©Colette Lewis 2008--
It was four days coming, but the first major upset of the tournament was a whopper, with No. 20 seed Spencer Newman taking out 16s top seed Harry Fowler 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of an appreciative lunchtime crowd.
Making his first appearance in Kalamazoo this year, Newman immediately became a tournament favorite due to his diminutive stature. Often no bigger than the ballrunners working his court, Newman has used his speed and his court sense to overcome bigger opponents this week. Fowler, who received the No. 1 seed based on his Top 100 ITF ranking, was a serious challenge however, and in the first set, Newman couldn't get that key point when he needed it.
After taking a 3-0 lead in the second set however, Newman, 15, grew more confident.
"I'm thinking, it's possible,I can do this," said Newman, who trains at the USTA High Performance Center in Boca Raton. "This kid's beatable. I had chances in the first set, I didn't take my opportunities--I had a bunch of ads to make it 5-all. So I knew it was possible; it gave me that extra edge."
The ten-minute break that came after the second set, mandatory for 16s singles, should have given Fowler time to regroup, but there was no perceptible change in the momentum when the match resumed. Newman had discussed strategy with Bill Clark, who coaches his younger brother Baker, but there were no changes, just, as Newman said, "things reinforced that I already knew."
"I was figuring out the match also. Keeping the ball in play--the guy's going to miss. He's not the most consistent guy in the world, he's flashy. I was winning basically every backhand to backhand rally, so why go to the forehand? His forehand would get cold because I was going to the backhand so much."
Newman went up a break midway through the third, but that's when the possibility of winning the match began to sink in.
"I was feeling confident, but the nerves started hitting me. I didn't have the nerves until that point," Newman said, the thrill of the victory still in his voice. "Then I felt it more and more until match point. But when I hit that drop volley for the winner, I just felt so good, so relieved."
Newman's win over Fowler was the only upset in the 16s singles, and he is the only seed outside the top 16 in the fifth round. All the top eight seeds, excepting of course, Fowler, won in straight sets.
No. 13 seed Zachary Leslie was tested by Kalamazoo's Greg Andrews, the No. 25 seed, but the 2008 16s Clay Court finalist overcame the loss of the first set and the spirited hometown support for Andrews to take a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision. No. 11 seed Clay Thompson squeezed past No. 24 seed Justin Shane 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 and No. 12 seed Ben Guthrie edged No. 18 seed Daniel Ho 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5).
Two of the top 16 seeds in the 18s division fell on Tuesday afternoon, both former 16s champions in Kalamazoo. Last year's champion Tennys Sandgren, the 10th seed this year in 18s, lost to No. 21 seed Alex Llompart of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-3, and 2006 champion Brennan Boyajian, the No. 14 seed, couldn't close out unseeded Ian Chadwell, who won 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5.
Boyajian was twice serving for the match, once at 5-4 in the second set, once at 5-3 in the third, but Chadwell took advantage of double faults and ineffective second serves to turn the two-and-a-half hour contest, played on Court One, in his favor.
"Going into the match I knew one of his weaknesses was his second serve," said Chadwell, a rising senior from Franklin, Tenn. "So every time he missed it in the first set, I promised myself, even if he goes to my forehand, I'm going to run around it every time. He broke down and got nervous, I think, and it really helped me. If he did get a second serve in I would pound it, and he really couldn't do anything."
Chadwell, the last unseeded player in either 16s or 18s, marked last year's loss in the 16s second round, as the 22nd seed, as a turning point in his tennis.
"When I got back from this tournament I took about a month off and I didn't pick up a racquet. I was burned out. But I sat down with my coach and I said, listen, I'm ready to take it to the next level. I'm getting sick of losing early in tournaments. He started killing me, working my living butt off, and I got in shape, which lead me to winning three setters.
"My thing was I would come close with all these unbelievable players and I could never pull this through. This is actually the first match I was able to pull through. My serve's a lot better, my forehand has always been pretty good, but right now it's unbelievable, I couldn't ask for anything else. My backhand used to be a weakness, now I'm hitting winners off it on big points. Right now I'm playing great."
Chadwell's opponent in the fifth round will be No. 2 seed Chase Buchanan who obliterated No. 32 seed Frank Carleton 6-0, 6-0, and has lost only four games in three matches.
Top seed Ryan Harrison passed a severe test administered by No. 17 Kevin King, taking a tight and exceptionally well-played contest 6-4, 7-6(8). Both players were hitting with pace and depth and neither hesitated to approach the net to finish a point, executing crisp volleys and making few errors.
Number six seed Ty Trombetta survived a third set tiebreaker to defeat No. 22 seed Ryan Noble 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4). Jarmere Jenkins, the No. 9 seed, prevailed over a cramping Bo Seal, the 20th seed, 4-6, 6-4 1-0, ret. inj. Seal called for a trainer at set point in the second set, but even that treatment and a ten-minute heat break couldn't get him back in playing shape. He was given a game penalty for failing to return to the court after the break, but there were no points played in the third set.
No. 12 seed Rhyne Williams managed to overcome a six-game skid in the second set to down No. 24 seed JT Sundling 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-1. Up 5-1 in the second set, Williams didn't win a game, but after the heat break Williams again took a 5-1 lead, and this time there was no comeback.
The doubles round of 16 in the 18s featured a rematch of the 2007 16s final and the result was the same. No. 12 seeds JT Sundling and Daniel Nguyen beat Noble and Seal, the 4th seeded team, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The top four seeded teams in the 16s all advanced to the quarterfinals.
For complete results, see ustaboys.com.
For additional coverage of the Nationals, visit collegeandjuniortennis.com.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008