©Colette Lewis 2007--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was packed with junior tennis matches on another dry and sunny day at the U.S. Open, and most of them involved Americans. With 20 girls (19 after Alexa Glatch was forced to withdraw with food poisoning) and 15 boys, there were bound to be both winners and losers; on Sunday the majority won, on Monday they did not. It was the seeded U.S. girls that took the biggest hit, and all of them--No. 3 Madison Brengle, No. 6 Julia Cohen and No. 13 seed Reka Zsilinszka--went out in straight sets.
Brengle, a finalist in the Australian and US Open Junior Championships this year, lost to 17-year-old Australian Jessica Moore 6-4, 6-2, but the result wasn't as surprising as it may seem at first glance. Tennis Australia thought so much of Moore's prospects that she was given their reciprocal wild card into the main draw, where she fell to the No. 20 seed Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-2 last week. I saw very little of the match, but I did talk to Moore afterwards and she felt Brengle, who also was awarded a wildcard in the women's draw, was beatable.
"She had a pretty good draw in the seniors (pros), and I didn't feel she took advantage of it," Moore said of Brengle's 6-4, 6-1 loss to American fashion plate Bethanie Mattek. "I knew if I played my aggressive game, I'd break down her weakness and I'd have a really good chance."
When asked to identify Brengle's weakness, Moore giggled nervously and hesitated a moment before saying, "I felt her forehand would really break down and my game exposes that a lot because I like ripping the ball. I would get her out of the court, and I felt that worked well, because I got short balls every time to put a forehand away."
There were no major upsets on the boys side, but there was very nearly one, as Tennys Sandgren, who earned his wild card by winning the 16s in Kalamazoo, lost by the the slenderest of margins to No. 5 seed Greg Jones of Australia 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). Sandgren had no difficulty trading ground strokes with the 2007 French Open Junior finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, and the much bigger 18-year-old couldn't locate his serve, rendering his volleying skills moot. Sandgren took advantage of every opening Jones gave him, and held his nerve even the precarious positions of serving at 4-5, and 5-6 in the third set. A debatable baseline call by the chair umpire (there were only four officials on the court and it was the chair's decision as to what lines they called) in the third point of the tiebreaker put Sandgren in a 3-0 hole, and although he recovered to bring it to 4-3 Jones, the Australian finally found his serve. On his third match point, he cracked an ace to put an end to Sandgren's upset hopes.
After the drama of that match, I caught the end of qualifier Frank Carleton's much less riveting 6-2, 6-4 win over Harri Heliovaara of Finland. Heliovaara, part of the team that won the Australian Open Junior doubles title this year, has been injured, only recently returning to competition, and the rust in his game showed. The 16-year-old Carleton won nearly every big point and on the biggest one--match point--Heliovaara double faulted.
I made my way over to Court 11, where another qualifier, Dennis Nevolo (irritatingly referred to as NeVELo throughout the match by the chair umpire) had dropped the first set to qualifier Giacomo Miccini of Italy 7-5. Nevolo was up 3-1 in the second set when I arrived, promptly played a loose game to give the break back, and then at 3-3, hitched a ride to what can only be described as The Zone. He broke Miccini with three astonishing winners, and although Miccini held at 3-5, he never had a chance the rest of the match. Nevolo served well, volleyed deep, hit every angle, made every return, and blunted the power of the 15-year-old Bollettieri student. I left when Nevolo was up 5-0, and it was no surprise to me that it ended as a bagel in the third.
Ryan Thacher was the third U.S. winner on the boys' side, taking out qualifier Jared Easton of Australia 6-2, 6-1, making his U.S. Open debut a success. U.S. girls chalking up wins were wildcards Melanie Oudin, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over unseeded Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein and Ashley Weinhold, who defeated No. 9 seed Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Qualifier Kim Couts also won, dispatching Shiho Akita of Japan 6-1, 6-3. Chang was the only non-American seed to lose on the girls side; the boys lost two seeds on Monday--No. 10 Ricardo Urzua-Rivera of Chile and No. 14 Henrique Cunha of Brazil.
Doubles began Monday afternoon, and there were a few surprises. The sixth seeded team of Sung-Hee Han of Korea and Nikola Hofmanova of Austria lost in three sets to the Slovakian team of Kristina Kucova and Klaudia Boczova. The unseeded American team of Adam El Mihdawy and Ryan Harrison upset the fifth seeded Chilean team of Guillermo Rivera Aranguiz and Urzua-Rivera.
U.S. Wildcards Bo Seal and Alex Domijan will play their first round matches on Tuesday morning. For complete draws, see usopen.org.
Monday, September 3, 2007
©Colette Lewis 2007--