©Colette Lewis 2008--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
The travel gods did smile on us (the credential gods did not, but that's a story for a different time) so we made the final round of junior qualifying in time to see the end of some of the boys matches and all of the girls. Heavy rains had fallen in New York overnight, but the skies cleared midday, leaving a blazing sun and considerable humidity.
Devin Britton worked his way through qualifying for the second year in a row, and his 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 5 seed Francis Alcantara of the Phillipines was one of two quick victories for U.S. players, as wild card Beatrice Capra also earned a main draw berth with a 6-2, 6-0 blitzing of No. 6 seed Paula Ormaechea of Argentina. I saw none of Britton's win, but Capra had only to play smart, consistent tennis to beat Ormaechea, who dissolved into a puddle of unforced errors and negative body language after the first set.
I missed the exciting end to the Nathan Pasha - Harry Fowler match, won by Fowler 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(4), but I did catch the last few games of the Alex Llompart - Matt Kandath contest. I learned that Llompart had had three match points serving at 5-4 in the third set, with Kandath hitting two great returns on the first two. On the third, Llompart had a backhand pass that Kandath guessed correctly on, then stretched for a reflex volley winner.
"I had to commit," Kandath said of the instinct that led him to the right place when he needed it most. "I got lucky."
Kandath was up 3-1 in the second set, lost seven games in a row, and was down break point trailing 1-3 in the third. But he fought back, and in the tiebreaker that decided the match hit winner after winner: a service winner, an ace, a volley, a drop shop-lob combination. After that last point, his seventh, Kandath let out a roar, both hands at his sides.
The 16-year-old from upstate New York didn't know until Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. that he had gotten a wild card into qualifying and had a 10 a.m. match the next morning, but said he played extremely well in that opening match and it carried over into Saturday's encounter with Llompart, where he said he was "lacing" the lines in the first set.
Bo Seal, who lost his match to Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in three sets (the draw score is incorrect) made the main draw as a lucky loser, giving the U.S. four male players in the main draw from qualifying.
In the girls qualifying, long matches were again the rule, with three of them going the distance. Alexa Guarachi dropped a 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 decision to Monika Tumova of the Czech Republic, and Allie Will and Lauren McHale also had a long roller coaster match. McHale was up a set and a break at 6-3, 4-3, but then lost four games in a row, before stopping the skid at 1-1 in the third. Will never held serve again after that hold in the first game however, and untimely double faults ultimately proved her undoing.
The final spot in qualifying was still undecided at 5 p.m., when the player meeting was scheduled to begin, with Brooke Bolender and Bistra Otashliyska of Bulgaria fighting out the third set. Bolender lost the first set 6-4, but began to find her rhythm in the second set, taking a 4-1, two-break lead, losing it, but winning the final two games to take the set 7-5. Bolender fell behind 3-0 in the third set, and was down 0-40 serving in the fourth game, but she battled back, and the rail-thin Otashliyska knew then that the final set would not be easy. Bolender got the break back to make it 4-3, and at the changeover, the Bulgarian got her left ankle re-wrapped. In the next game, Bolender had two ads to pull even, but she couldn't convert either, and although she again broke Otashliyska, to make it 5-4, Bolender got down 0-40 on her own serve. Two shaky forehands by Otashliyska gave Bolender hope, but at 30-40, she sent a forehand long, sending the Bulgarian on to the main draw.
In years past, my husband has been taking photographs of all the U.S. players and posting them to ustaboys.com, but credential problems have made that much more difficult this year. I will try to post more photos on zootennis, probably via a slide show, than I have in previous years, but do check out ustaboys.com for photos beginning Sunday.
For additional coverage, see Marcia Frost's collegeandjuniortennis.com.
For complete qualifying draws, click here. For Sunday's schedule, see usopen.org.
Saturday, August 30, 2008