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Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day at International Spring Championships

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Carson, CA--

Although the temperature didn't climb much past the lower 60s, the calm winds and blue skies made for great playing conditions at the ITF International Spring Championships at the Home Depot Center--at least in the morning.

The winds picked up in the afternoon, and a jacket was never inappropriate, but there was very little to complain about with so much tennis to watch.

The USTA High Performance department was out in force, with Jean Nachand, Rodney Harmon and Paul Roetert all watching matches throughout the day. High Performance coaches Martin VanDaalen, David Roditi, Mike Sell, Jean Desdunes were just a few of a host of coaches on hand to evaluate, and college coaches were also present to do some scouting in advance of next week's signing date.

I stayed in the vicinity of the eight main courts, although seven others, including the stadium, were also used today. Shaun Bernstein, who had been out with shoulder problems for three months, was back on the courts again, and I watched a few games between he and Daniel Weingarten in the 16s. Both players have one-handed backhands, although neither hit very many of them in the points I saw; running around to a forehand was the preferred method of winning points, and Bernstein did it best, taking a 6-2, 6-3 victory. One of the big upsets of the day came in boys 16s, where No. 3 seed Nathan Pasha lost to Gregory Scott 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Court 4, the stadium court, began to draw a crowd when top seed and the world's third ranked junior Melanie Oudin faced Katarena Paliivets of Canada in the 18s. (See video below). Oudin was down a break twice in the first set, but managed to squeak past the 16s Orange Bowl finalist in a tiebreaker, and then picked up the pace in the second set to record a 7-6 (6), 6-1 win. Paliivets hit the ball very cleanly, especially from the backhand side, and kept the errors and the dramatics she can often indulge in to a minimum. It wasn't quite enough to topple the No. 1 seed Monday, but it did signal an increasing maturity to her game for the future.

The top half of the girls 18s draw is loaded--all eight wild cards ended up there, which would seem to be mathematically impossible in a random draw. Oudin will meet the winner of the Kristie Ahn - Nicole Gibbs match, which I'm looking forward to seeing Tuesday. Winter National 18s champion Alexandra Cercone took out No. 8 seed Nadja Gilchrist 6-1, 6-4, and Missy Clayton outlasted No. 13 seed Nicole Bartnik 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 to account for the upsets of the day in that division.

Top seeds Alexei Grigorov and Bradley Klahn had quick matches Monday afternoon in the boys 18s, and No. 5 seed Jarmere Jenkins had an abbreviated workout when Jordon Cox was forced to retire with back spasms after losing the first set 6-1.

I watched most of the match between No. 10 seed Chase Buchanan and Filipp Pogostkin, with Buchanan taking that 6-1, 6-3. Buchanan trailed 3-0 in the second set, but once he got his concentration back, Pogostkin was unable to counter the pace and consistency Buchanan demonstrated. Several times Buchanan made delicate drop volleys or difficult backhand volleys to finish a point, but more as a reaction than a strategy or game style. If he came in more often, he might find those talents and instincts would shorten points considerably.

The girls 16s were still out on court after 7 p.m., so please see the usta.com site for that draw, and the results of other matches played today.


Brent said...

What has happened to Lawrence Formentera? He looked great at the Zoo last year, but haven't heard from him in a while, and then went down to Stevens yesterday in the first round. I know that Stevens is a good player, but has Formentera been injured?

The Dude said...

What happened to Fomentera, I saw that he retired?

Colette Lewis said...

He is just back from a stress fracture in his foot.