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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Top Seed Rus Upset in First Round; Seven U.S. Wild Cards Advance to Second Round

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

It started with Christian Harrison, it ended with Kristie Ahn, and in between, top seed and world No. 1 Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands exited, making for a long and eventful day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Fourteen-year-old wild card Christian Harrison kicked off the warm and cloudless day, drawing a huge crowd to court 7. Former champion and current commentator John McEnroe has been hitting regularly with Harrison and his interest brought hundreds of curious fans. There was a long delay however, as Harrison's opponent, who was scheduled to be No. 16 seed Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia, did not answer the call to court, and eventually Alex Llompart, who was the next lucky loser in the ordering, took Kuznetsov's place.

Llompart, from Puerto Rico, trains at Newcombe's Academy with Harrison and the frequent practice partners found themselves playing for much higher stakes Sunday morning. Llompart took the first set 6-4, Harrison came back to take the second set 6-3, much to the delight of the crowd, who were decidedly favoring the freckled 5-foot right-hander. Neither player was hitting with the pace that distinguished most of the surrounding matches, but there were plenty of exciting points throughout, with Llompart holding on to his early break in the third set to take it 6-3.

Llompart will face Boys 16s National champion Jordan Cox, who found himself in the same circumstance as Harrison, waiting on the court for an opponent who didn't show. Scheduled to play Cristobal Saavedra Corvalan of Chile, Cox ended up facing lucky loser Yannick Reuter of Belgium, but unlike Harrison, Cox pulled out the win, serving well to take it 6-4, 7-6(7). Alex Domijan came back from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to defeat Kittipong Wachiramanowong of Thailand 7-6(3), 6-4 and Chase Buchanan also came from a break down in both sets to advance past Mikhail Biryukov of Russia 6-4, 6-2. Ty Trombetta and Rhyne Williams completed the list of U.S. winners on the boys side. Wild card Denis Kudla lost a well-played marathon with Yuki Bhambri of India, the 12th seed, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

Jarmere Jenkins was playing beautifully against Flilip Krajinovic and was so frustrating the 16-year-old Serbian that he engaged in a constant monologue in Serbian and abused his racquet to the point of a warning from the chair umpire. But up 7-6(5), 3-0, Jenkins won only one more game, and retired trailing 4-0 in the third after experiencing cramping.

The big news in the girls side was the complete collapse of Rus, who was stunned by unseeded 16-year-old Viktoria Kamenskaya of Russia 6-4, 6-1. Rus could not find the court with her usually effective forehand, and her left-handed serve was also erratic, and the early-arriving night session crowd that had gathered to see her would have been hard-pressed to pick out the No. 1 seed by the quality of her play. Kamenskaya was elated with her victory, even though there were a few tense moments when she frittered away two match points serving for it up 5-1, 40-15.

"I was very nervous," said Kamenskaya, ranked 45th in the ITF juniors. "But I tell myself I do it, I must do it, and I served good. The last point it was (the) sun, and I can't see the ball and I just close my eyes and play, and I won it."

Rus certainly helped Kamenskaya, hitting two forehands into the net on the last two points, but the result was all that mattered to the Russian, who won the Junior Orange Bowl in 2005.

"I am so happy. She is No. 1 in the world and I beat her. I am so, so happy."

There were also two lucky losers who gained entry on the girls side, with Alexa Guarachi gaining entry in place of Russian Valeria Solovieva, and Janina Toljan taking the place of Australian Jessica Moore, who was seeded No. 4 due to her WTA ranking. Both lost, with Toljan being blown out by wild card Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-1, and Guarachi losing to Zsofia Susanyi of Hungary 7-5, 7-5.

Wild card Christina McHale looked very sharp in her 6-3, 6-4 win over Japan's Misaki Doi. McHale served very well, pounded her forehand and made almost no errors in the games I watched. Madison Brengle, who just missed being seeded due to her WTA ranking, cruised past No. 10 seed Cindy Chala of France 6-2, 6-2, and said afterwards that she was just fine with her unseeded status. Having come into last year's Junior U.S. Open with two junior Grand Slam finals on her resume, she felt the pressure of expectations and failed to win a match in singles or doubles, so being a bit under the radar proved more comfortable for her.

Wild card Asia Muhammad also took out a seed, downing No. 14 Johanna Konta of Australia 6-3, 6-1. Kristie Ahn closed out the evening, winning over Milana Spremo of Serbia 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 despite a balky backhand. The final set featured six straight breaks of serve, but Ahn got the final one to get through.

National 16s champion Lauren Davis fell to Aija Tomljanovic of Croatia 6-3, 6-2 and wild card Julia Boserup lost to Nastassja Burnett of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Second round singles action continues on Monday, and doubles play begins as well.
For complete results, see usopen.org.

For additional coverage, visit collegeandjuniortennis.com.


Anonymous said...

It's unbelievable how many times Jenkins has succumbed to cramping. He's going to have to find a way to prevent that if he's to have a career in tennis. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for him.