©Colette Lewis 2007--
Key Biscayne, FL--
The cooler temperatures and stronger breeze helped keep the bug bites to mere nuisance levels, and the same could be said of the upsets. There were a few, but not as many as in the earlier rounds.
One of the biggest was 14-year-old Lauren Herring's 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 2 seed Nicole Bartnik in an 8 a.m. match Wednesday morning. When I arrived Herring was down 4-2 in the second set, and at 5-2, it looked as if a split was inevitable. But Herring began to play more aggressively, especially when Bartnik didn't get her first serve in.
"I was looking to attack her second serve," said Herring, of Greenville, NC. "Put pressure on her, maybe come in behind it, so it worked."
Bartnik had difficulty maintaining her usual baseline consistency because Herring would disrupt her rhythm with a serve and volley or an angle or a slice. And as the match began slipping away, Bartnik found herself unable to control points with Herring stepping inside the baseline on returns and hitting effective first serves.
"I didn't really know how she played," said Herring, the 14s Easter Bowl champion. "So I just went in there to play my game. I haven't been playing my best the last few month; we've been making a lot of changes in my game, so it feels good that it's finally coming together."
In addition to Herring, four other U.S. girls have reached the quarterfinals. USTA 16s champion Lily Kimbell, C.C. Sardinha, Elizabeth Begley and Herring's doubles partner, 13-year-old Grace Min.
In boys' 16s action on Wednesday, No. 3 seed Denis Kudla of the U.S. was upset by Eddie Herr semifinalist Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-2, 6-4 and with Junior Ore of the U.S. taking out No. 4 seed Julien Uriguen of Guatamala 7-5, 7-5, there is now only one seed left--top seed Bernard Tomic of Australia. Tomic needed to come from behind against unseeded Raymond Sarmiento of the U.S., who showed both touch and power in taking the first set from the 15-year-old Australian. Sarmiento couldn't sustain that level however, and Tomic recovered from an early break in the third set to take the final six games of the 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 decision.
Next up for Tomic is Matt Kandath of the U.S., who defeated Alessandro Colella of Italy 6-2, 1-6, 7-5. Alex Domijan cruised to another 6-1, 6-2 victory and faces Basilashvili, while Ore meets Eddie Herr champion Pablo Carreno of Spain.
The girls 18s draw is loaded with Americans, but all seven are in the top half of the draw, with none in the bottom. Kristy Frilling, who received a special exemption from qualifying due to her doubles success at the Eddie Herr, upset No. 6 seed Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 7-6 (3), while wild card Alison Riske of Pittsburgh, Frilling's next opponent, recorded another straight set win. Wild card Coco Vandeweghe, who dropped only four games in her win over Johanna Konta of Great Britain, will celebrate her 16th birthday on Thursday by playing world No. 1 Urszula Radwanska of Poland, who lost the first two games of her second round match against Romana Tabakova of Slovakia and then won the next 12.
No. 8 seed Melanie Oudin recorded her 24th straight ITF junior win, taking out fellow American Ashley Weinhold, a wild card, 6-2, 6-3, and will face 15-year-old Christina McHale on Thursday. No. 4 seed Madison Brengle scored an easy win over Morocco's Nadia Lalami to set up a meeting with No. 15 seed Mallory Cecil, whose victory over unseeded 14-year-old Nicole Gibbs was anything but easy. Cecil took it 6-4, 7-6 (6), but Gibbs, who last week won a $10,000 Women's Circuit event in Mexico, had two set points in the tiebreaker and suffered the misfortune of a net cord ricochet winner for Cecil on match point.
The boys 18s match of the day featured Mirza Basic of Bosnia and Chase Buchanan of the U.S. Basic, who received a special exemption from qualifying because he reached the semifinals at the Eddie Herr, had won his first round match against Bradley Klahn in a third set tiebreaker, but on Wednesday afternoon he was on the wrong end of a 5-7, 6-0 7-6(10) score.
Buchanan, a wild card, took a 4-1 lead in the first set, but lost four of the next five games, and at 5-5 was broken, giving Basic an opportunity to serve for the set. Buchanan earned several break points and there were multiple deuces, but after an error on one of them, Buchanan angrily berated himself, was given a code violation for an audible obscenity and with that point, the set was over.
The 16-year-old from Ohio didn't get angry, but instead got "motivated", as he said after the match, and played flawless tennis in the second set. Using both power and touch, he never gave Basic an option on any shot, and quickly the match was even. His level dropped in the third set, after the adrenaline began to ebb, but there were no breaks, as each player protected his serve.
Buchanan earned his initial match points when he took a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker, but Basic cracked a service winner on the first and Buchanan hit what he called a "tight" forehand on the second. On the second change of ends, Buchanan made a shirt change, as if he suspected that the match wouldn't be ending with the next two points. A crisp backhand volley earned Buchanan his third match point, but another forehand long evened it at 7. When Basic closed and put away an overhead to earn his first match point, it was his turn to make an error, with his forehand finding the net. A mishit forehand winner gave Buchanan his fourth match point, but Basic brushed that away with a service winner and another change of ends was in order. Basic earned his second match point with a vicious backhand pass that landed on the baseline, but he couldn't handle Buchanan's next serve and the score stood at 10-10. Basic's backhand return on the next point sailed well long giving Buchanan his fifth chance to finish it, and with a slightly framed drop volley winner, he did.
"On my serve I was pretty confident that I could hit a serve he couldn't get," Buchanan said. "So I kind of did that a few times. On his serve, I kind of knew where he was going to go, but I wasn't hitting my returns aggressive enough. If I had hit my returns more aggressively, probably the whole third set would have been different."
Buchanan, who had upset U.S. Open Junior champion Ricardas Berankis in the second round of the Eddie Herr, drew a parallel to that match last week.
"It was kind of like the Berankis match--I had a whole bunch of break points in the third set that I couldn't capitalize on."
Should both win on Thursday, Berankis and Buchanan will meet again in the quarterfinals. Three other U.S. boys reached the round of 16, and all made it by defeating other Americans: No. 11 seed Rhyne Williams, who defeated fellow Tennessean Bo Seal 7-5, 7-5, No. 15 seed Ryan Harrison, a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 victor over roommate Wil Spencer and No. 14 seed Jarmere Jenkins a 6-3, 6-0 winner over Tennys Sandgren.
For complete draws, see usta.com.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007