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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Min Upsets Second Seed Guarachi in Clay Court Round of 16

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Memphis, TN--

There is no substitute for being at a tennis tournament. If you went to the Girls 18s Clay Courts draws tonight and saw that 14-year-old Grace Min, seeded tenth, defeated No. 2 seed Alexa Guarachi 0-6, 6-1, 6-3, you would wonder what turned the match around, what provided Min with the momentum to take the next two sets easily. But you wouldn't know that the last game of match took nearly twenty minutes to complete, that Min needed nine match points to finally finish it, and faced two break points in that remarkable game, which would have put the match back on serve.

"I kept saying, okay, this next point, you're going to get this next point, but I didn't, I still didn't, until like the ten millionth one. She finally just hit a return error," said Min, who hit a gutsy forehand winner in the corner to save one of the break points. "If I lost that game, she would have been serving at 4-5, and that wouldn't have been good, since she has a really good serve. I really needed that game."

In the first set, Guarachi looked much more at ease, and Min had difficulty getting a first serve in, compounding her predictament. Guarachi was in control with her forehand, banking the first set very quickly. But Min jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, and the errors began to come in bunches for the second seed. Guarachi chided herself during a wayward stretch in the second set, saying "you're just giving her confidence." Guarachi had dropped the middle set in her match on Wednesday against Britney Sanders but had broken open a tight match by winning the final three games, so she was capable of reversing the momentum that Min had taken in the second set. But Min refused to indulge in any tentative play, even when chance after chance came and went in the final game.

"The mindset, playing not to lose, did bring me down a couple of times, not in this match, but in previous tournaments," Min said. "I definitely learned from those tournaments. And I didn't have anything to lose, she was the two seed, I was the ten seed, and I was just going out there to compete hard. I was confident with the way I was playing so I was just, go for it."

Min will play No. 5 seed Kristie Ahn, who defeated unseeded Kate Fuller 6-1, 6-2. The previous time Ahn and Min met, in the round of 16 at the USTA Spring Championships, Ahn prevailed in two sets, but needed a slew of match points before she finally closed it out, a scenario much like that of Min's today.

Min wasn't the only player to drop the first set of her match 6-0 and yet go on to win. Hideko Tachibana, the No. 11 seed, suffered through that demoralizing scenario too, but took the final two sets from No. 7 seed Alexandra Cercone 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal contest with No. 3 seed Lauren Embree, who downed Danielle Collins, a 17 seed, 6-3, 6-1.

Top seed Beatrice Capra cruised past No. 13 seed Hanna Mar 6-2, 6-1 and will face Rachel Saiontz, the No. 9 seed. Saiontz dropped the first set to Danielle Lao, a 17 seed, but came back convincingly, for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory.

No. 4 seed Jacqueline Cako has been dominant throughout the week, and today was no exception, as she served exceptionally well in her 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 12 seed Monica Chow. Cako meets No. 16 seed Kaitlyn Christian, who upset No. 6 seed Keri Wong 7-6(1), 6-4.

The doubles quarterfinals also delivered several upsets, with the heat and humidity beginning to ratchet up as the day dissolved into evening.

Top seeds Embree and Saiontz came out strong against the No. 6 seeded team of Cercone and Jacqueline Kasler, but couldn't sustain it, as Cercone and Kasler took a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision in an entertaining match that featured some blistering ground strokes and jaw-dropping gets. Cercone and Kasler will play No. 7 seeds Alexandra Leatu and Ellen Tsay in Friday's semifinals. Leatu and Tsay beat a nine seeded team, Fuller and Julie Sabacinski 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

The third team to come back from a set down to win was the eighth seeded team of Lauren Herring and Min, who took out No. 4 seeds Lilly Kimbell and Zoe De Bruycker 5-7, 6-0, 6-2. Herring and Min will play the second seeded team of Cako and Courtney Dolehide, who downed Mar and Kate Turvy, the fifth seeds, 6-1, 6-3.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

For coverage of USTA Clay Court championships in Florida, go to collegeandjuniortennis.com


Austin said...

Ive noticed that a couple people are playing in a Futures tournament this week instead of the Clays. Also, the rest of the top players dont seem to be playing this week at all. I think that's sad. Instead of out grinding to win a National Championship you sit at home practicing, not to mention a wildcard into an ATP tournament is on the line. Just one example of the state of American tennis.

Brent said...

Austin, I totally agree. I understand that playing Futures instead of junior events could be a better strategy for preparing for the pros. But, how can you not set that aside for one week to play for a national championship? Unfortunately, these kids (or more likely their coaches and parents) don't realize that the trophies, the memories, and the legacy is all that most of these kids will have 20 years from now, not a pro future. And from that perspective, would you rather have the memory of being the Clay Court national champion that year or making the quarters in the Joplin, Missouri Futures stop? I just don't get it. I wonder if any of it goes to some of the comments about how poorly the Clays may be run under current leadership.

Brent said...

Not to toot my own horn (but more out of surprise b/c I ususally am so inaccurate with these), had Cox defeated Noble, I would have gone 8 for 8 on my picks for the 18s quarters. Almost.

Ryan said...

Brent, Austin:

Does it surprise you? After the successes of some juniors in Futures (Buchanan, to name one), everyone wants to mirror that. Sadly, the national championships are held at a lower esteem than what they once use to.

For example, why would someone like Jordan Cox play 18s when he can still play 16s? He lost 3rd round. It is my belief that a player should play his/her age group until they are completely dominant (winning every tournament they play in), and then they can move up 1 age group. Sure, some 14 year olds are good enough to play in 18s, but winning a gold ball is something that has become forsaken. Christian Harrison can't hang with or beat Domijjan or Sangren. It isn't a skill, it is a maturity issue.

Now, I believe it is a responsibility to provide solutions. The USTA should limit the amount a player can play up (6 tournaments a year or so) to people who can still play in their age group. Too many kids expect to go professional and are missing out on some experiences that they cant make up.

Bystander said...

Brent, clay courts are not a great surface for a lot of players. It's a grinders' heaven that requires patience, discipline and superior fitness in the FL heat and humidity. It more about physical conditioning than tennis. As of Thursday, some back draw singles players had to play 3 singles matches and 2 doubles matches! The scheduling is a reflection of the current leadership mismanaging the tournament. All the players and families just sit around wondering why they cancel entire days matches at early as 3:30. Then the sun comes out and it's beautiful at 5:30! A total of 31 Doubles Teams withdrew from the tournament because doubles (originally scheduled for Sat) began on Thursday night. They could have played doubles Sun, Mon and Tues night under the lights. Some college coaches were here for 5 days and only saw one morning of play and went home. I, for one, will not come back here next year if the tournament is run by the same people.

another point of view said...

Ryan, The problem with your solution is that the I.T.F.'s are 18 and under only so there is no way to put a limit on the number of times to play up in those. Lets face it most of the higher level players have to care more about I.T.F.'s because you can not qualify for the Slams in juniors without playing them. Even next month you could very easily say that the U.S.T.A. deemphasizes there on Championships by sending kids to the World Team Championships rather than having them play the national championships at home. Most of the great players in the last 25 years didn't worry much about gold balls as they did development for the professional level. Some of these kids playing up have a chance to play professionally in the future but there are a lot of them who are fooling themselves as well. The other thing you have to think about is the current ranking system which makes it tough to decide when to move up due to Sectional endorsement and the ability to get into the bigger tournaments when you do age out. It would be crazy to tell Ryan Harrison to play 16's Kalamazoo this year instead of 18's. Same with Domijan and a few others. They are trying to learn the mens game so what would be the point of them staying in 16's. A Gold Ball... Not that important. Jack Sock has a slew of them and stays in all the U.S.T.A. tournaments for Super nationals till the end of each age gruop and what has he gotten for.. Its a mistake if he wants to play real pro tennis. Nobody cares if he wins another gold ball or not. Is he developing a game to play on the big stage?

Brent said...

bystander...I feel your pain on the scheduling debacles. That must be so frustrating. Aren't the Clays Ivan Baron's show? You would think he would have the management down to a science, but maybe a great player doesn't make a great manager. What do the tourney organizers say when given what has to be a mountain of negative feedback?

Brent said...

APOV, not sure Jack Sock has a big pro future. Who knows? But I'm pretty sure that losing in the third round of 18s like Cox wouldn't be preparing him any more than playing 16s. And again, if he doesn't make it in the pros, I would much rather have the legacy of all Sock's gold balls rather than a bunch of third round outs. Other than nationals, they all have the rest of the year to play 18s or Futures or whatever they want. We're only talking about a couple weeks out of the year. I agree that it doesn't make sense for Harrison or Domijan to play 16s but it should be a pretty short list. Maybe Vanoverbeek as well but that's about it. Other than Sampras and Chang, I'm not sure there is a long list of players who you would say benefitted from playing consistently up in age divisions.

Austin said...

Suck it up and play.

The Dude said...

Yes, Ivan Baron is the tourny director. This is the 2nd year running it and it's still a mess. They only use one maintenance person at the Delray Beach Tennis Center (DBTC) who only cleared 4 out of 12 courts for night play on Mon, Tue nights. Sun was completely canceled at 3:30 pm. Accuweather forecasted thunder showers every day this week so they knew what was coming. On Tues they told me to play 1st round at Wed 11 am offsite. I requested to play at DBTC and they said it was not possible, wouldn't explain why. Tues night at 8 pm they tell me to play at DBTC at Wed 8 am, fine. At 10:15 pm they tell me my opponent hasn't returned their call so we are back to Wed 11 am off site. We start and it rains 11:30. Day is canceled, yet again. If it is forecasted rain every afternoon, shouldn't they schedule more matches at 8 am anyways? After canceling doubles every day, they FINALLY use all the courts for night play on Thurs night for 1st round doubles! They squandered Sun, Mon and Tue nights for play and jam everybody into 3 singles matched back draw. BY this time not knowing when we are going to leave this town and checking airline change fees, 31 doubles team including myself withdraw. You can now be a quarterfinalist in Supernational Doubles by playing only ONE match. Singles players are cramping and pulling out as the sun is out and it's really hot now. Oh well, never again. Again, blame incompetence and not the weather. Their only answer to why more courts aren't being prepared is that, "well, we already canceled matches at 4 pm so we really can't ask everyone back now. They are all probably eating dinner." Everyone is stupified and only want to get on the courts and play. I saw one player contact his opponent and they both wanted to play main draw on Tue night and the tourney desk wouldn't let them go on! "No, we only groomed 4 courts for play and we have other scheduled matches." I'm home now preparing for the 18s Team Championships in IL and then on to the Zoo where they really know how to run a tournament and where common sense prevails.

The Dude said...

BTW, did anyone here see the Sandgren-Van Overbeek match or the KIng-Seal match and tell us what the action was like?

APOV said...

Brent, Sampras and Chang didn't play under the current ranking system which makes it far more difficult to no when the appropriate time to move up would be. Also I'm not sure I would put Vanoverbeek in the same class with Domijan and the like just yet. I don't believe he could win the 16's but I'm sure Domijan and Harrison would unless they played each other. I'm not sure Cox could win it either. As I said some of these kids are fooling themselves.

Bystander said...

I heard that the USTA wants the boys to play in their respective age groups, i.e., King, Sarmiento, Cox. This probably doesn't include Harrison.

Confused said...

You think that VanOverbeek wouldn't win the 16's even though he just beat Sandgren 3,0. I don't see that logic.

unconfused said...

Confused, Don't be. In my opinion when ALL the best players play at Kalamazoo and it is on hard courts and not clay courts which he grew up on in Fla. the results will be drastically different. I think he could get to the quarters or even the semis but don't think he can win it.

APOV said...

Bystander, If they want these kids to play in their respective age groups when they are capable of going deep in the higher age group it is a mistake and stunts their development. How does it stunt their development? By always staying in your on age group when you are capable of going deep in the next age group you are never looking to prove yourself at the next level and are always put in a position to just stay ahead of the ones who are chasing you. If you are all ready ahead of them move up. Whats left to prove? The problem is the kids who move up WITHOUT proving themselve and never get past the 2nd or 3rd rd. when playing up. That is senseless.

Colette Lewis said...