist Peter Polansky of Canada against Russian Pavel Chekhov. The unseeded Polansky defeated No. 14 seed Rupesh Roy 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.
Young, seeded second, crafted his third consecutive straight-set victory, downing 16-year-old and No. 16 seed Gastao Elias of Portugal 6-3, 6-2. Young faces No. 10 Daniil Arsenov of Russia, who eliminated Mateusz Kecki 6-3, 7-6 (4). The fourth match features No. 9 seed Bassam Beidas of Lebanon against No. 4 seed Petru Alexandru Luncanu of Romania. Beidas earned a 6-4, 6-7(0), 6-1 victory over wild card Wil Spencer, while Luncanu, who has lost only seven games in three matches, continued rolling with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Fernando Romboli of Brazil.
The girls 18s quarterfinals features only one unseeded player, 15-year-old Petra Martic of Croatia, who easily defeated No. 16 seed and 2005 Orange Bowl 16s winner Oksana Kalashnikova 6-1, 6-2. Next up for Martic is Delaware's Madison Brengle, the No. 12 seed, who defeated Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday. No. 4 seed Julia Cohen survived a stiff challenge from fellow American Melanie Oudin, taking the match 6-4, 6-4, and next faces the No. 9 seed Nikola Hofmanova of Austria. Hofmanova upset No. 5 seed and recent Eddie Herr finalist Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea of Romania 7-5, 7-5.
The third American remaining is Reka Zsilinszka, the no. 10 seed, who deflated No. 6 seed Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-1.
"The first set was tough, she was really trying" said Zsilinszka, who has committed to attend Duke next fall. "I was hitting really good passing shots, doing my thing, my serve was on. The second set, she did really not play well. I think I broke her down and she got really frustrated."
With her moonballs, change of pace, slices and defensive lobs, even Zsilinszka's easy wins take time. But she finished in plenty of time to watch the end of match that would decide her opponent, as No. 13 seed Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia and No. 3 seed Sharon Fichman fought through three sets before the Canadian won, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Serving at 4-4 in the third set, Fichman won a long difficult game that featured rain-making moonballs and crisp volleys and everything in between. Exhausted by that effort, Mrdeza crumbled serving at 4-5, double faulting at 15-30 and approaching the net for volleys on the next two points. She won one of them, but netted the second, giving Fichman the victory.
"I don't know how it is to play against me," said Zsilinszka, who was pleased just to have won a round at the Orange Bowl, after falling in the first round or in qualifying in her previous four appearances. "I guess I'll find out tomorrow. Sharon plays a lot like me. You might want to schedule about five hours for that match," she said with a laugh.
The fourth match will feature No. 2 seed Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus and No. 11 seed Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia. Milevskaya had no difficulty with U.S. wild card Mallory Burdette, winning 6-1, 6-1, while Pivovarova ousted No. 7 seed and Eddie Herr champion Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-2. Pivovarova was soundly beaten by Radwanska at the Eddie Herr last week, winning only three games against the Pole, but she made Radwanska's 16th birthday a less than happy one by dominating Thursday's match.
In the 16s, three U.S. girls have reached the semifinals, and only Kristie Ahn of New Jersey did so quickly. The unseeded Ahn took out Brooke Bolender 6-2, 6-2, but Lauren Embree and Allie Will's victories were of the three-set, three-hour variety.
As she had on Wednesday, the unseeded Embree dropped the first set, but turned it around against No. 6 seed Sarah Guzick, taking a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 decision.
Allie Will, who on Wednesday defeated top seed Valeriya Solovieva in straight sets, again was booked for stadium court, but her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Charlotte Rodier of France was a struggle. Playing in the hottest part of an unseasonably warm and windless day, the 15-year-old from Boca Raton gave credit to her coaches for preparing her for such a battle.
"My training at the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute has gotten me into the best shape I can be," said Will the 14th seed. "I couldn't have lasted this long without that. I think it was an advantage to me playing in these conditions, because she doesn't live here, but she did a great job of holding up during the rallies."
Will mentioned her serve and inside-out forehand as keys to taking the first set, but was pleased with all her shots during the three hours she spent on the court.
"Overall, everything today was a positive thing," she said.
While the Ahn-Will semifinal guarantees an American finalist, the other semifinal winner is guaranteed to be unseeded. Embree will meet Cristina Andreea Mitu of Romania, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, and on Thursday defeated No. 5 seed Adeline Goncalves of France 6-1, 6-0.
On of the most compelling matches of the day was in boys 16s singles, when top seed Cesar Ramirez of Mexico met No. 5 seed and Eddie Herr champion Grigor Dimitrov. During the latter stages of the two tiebreak sets, both won by Dimitrov, dozens of fans gathered to watch the very high quality tennis. Dimitrov is the only seeded player to reach the semifinals. He will face unseeded Lorenzo Papasidero of Italy, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Rafael Camilo of Brazil. David Thurner of Germany meets Guido Pella of Argentina for the other berth in the final.
For complete draws, including doubles, see usta.com.
Thursday, December 7, 2006