Friday, November 30, 2007

Domijan, Oudin Reach 18s Semifinals; Dimitrov Upsets Ignatic

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Bradenton, FL

In the 16-ring circus that comprises the Eddie Herr on the second Friday, it wasn't possible to view more than a fraction of the matches being played. I stuck to the 12s finals (see below), but one of the intriguing matches of the day, No. 1 seed Vlad Ignatic versus No. 12 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the boys' 18s, wasn't far away, and the large crowd that gathered at court 15 provided auditory clues to the action.

The 16-year-old from Bulgaria set off some fireworks when up 6-3, 5-4, he failed to convert on his two match points, the first of which was a ball that hit Ignatic's clothing and changed directions, landing out. The chair umpire did not see it touch Ignatic and didn't award Dimitrov the point (and therefore the match), and three points later the set was 5-5. Three or four violent smashes of his racquet later, Dimitrov eventually settled down long enough to get into a tiebreaker, but despite a 5-2 lead, he made several careless errors and Ignatic, the French Open junior champion and world's top-ranked junior, took the next five points to even the match.

I didn't have an opportunity to watch the third set, but I was told that Dimitrov came up with some inspired tennis near the end of the match, and he came away with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 victory over his doubles partner.

That win sets up a rematch of the 2005 Eddie Herr boys 14s title match, when Dimitrov defeated Alex Domijan of the U.S.

The 16-year-old Domijan, a qualifier, put an end to the run of 15-year-old wild card Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-4 on "Nick's Court," although it is tempting to rename it Filip's Court, since all four of his matches were played there, usually under the watchful eye of Bollettieri himself.

Domijan is not the only qualifier streaking though the draw; Mirza Basic of Bosnia is also still alive after a 6-4, 6-3 win over unseeded Matt Reid of Australia. No. 9 seed Gastao Elias of Portugal, a 6-2, 6-0 winner over wild card Chase Buchanan, is the highest seed remaining in the boys' 18s draw.

With No. 2 seeded Russian Ksenia Pervak's three-set loss to No. 8 Simona Halep of Romania, No. 5 seed Melanie Oudin of the U.S. is the top seed remaining in the girls' 18s.

Oudin came back against unseeded Californian Julia Boserup to record a 4-6, 6-1, 4-0 ret. victory. There was only one break in the first set; the casual observers wandering from court to court were in awe of the power of both girls. Once she had dropped the first set, Oudin's focus improved, and she eliminated unforced errors from her game, while Boserup's shots began to stray more often. With Oudin leading 2-0 in the final set and Boserup serving at 15-30, Oudin hit a shot behind Boserup, who rolled her ankle in an attempt to change direction. Boserup was in tears almost before she fell to the court, but after a trainer arrived and taped her right ankle, she continued. After losing the next point and then the next game, she retired, giving Oudin her 20th consecutive junior victory since September and a date with Halep in the semifinals.

The other girls' 18s semifinal features No. 9 seed Tammy Hendler of Belgium, the 2005 Eddie Herr 14s champion (who defeated No. 15 Gabriela Paz of Venezuela 1-6, 6-3, 6-4), against No. 7 seed Katarzyna Piter of Poland. Piter eliminated No. 16 seed Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4.

In the girls' 16s, I saw the final few games of wild card Alexandra Cercone's 6-2, 7-6(4) win over unseeded Silvia Njiric of Croatia. Cercone, who lives in St. Petersburg, won her first match in years at the Eddie Herr this week and hasn't looked back. She meets No. 8 seed Zoe DeBruycker of the U.S. who upset No. 2 seed Alexandrina of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-2. No. 13 seed Courtney Dolehide of Illinois, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 winner over No. 7 seed Aleksandra Josifoska of Macedonia, faces No. 4 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, who ended the run of U.S. qualifier Maria Belaya.

The last U.S. player in the boys' 16s is Bradenton's Sekou Bangoura Jr., who at No. 6, is the highest seed remaining. Bangoura earned his first straight set victory of the tournament with a 6-4, 6-4 decision over unseeded Alexandra Colella of Italy and will take on unseeded Jose Silva Jr. of Brazil in Saturday's semifinal. Silva defeated William Parker of the U.S. 6-4, 6-4 on Friday. The other boys' 16 semifinal pits Spain's unseeded Pablo Carreno against No. 14 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

Spencer Newman will represent the U.S. in the boys' 14s, after the diminutive No. 14 seed surprised No. 6 seed Ciprian Porumb of Romania 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3. I asked him if Porumb, who is well over six feet tall and has linebacker's build, is the biggest player he's ever beaten, and he agreed the Romanian was one of the largest he'd conquered. Newman's semifinal opponent is No. 9 seed Jan Kuncik of the Czech Republic, who defeated Robert Livi of the U.S. 7-5, 6-0. The other semifinal has No. 12 seed Tiago Fernandes of Brazil against No. 5 seed Diego Hildalgo of Ecuador. Hildago eliminated No. 15 Dennis Novikov of the U.S. 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.

2006 girls' 12 champion Laura Robson of Great Britain is on track for another title in the 14s, but will again need to get past Michigan's Jacqueline Crawford, whom she defeated in the quarterfinals at the Eddie Herr last year. The unseeded Crawford earned her shot at the No. 1 seed with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 10 seed Emi Mutaguchi of Japan. No. 5 seed Monica Puig of Florida took out No. 13 seed Jessica Ren of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2 to earn a meeting with unseeded wild card Di Zhao of China.

The girls' 16 doubles final was played this afternoon, and the No. 6 seeded U.S. team of Grace Min and Lauren Herring earned the championship, dominating the No. 1 seeded team of Lidziva Marozava and Natalia Pintusava of Belarus 8-1.

For more photos and complete draws, see eddieherr.com.