©Colette Lewis 2007--
An unprecedented day without rain at the All England Lawn Tennis Club put juniors on every conceivable court, save Centre Court and Court 1, and if I could catch a few games, or more to the point, the "championship tiebreaker" that was deciding nearly every match, I was happy.
Donald Young, the No. 3 seed, started his day with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Indonesia's Christopher Rungkat, but in the quarterfinals the 17-year-old left-hander needed to draw on every bit of his considerable tennis experience to subdue qualifier Dimitris Kleftakos of Germany 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (8). Kleftakos had already claimed one upset of a high profile junior when he took out No. 5 seed Jonathan Eysseric of France 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (9) in his first match, and the tall right-hander showed no signs of being intimidated by the former junior world champion.
Young found himself down 7-4 in the tiebreaker after Kleftakos cracked three straight winners, two off the backhand. But Young picked up his serving, evened it a 8-8 and then got some good fortune. Young's first serve at 8-8, which he thought was good, was ruled out by both the service line judge and the chair umpire, and his second was called out by the service line judge. Had the call stood, it would have had Kleftakos serving at match point, but the chair umpire overruled, and Young got a first serve. Although he missed that, he made his second (in reality, his fourth of the point) and banged a forehand winner to seize the match point and when Kleftakos hit a forehand wide, Young was in the semis.
"I'm telling you, the tiebreak takes years off your life," said Young, who survived one in his second round match on Thursday. "He played well. He was running around his forehand to hit a backhand, and it surprised me. I just tried to stay focused and tell myself that I'm more mentally tough than he is, and I had to just keep plugging away."
The seventh-seeded Brengle also needed to stage a comeback in her quarterfinal match with No. 11 seed Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, but as she did against Cindy Chala of France in her second round victory on Thursday, Brengle played her best when it mattered most--in the tiebreaker--to earn a 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (5) victory.
"In the breaker, I played really, really well," said Brengle, 17. "I played really aggressively and served really well."
Jovanovski threw in several double faults, including on match point, but Brengle credited the maturity in the 15-year-old's game. "She hits the ball pretty big and painted the lines a lot. She's got a good inside out forehand and she really smacked it," Brengle said of the Serb, who had upset No. 2 seed Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia in her first match of the day.
Brengle's semifinal opponent Saturday is one of two girls from Poland in the final four, unseeded Katarzyna Piter of Poland, who surprised No. 3 seed Evgeniya Rodina of Russia in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-1. Piter is the rare junior who has yet to need a championship tiebreak to advance, and with the tournament returning to traditional scoring for Saturday's singles semifinals, she won't face the prospect again.
Urszula Radwanska of Poland, at No. 6, the top seed still remaining in girls' singles, upended her doubles partner, No. 1 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 7-5, 6-1. Pavlyuchenkova was serving for the first set, but the burden of her third match of the day was too much to overcome against Radwanska, whose sister Agnieszka won the Wimbledon girls championships in 2005.
Radwanska's opponent in the semifinals is unseeded wild card Anna Fitzpatrick of Great Britain, who assured herself of a huge home country following Saturday by defeating 13th seed Ksenia Lykina of Russia in a championship tiebreak, then taking out American Gail Brodsky in the quarterfinals 6-2, 7-5. Brodsky had managed to reach the quarterfinals by surviving the horror of seeing seven match points slip away in the championship tiebreaker against Czech Katerina Vankova, then saving one herself before emerging with a 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10) victory.
"When I did realize what was going on, when it was like 9-7, 9-8, I tried to hit a few balls, but it was too late, I was shaking," admitted Brodsky, who was playing with a fever and coughed regularly during her two matches. "I think it was more my body playing at those two points," Brodsky said of the ace and backhand winner she hit for the match's final two points. "If I really thought about the situation I was in, I probably would dropped my racquet and walked off the court."
After that emotional roller coaster, Brodsky couldn't summon her best tennis against Fitzpatrick, and the drain of playing two matches took its toll.
"It was just a shame, because it could of been so much of a better match than it was, because I just couldn't stay in the points," said Brodsky, who though complimenting Fitzpatrick's serve and groundstrokes, added, "I would look forward to playing her again."
The boys' semifinals also will feature an unseeded player, but unlike Fitzpatrick, Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania is widely known in junior tennis circle. The 17-year-old righthander is hoping to avenge his Roland Garros quarterfinal loss to eventual champion and Wimbledon top seed Vlad Ignatic on Saturday, just as he avenged his semifinal loss to eventual Australian Open champion Brydan Klein in Friday's quarterfinal encounter. Like his unseeded counterpart Piter, Berankis has won four matches without needing a championship tiebreak.
Young will face No. 6 seed and French Open finalist Greg Jones of Australia, who has also escaped the drama of a final tiebreaker instead of a third set. Jones lost to Young in the third round of the U.S. Open juniors last year, but his aggressive serve and volley game is well suited to Wimbledon's grass.
The doubles have begun, and there have been surprises in those contests as well, with top seeds Kellen Damico, the defending Wimbledon doubles champion, and French partner Jonathan Eysseric falling via championship tiebreak to the unseeded team of Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic and Martin Klizan of Slovakia in the second round.
There will be an All-American second round contest when Johnny Hamui and Young face Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek. Mateusz Kecki and his partner Danila Arsenov of Russia will face the winner of that match in the quarterfinals.
Brengle and partner Chelsey Gullickson won their first round of doubles, and are the only American girls remaining. They take on the top seeded team of Pavlyuchenkova and Radwanska Saturday afternoon.