Americans Young, Damico and Kecki Advance at Wimbledon; Brodsky, Brengle and Zsilinszka Win Wednesday
©Colette Lewis 2007--
The red, white and blue on the 4th of July at Wimbledon was red cheeks, blue lips and white clothing on the coldest Independence Day I've ever experienced. Stocking caps and down jackets were as common as the threat of rain, but the cold and windy conditions gave way to showers only once on Wednesday, finally allowing the junior championships' first round of singles to be completed.
Donald Young, Mateusz Kecki and Kellen Damico were the American boys who ended their four day wait for action with wins. Young, the No. 3 seed, returning to the juniors for the first time since last year's Orange Bowl, had little trouble with British wild card Neil Pauffley in a 6-2, 6-3 win. The eighth seeded Damico, who took the court at 7:30 p.m. London time, finished off Damian Hume of South Africa 6-3, 6-2 in less than an hour. Kecki was the first of the trio to get through, although the only one to have his match disrupted by rain, when he held on for a 6-2, 7-6 (6) win over qualifier Valentin Dimov of Bulgaria.
"I served pretty well all day," said Kecki, who saved himself from the coin-flip of tiebreaker in lieu of the third with some especially clutch serving down 5-6 in the second set tiebreaker. "I couldn't practice much with all the rain the past four days, so it was hard to get any rhythm. I just concentrated on keeping the ball in the court."
Kecki was up a set and 2-1 in the second, on serve, when the rain increased from sporadic sprinkles to a genuine shower. But after the boredom and waiting of the past four days, just hitting a ball in competition was a relief to everyone.
The other three American boys in the singles draw lost, and can point to the ghastly weather, as the Brits would say, as a factor in their defeats. Via the "crapshoot" of a tiebreaker (to use Andy Roddick's description) in place of a third set, both Austin Krajicek and qualifier Ty Trombetta went down. I saw only a few games of Trombetta's match, before I moved to the action on the lower courts, and he was in control against left-hander Tim Van Terheiden of the Netherlands, but ultimately lost 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (6). I scurried over to court 8 in time to see Krajicek take a first set tiebreaker when he aced Great Britain's Daniel Smethurst twice down 5-6 in tiebreaker, and received the set point on a double fault by the wild card entry. Krajicek couldn't hold a break in the second set's first game, however, and was broken again at 3-4 to give Smethurst the chance to put away the second set, which he did in the next game. The tiebreaker seemed to get away from Krajicek, and he trailed 9-5, giving Smethurst four match points, but the Floridian climbed even, and at the change of ends appeared to have the momentum over the shaken Brit. But Krajicek missed a return and a forehand on the next two points to seal his fate.
Johnny Hamui didn't take the court until 8 p.m., and although I saw only the first few points of his match against Romanian Dragos Mirtea, it seemed plenty dark even then. Mirtea won, 6-2, 7-5, and it was nearly 9:30 by the time it was completed.
Madison Brengle, the No. 7 seed, took down British wild card Jade Curtis 6-1, 7-5, finishing a match that was started at Southlands College on Tuesday, and Gail Brodsky also got the better of a British wild card, defeating Tara Moore 6-4, 6-2. Brodsky kept the ball deep and made few errors, while making the occasional foray to the net, where she looked calm and confident.
In another late evening match, this one a second rounder, No. 14 seed Reka Zsilinszka came out smoking against Argentina's Tatiana Bua, taking a 4-0 lead, then held on for dear life in a 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (3) win as darkness descended over the grounds.
Mallory Cecil, who waited through a five-set men's doubles match and a rain delay, lost to Romanian Simona Halep 6-2, 6-1; qualifier Kristy Frilling went quietly against Poland's Katarzyna Piter, 6-0, 6-1. Veronica Li pushed No. 15 seed Bojana Jovanoski of Serbia to the brink in another "night" match, before falling 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (5).
With so many matches played, there were bound to be some upsets, and there were, although a Brazilian losing on grass may not be one of them. No. 4 seed Fernando Romboli of Brazil was defeated by Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-4, 6-3; Martin Klizan, No. 10, lost to qualifier Dimitris Kleftakos of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (7). Danila Arsenov of Russia upset No. 7 seed Stephane Piro of France 6-3, 6-2 and Australian Stephen Donald (13), Czech Roman Jebavy (11) and Chilean Guillermo Rivera (16) also failed to make it out of the first round.
The surprises on the girls side were fewer, with the biggest being Naomi Cavaday, the ninth seed from Great Britain, falling to Oxana Kalashnikova of Georgia 6-3, 6-4, while Misaki Doi of Japan upended No. 12th seed Julia Glushko of Israel 6-7 (1), 6-4, 1-0 (7).
Doubles should begin Thursday, after the second round of singles are completed.