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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Elortegui Upsets Boys 16s Top Seed Vick; Davis Ousts Top Seed Fuller in Girls 16s Easter Bowl Action

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Rancho Mirage, CA--

The boys 16s provided the bulk of the excitement Wednesday at the Easter Bowl, with third-set tiebreakers deciding three third round matches, including Michael Elortegui's 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) upset of top seed Nelson Vick.

Elortegui, a 17 seed, was leading 5-2 in the third set, but his serve deserted him, and Vick broke back and held for 5-5. When Elortegui, who trains at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, double faulted to open the 11th game, it looked as if he might go quietly, but Vick made a couple of errors and Elortegui held.

Vick connected on his forehand in the next game to send the match to the tiebreaker, and as a small crowd gathered around Court 5, the tension rose as the sun began to set behind the mountains.

At 4-4 in the tiebreaker, Elortegui double faulted, giving Vick the chance to serve out the match. After a long rally, Vick pulled Elortegui off the court with a volley and when the floating reply came, Vick had his choice of placement. His backhand volley sailed long, however, and the momentum, as well as two match points, were gone.

"I just made him play it and hope for the best, and he ended up missing," said Elortegui, who also won his first round match in a third set tiebreaker. "It was a great relief and I think it was the turning point right there."

Vick missed a forehand on the next point, giving Elortegui his first match point; when he made his first serve and Vick's backhand returned landed long, Elortegui sank to the court, overcome by emotion.

"Fighting through the nerves, it was just everything," Elortegui said of his response to that final point. "Fighting back after being up 5-2, to 5-5 and continuously fighting."

Elortegui and Vick, who is from Wisconsin, had never played before, but Elortegui was impressed with his opponent's play.

"He's a great player. I definitely wasn't expecting how great he played," said Elortegui. "To be honest, I didn't expect how great I played."

Fourth seed Brian Fang also pulled out a third set tiebreaker in his match to defeat Chidi Gabriel, a 17 seed who had beaten Christian Harrison on Tuesday, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).

"In the first set he didn't miss a forehand," said Fang. "He was hitting winners everywhere. In the second set, I was just grinding, getting everything back, and eventually he missed some."

Early in the third, Gabriel rolled his ankle, but after having it wrapped by the trainer, he continued to play. At 5-4 in the third, Fang was serving for the match, but got "so tight" that he lost his serve at love. Despite a second chance after breaking Gabriel in the next game, Fang again was broken at love, not an ideal way to enter a third set tiebreaker.

"In the tiebreaker he started going after everything because he was cramping," Fang said. "I got more confident, he just started missing everything, and that was match."

Clarke Spinosa, a 17 seed, also advanced to the round of 16 via the nerve-wracking third set tiebreaker route, defeating Nathan Pasha 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).

The girls 16s top seed Kate Fuller was ousted by 17 seed Lauren Davis, a finalist in last year's Easter Bowl 14s, 6-4, 6-4.

Although the score may not suggest it, the match had its share of drama, with Davis taking a 5-2 lead in the second set, before Fuller fought back. After five match points, the two-hour-plus contest was decided, somewhat anticlimatically, by a roving umpire.

At ad-in, Fuller thought she had caught the line for a winner, but Davis called the ball out, and began coming to the net for the handshake. With the wind gusting, Fuller didn't hear the call, and returned to the deuce court position to receive serve. After a conversation between the two girls, which was polite and composed, an official was summoned, and the call stood.

"On the match points I was kind of tense," said Davis, who counts the Easter Bowl as her favorite tournament. "I tried to calm myself down, but I guess it didn't work. I made some stupid errors."

The quarterfinals are set in the girls 18s, and just as it was last week in Carson, the bottom half of the draw is without a seed, assuring an unseeded finalist.

McCall Jones, who lost in qualifying in Carson, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-6(5), 7-6(4) win over No. 5 seed Lauren McHale. Also in the quarterfinals is 2005 Easter Bowl 14s champion Lauren Embree, who beat Jones in the finals that year. Last year's 16s champion Nicole Gibbs continued her Rancho Mirage winning streak, taking out No. 7 seed Brooke Bolender 6-3, 6-2, and will face No. 15 seed Christina McHale, who downed fourth seed and 2007 18s finalist Nadja Gilchrist 7-5, 6-2.

There were no upsets Wednesday in boys 18s second round action, and only three unseeded players, two of whom are from Thousand Oaks, Calif., reached the final 16.

For complete draws for the 14s and 16s, click here. For the 18s draws and results,click here.