©Colette Lewis 2006--
Coral Gables, FL--
The weather cooperated long enough on Thursday to allow the Junior Orange Bowl to get back on schedule, and the semifinalists are set for Friday's action at the University of Miami (for boys 12s & 14s and girls 14s) and Salvadore Park (girls 12s).
The U.S. is assured a finalist in both the boys 12s and the girls 14s, but there are no Americans remaining in either the girls 12s or the boys 14s.
John Richmond of South Carolina and Reo Asami of California will meet in one of the boys 12s semifinals, while the second semifinal will feature Eddie Herr semifinalists Johan Skattum of Norway and Edward Nguyen of Canada. Richmond put an end to Florida qualifier Justin Butsch's seven-match winning streak 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 and Asami, who has yet to lose a set in his first five matches, again had no difficulty, taking out No. 1 seed Ivan Levar of Croatia 6-4, 6-1. Of the four remaining players, only Nguyen is seeded.
The girls 14s will find Floridian Sloane Stephens facing New Jersey's Christina McHale for a spot in the final. Stephens outlasted No. 3 seed Nicole Gibbs of Ohio 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, while McHale, like Stephens unseeded, upset No. 2 seed and Eddie Herr finalist Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 1-6; 6-2; 6-3. Eddie Herr champion Hanna Orlik continues to roll through the draw and will meet Chloe Babet of France in the other semifinal.
One of the semis in the girls 12s is a rematch of the Eddie Herr final, with Laura Robson hoping to repeat her victory over her fellow Brit Jessica Ren. Canada's Michelle Dandik and Germany's Christina Shakovets vie for the other place in the finals.
I spent the day as usual at the University of Miami, watching the boys 14s draw get whittled down from 16 to four. Bob Van Overbeek of Florida was the only U.S. boy to reach the quarterfinals, where he fell 6-3, 6-1 to No. 12 seed Bernard Tomic of Australia. Tomic, the 2004 Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion, will meet Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Basilashvili upset No. 3 seed Joao Vitor Fernandes of Brazil in the round of 16, then easily dispatched unseeded Miguel Almeida of Portugal 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The highest seed remaining in the draw is No. 8 David Souto of Venezuela, who had two straight-set victories over seeded players on Thursday. Next up for Souto is unseeded Giacomo Miccini of Italy, who had two equally routine victories, a 6-2, 6-2 win over Alessandro Colella and a 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of Bowen Ouyang of Hong Kong.
Ouyang had battled No. 16 seed Junior Ore for nearly three hours before emerging with a 7-6 (10), 4-6, 6-4 victory over his fellow left-hander, and had no energy to fight a much fresher Miccini.
The rains returned a couple of hours after the last match was completed Thursday, and with three consolation rounds to be played on Friday, if the courts are dry, action will begin at 8 a.m.
For full draws see Tennis Link.
Thursday, December 21, 2006