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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ahn Escapes Upset in Wednesday Action at Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Memphis, TN--

It was another day of good weather and good performances by the seeded players at the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts, with 15 of the 16 remaining players in the draw sporting a red number next to their names. But No. 2 seed Alexa Guarachi and No. 5 seed Kristie Ahn were pushed to third sets by their opponents, with Ahn advancing when No. 17 seed Ellen Tsay had to retire with cramps trailing 3-1 in the final set.

Ahn had taken a comfortable 6-3, 3-0 lead, but by her own admission, she relaxed, and Tsay refused to concede the match. "I thought from then it would be easier," said Ahn, who has won two Pro Circuit events this summer. "But she just fought the whole time and I was just watching, waiting for her to make a mistake, which obviously did not happen."

The left-handed Tsay, who hits with little pace but uses her savvy placement and maddening consistency to frustrate her opponents, really found her rhythm in the middle of the second set. Although Ahn resisted the temptation to try to hit a winner on every point, her strokes were not as deep as they had been in the first set, and Tsay won many of the rallies by simply waiting for Ahn to miss. Tsay broke Ahn at 4-4 and served out the second set, and although there was no heat break, both players took a bathroom break.

Ahn took a 2-0 lead, but gave her break back making it 2-1. Tsay requested a trainer at the changeover, and received treatment on her thigh before retaking the court. She fashioned a 40-15 lead, but Ahn stepped up her game at that point, and soon had turned the game in her favor, taking a 3-1 lead. Tsay couldn't return to her position to receive serve, and for a minute or two stood near the service line with her racquet serving as a prop to hold herself up. A roving umpire arrived on the court, but she could not receive treatment for a second time for the cramping and was forced to retire.

"When she got up 40-15 I was telling myself, if you win this game, there is a slight chance she could retire," Ahn said. "But if you lose this game, there's no way she's going to retire."

Tsay did receive treatment after the match and returned to play doubles several hours later, where she and partner Alexandra Leatu won their round of 16 contest.

Second seed Guarachi was challenged by Californian Britney Sanders, finding herself at at 3-3 in the third set with her hard-hitting unseeded opponent. But Guarachi swept the final three games of the match for the 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win, advancing to a round of 16 meeting with 14-year-old Grace Min, the 10th seed, who outlasted a No. 17 seed, Lindsey Hardenbergh, 7-6(3), 6-4.

Top seed Beatrice Capra lost the first four games of her early morning match with unseeded Floridian Maria Belaya, but Capra weathered the onslaught and took the final 12 games of her 6-4, 6-0 victory.

There is only one top eight seed missing from the round of 16: Lilly Kimbell, who fell to Danielle Lao, a 17 seed, 6-3, 6-2. The only unseeded player remaining is Kate Fuller, who advanced without the loss of a game against Melissa Cecil.

For complete results, including doubles played this evening, visit the TennisLink site.

For coverage of various Clay Court championships in Florida, see collegeandjuniortennis.com.


Brent said...

Any idea why Christian Harrison and Kudla aren't listed in the 16s player list for Kzoo?

Colette Lewis said...

Harrison is playing for the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic for 14-and-unders. Kudla is among several players who have played 18s most of the year, and will need a wild card to compete in 16s.

Brent said...

Representing your country is great and it is pretty tough to criticize someone who chooses to do that, but I can't imagine passing up a chance to compete for the national championship.

Austin said...

I never came close to having the opportunity to do so, but i would have had a hard time deciding. On one hand you get a chance to be the top dog in the nation for your age, but on the other you get to do something that most people in your country wont know about, but that your peers will fear and envy you for getting the chance to represent your country. Has to be a hard decision.

t3nnis said...

Personally, I would go to to Worlds hands down. It is the greatest honor to play for your country, even though Christian went the previous year. There is always next year for nationals (in Christian's case, a lot more years) but this is his last year for Worlds.