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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Surprises Few on Spring Nationals' First Day

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Mobile, AL--

With 50 courts (and 10 more under construction) there's more action than anyone can possibly follow during the first round of two 128-draw tournaments. So I'll just recap a few of the matches that caught my attention on a warm and sunny Sunday at the Mobile Tennis Center.

The girls started the schedule at 8 a.m., and I spent the first half hour or so trying to find a competitive match. There were a surprising number of lopsided results (neither No. 1 seed Melanie Oudin or No. 2 seed Claire Bartlett surrendered a game), but the match between No. 6 seed Jacqueline Wu of New Jersey and Jennifer Yen of California wasn't one of them.

With only roving umpires, it was difficult to keep track of the game score, but I do know that Wu faced several set points in the first set which she won 7-6 (4). Wu's game features much more volleying than most girls, and I was impressed when she continued to approach the net and play agressively, even when the set was on the line. In all the first set took over an hour and a half, but the second less than half that, as Wu won it 6-2.

Yen has a one-handed backhand, and I believe it's safe to say that when Aeriel Ellis took the court next to her, it was the first time I had ever seen two adjacent courts with one-handed backhands in girls' junior tennis.

Northern Californian Ellis, who won the 16s Winter Nationals, is unseeded, but she clearly outplayed one of the 17th seeds, Cameron Hubbs of Nebraska in the only upset of the day in girls singles, 6-3, 6-1. The difference was in the winner department. Although many of the games were close (the second time Ellis served the game lasted at least twenty minutes), Ellis was able to hit outright winners with regularity, while Hubbs could only manage to force errors.

The same was true on the boys side, when Wil Spencer, from the nearby Florida panhandle, a 17 seed, took on Ravi Yegya-Raman of New Jersey. Spencer has been playing Futures events since December's Orange Bowl, so his USTA ranking doesn't warrant a higher seed, but many a higher-ranked player looked at the draw to see where Spencer landed. Although Yegya-Raman is a consistently good defender, like Hubbs, he struggled to finish games when he had the opening, and Spencer, using a kick serve very effectively, did not. Serving for the first set at 5-4, Spencer stepped up his game, and played first-strike tennis, taking the game at love. The second set, which I didn't see, went to Spencer 6-2.

I wanted to see Jordan Rux, the No. 2 seed from Texas, play, but by the time I got over to his court, he was just finishing off Haig Schneiderman of New York 6-1, 6-1. So I stayed to watch the end of Alex Domijan's 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marcus Rebersak of Pennsylvania. Domijan, a 17 seed, appears taller than when I last saw him in December, but his game is still clean and simple--big serve, excellent forehand and the ability to finish a point when the opportunity is there. Rebersak stayed with him in most of the points I saw, but most was not enough.

I had meant to look in on the Jared Pinsky-Viju George match, which I thought would be one of day's best, but again, I arrived just at the end, with No. 11 seed Pinsky finishing off the tiebreak for a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win.

The boys lost four more seeds than the girls in the first round, with David Anderson, at No. 14, the highest to fall. Cameron Ahari of Arizona convincingly defeated Massachusetts' Anderson 6-2, 6-2. The other four seeds to lose--Calvin Bennett, Erik Corace, Eduardo Pavia and Connor Roth--were all No. 17 seeds.

I left before the doubles were completed (to spend an hour on the phone with Delta trying to locate our still-missing bags), but with the top eight teams having byes, no big upsets were possible.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.


JOHN said...

Colette, wasn't the weather fantastic today? I live near mobile in the Florida Panhandle and enjoyed the action today. Would have been nice to meet you in person since I am an avid follower of your blog. Not sure how I missed you as I watched the whole Spencer match and some of the ellis match, and by your reporting, sounds like you were right there!

Colette Lewis said...

Our luggage has been found, so anyone who wants to introduce themselves can identify me by my white US Davis Cup cap.

Anonymous said...


Enjoy your writing. I pretty much
read this site everyday.

Is it possible to write some background about these tournaments,
say, among all these tournaments for
18, where this one stands?