©Colette Lewis 2008--
Rancho Mirage CA--
Twelve-year-old Sachia Vickery took the gold ball at the 12s Spring Nationals in her home state of Florida last year. This year she moved west to California and stepped up to the 14s, but again took top honors, with a 6-3, 6-4 win over top seed Kyle McPhillips on a hot, cloudless Coachella Valley day.
Vickery, a No. 17 seed, took a 4-1 first-set lead over McPhillips, whose unforced error count in the first set might have exceeded the total in her previous six straight-set wins. McPhillips, from Willoughby, Ohio, saw her first serve desert her, and it wasn't until she was down 4-1 in the second set that she held for the second time.
"Sometimes I didn't get my first serve in even once in a game," said McPhillips. "It was really off. My second serve held up, but my first serve was bad."
Vickery, who is from Miramar, Florida and now trains at IMG/Bollettieri's, took advantage, and moved out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. But McPhillips fought back to even the second set, and Vickery admitted that her lack of concentration may have contributed to that.
"I was thinking, am I going to win Easter Bowl, or just be a finalist, or am I going to frame the next ball?" she joked. "I just took a minute, recuperated, and started playing like I did in the first set. I don't think I was taking enough time during the breaks, I was kind of rushing."
After slowing herself down, Vickery played a strong service game that gave her a 5-4 lead. McPhillips was serving to stay in the match, but at 15-30 she missed an overhead to give Vickery her first championship point. The final rally ended with McPhillips hitting a forehand long, and Vickery had a gold ball to go with her gold Maria Sharapova Prince racquet bag.
"She played good," said McPhillips, who will be representing the United States in World Junior Competition qualifying in Canada next month. "She didn't make many errors and she's a good player."
Vickery was pleased with her performance and with the Easter Bowl title.
"I'm really happy right now, and I know my mom is really happy--she was screaming on the phone," Vickery said. "I feel great being the youngest person in the tournament and being able to win."
Top seed Michael Rinaldi completed the Floridian sweep of the 14s when he defeated No. 5 seed John Harrison Richmond of Pawley's Island, S.C. 6-3, 6-2.
Rinaldi had difficulty with his first serve in the first, which helped the left-handed Richmond get several looks at break points in the first four games. But Richmond was broken after a multi-deuce game at 2-2, and had difficulty holding after that.
"Sometimes my serve let me down, but it won me the match," said Rinaldi, who is the nephew of former WTA star Kathy Rinaldi. "I got a lot of free points off first serves."
Rinaldi, who will be 15 in October, displayed a bit more depth and pace than Richmond, who may have been feeling the effects of his previous three three-set matches.
"I felt fine, fresh going in, and I thought I had a lot of chances in the first set, even the second set, that I did not capitalize on," said Richmond, who goes by Harrison, rather than John. "It (the three-setters) may have had something to do with it, it's a long tournament, but he played better and he deserves it."
Rinaldi didn't have much time to celebrate, as he was due on the court in a few hours for the doubles final. He and partner Trey Strobel, the No. 2 seeds, lost to the No. 6 seeded team of Andrew Korinek and Michael Riechmann 6-1, 7-6(3).
The girls 14s doubles championship went to Julia Jones and Blair Shankle, the No. 3 seeds. They defeated the No. 4 seeded team of Ashley Dai and Valerie Thong 6-3, 6-2.
The 16s finals will be played Sunday. No. 8 seed Jack Sock meets No. 2 seed Clay Thompson for the boys title. Sock defeated Joshua Tchan, the No. 6 seed, 6-1, 6-3 while Thompson downed No. 14 seed Mitchell Frank 6-0, 6-2. Ellen Tsay, the No. 2 seed, beat No. 8 seed Jennifer Kellner 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the girls final against Sarah Lee. Lee, the No. 12 seed, overcame Mary Ann MacFarlane, a 17 seed, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals.
For complete results, including consolation winners and third place finishers in the 14s, click here for the TennisLink site.
Saturday, April 12, 2008