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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rain Makes For Long Day at Spring Nationals

©Colette Lewis 2008—
Mobile, AL—

A five-hour rain delay resulted in the 32 main draw singles matches being played in a compressed time period this afternoon at the USTA Spring championships. The sun returned by mid-afternoon and by the time it had set, four unseeded players—1 boy and 3 girls--had advanced to Wednesday's round of 16.

The unseeded boy, future UCLA Bruin Alex Brigham, continued his stellar play, quickly disposing of No. 8 seed Kyle McMorrow 6-2, 6-3, a day after the Southern Californian had rolled over No. 17 seed Billy Federhofer, losing only three games. The other top-eight boys' seed sent to the back draw was No. 6 Ryan Lipman, who fell to alphabetical seed Patrick Daciek of Maryland 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The top seven girls' seeds moved through, but No. 3 Keri Wong was down a set to alphabetical seed Kaitlyn Christian before adjusting for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 win.

Both Wong and Christian can slice and dice with the best of them, and in the first set, Wong chipped in with a slew of unforced errors. Christian often forces her opponent to win a point two or three times, and Wong's inconsistency cost her. But once she began to keep in play her vast repertoire of shots, Wong could work the point until she hit a winner.

The unseeded girls through to the round of 16 include Courtney Griffith of Georgia, who took out local favorite Ebie Wilson 7-6 (3), 6-2. Griffith had upset No. 8 seed Elizabeth Epstein on Monday.

Unseeded Katie Kargl of Illinois prevailed over No. 13 seed Olivia Janowicz 4-6, 6-0, 6-4. I saw only the last three games of the match, which was played on court 36, one of the new courts added this year, but during that time, I didn't see Kargl miss one ball or make a single error.

I didn't see any of unseeded 13-year-old Grace Min's 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 12 seed Stephany Chang since it was played across the street and didn't last very long. But Min admitted afterward that she had played very well in taking out her second seed in as many days.

Top seed Bradley Klahn won the battle of the lefthanders against alphabetical seed Evan King 6-3, 6-3. There were long baseline rallies in the contest, many of them forehand to forehand, but it was the more experienced Klahn who took the key points.

I watched quite a bit of contest between No. 13 seed Isamu Tachibana and alphabetical seed Jadon Phillips of Georgia. Tachibana won the first set 6-1, but as quickly as that was over, Phillips jumped out to a big advantage in the second set and took that 6-2. When I returned to the third set, Phillips had broken Tachibana to take a 4-3 lead, but he wouldn't win another game. The Texan relies on his forehand for winners, but that presented a problem for him initially, as Phillips' backhand is rock solid. In the final three games however, Tachibana stroked his forehand much more aggressively, with Phillips donating a few unforced errors to seal his fate.

Girls' top seed Christina McHale had no difficulty with unseeded Rachel Kahan, taking a 6-1, 6-1 decision, and No. 2 seed Lauren Embree also lost only two games in her match with unseeded Emily Wolf.

For complete results, including doubles, which were still being played as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, visit the TennisLink site.

For additional coverage of the Spring Nationals see collegeandjuniortennis.com.