©Colette Lewis 2008--
Unseeded Jacqueline Cako will attempt to derail top seed Melanie Oudin in Sunday's girls final at the International Spring Championships, while No. 2 seed Bradley Klahn will renew his rivalry with No. 5 seed Jarmere Jenkins in the boys championship match.
Cako put an end to the run of unseeded qualifier Danielle Lao, avenging a recent straight set loss in a prequalifier for the Pacific Life professional tournament by taking a 6-2, 6-4 victory on Saturday.
"I tried to get rid of my unforced errors," said Cako, 16. "Last time I played her I had quite a few unforced errors, and her slice kind of bugged me--I missed a lot on it, so I tried to slice it back and give it a lot of top spin to make sure it got over the net."
Cako also approached the net with regularity, keeping Lao off-balance, and the errors that had been notably absent in Lao's previous matches began to mount.
In Sunday's final, Cako will again try to reverse the outcome of a previous contest when she takes on Oudin, who didn't allow Cako a game when they met in the quarterfinals of an ITF Grade 2 event last November in Lexington, South Carolina.
Oudin, the world's third-ranked junior, hasn't suffered many losses in junior competition, and one of her regular victims has been No. 3 seed Gabriela Paz of Venezuela. In Saturday's semifinal, Oudin prevailed for the fourth straight time, taking a 6-4, 6-1 decision, and she felt taking the first set was psychologically significant for her.
"I've been playing well against Gaby and I've beaten her all the other times, so that helped a little bit," said Oudin. "After I got the first set, that was really important. She started making some errors in the second and I started just not missing."
When Oudin reached 5-1 in the second set, she tried to forget that she had been in the same position in the quarterfinals on Friday against Valeria Solovieva of Russia, who extended Oudin to 7-5 in the third set after rallying to win the second set in a tiebreaker.
"I was trying so hard not to think anything about yesterday," said Oudin. "But Gaby's game is different than Valeria, and I knew if I could keep the ball going, she would miss eventually."
Despite the one-sided victory over Cako in South Carolina, Oudin is expecting a tight contest Sunday.
"She has a good serve, she's quick, and she has a lot of variety," said Oudin of Cako. "She's really mentally tough, and she fights really hard, so tomorrow's going to be a tough match I think."
Jenkins and Klahn's last two encounters make the prospect of a third very enticing, as Klahn took a first round three-setter from Jenkins at last year's International Spring Championships, and Jenkins prevailed in three in the semifinals of the Tulsa B1 Closed last October.
"Last year I was up 5-4 in the third serving and I let it slip away," said Jenkins, who defeated roommate and friend Chase Buchanan 7-5, 6-2 in Saturday's semifinal. "Then when I played him again in Tulsa, I was up 5-4 in the third serving and I got him."
Jenkins was broken once in each set against Buchanan, but his serve was a significant advantage throughout the match. Buchanan's forehand was erratic, especially on key points, and Jenkins, 16, was pleased with his own execution."
"Everything was working for me today," said Jenkins, who joked that he thought about cutting the strings of Buchanan's racquets while he slept. "Today wasn't his best day, but a win's a win."
For Klahn, his 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3 victory over No. 4 seed Borut Puc of Slovenia was particularly satisfying because the level of play was high throughout the contest.
"He played a great match all the way through," said Klahn of his fellow left-hander. "Every set was a battle, and I think I picked up my game as the match went on. I had a lot of opportunities, but he just came up with big forehands, which got me a little bit agitated. But having those opportunities helped me settle down a little, and I started converting them later in the second and third sets."
Klahn broke Puc at 3-3 in the third set,"that really got my momentum going," Klahn said, and he held and broke again to set up another confrontation with Jenkins.
"It's definitely going to be tough," said Klahn, 17. "We've played quite a few times and every match has been a tough one, so I'm not expecting anything less."
Klahn capped his day with the a doubles championship as he and partner Milos Raonic of Canada, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Alexei Grigorov of Russia and Ryan Noble of the U.S. 6-3, 6-4.
The top-seeded girls team of Paz and Solovieva also emerged with the championship, as they downed unseeded Jessica Alexander and Lauren Embree of the U.S. 6-4, 6-3.
For complete results, see the usta.com website.
Saturday, April 5, 2008