©Colette Lewis 2008--
No. 10 seed Beatrice Capra avenged her loss in this year's 18 Clay Court finals, downing No. 2 seed Lauren Embree 6-4, 6-1 in the most compelling match of the singles semifinals at the ITF Grade B1 Pan-American Championships.
Capra and Embree played four games in the late stages of the first set that were as fiercely contested as they were high in quality. After taking a 3-0 lead to open the match, Capra was in danger of losing her fourth straight game after her 40-0 lead melted away when she was serving at 3-3. Embree won four straight points but could convert on neither of the break points she earned, and Capra took a 4-3 lead with a rare ace.
The six deuce game that followed was filled with punishing groundstrokes, swinging volleys, confident overheads and multiple twenty-stroke rallies, with neither player showing any signs of fatigue or nerves. Embree held for 4-4 and yet another deuce game followed, when Capra dug herself out of a 15-40 hole to take a 5-4 lead. But given the duration of the three previous games, the set ended quickly, with Embree broken after only one deuce, when she made a rare unforced forehand error on Capra's first set point.
Embree was broken at love in the second game of the second set, and although she had two chances to get it back in Capra's next service game, she couldn't seize either opportunity. Capra took a 4-0 lead with yet another break, her fourth straight, and was able to close out the always tenacious Floridian three games later.
"I felt like I was playing a lot more agressive than I was at the Clay Courts, handling her ball a lot better" said Capra, who lost 6-4, 6-2, on a Memphis Sunday as hot and hazy as the Tulsa Friday was crisp and blue. "On clay, she can run down anything, it's like playing a ball machine kind of. On hard courts, I was able to hit a lot more winners."
One of Capra's most effective shots was her overhead, and even though she missed a few, it was important for her to keep Embree on the defensive.
"I was focusing on what I needed to do, attacking the ball," said the 16-year-old Capra, from Ellicott City, Maryland. "I knew if I kept doing that, I was going to be fine. Either way, if I won or lost, it was okay, because I'm improving my game."
Neither Capra nor her opponent in the finals, No. 1 seed Pamela Montez of Mexico, has lost a set in the tournament, but Montez, who easily handled No. 6 seed Sachia Vickery 6-2, 6-1, isn't entirely satisfied with her play this week.
"I've been playing okay, better as the tournament goes along," said Montez, who said she wasn't aware just how young the 13-year-old Vickery was. "I was just more consistent than her, and that was pretty much the main thing, keeping the ball in play."
Vickery again struggled with her serve and even her court speed failed to produce any errors from Montez. The drop shot that Montez has displayed this week would normally not be considered a great tactic against Vickery, but the young Floridian couldn't do anything creative with the ball when she got to it, making errors when retrieving that seemed to spill over into her usually lethal ground game.
Errors also played a major role in No. 4 seed Ryan Lipman's 6-1, 6-0 rout of No. 11 seed Denis Kudla, but not many of them were Lipman's. Kudla failed to hold his serve even once in the first set, while becoming increasingly frustrated by Lipman's high standard of play.
"I think I got under his skin a little bit with the way I played," said Lipman, who needed less than an hour to dispose of the Junior Davis Cup hero and Kalamazoo 16s finalist. "And then he just kind of didn't know what to do, he just kind of fell apart, which helped me a lot."
No. 12 seed Alex Domijan also breezed through his first set with qualifier JT Sundling, jumping out to a 5-1 lead in a matter of minutes. After losing the first set 6-2, Sundling was broken the first two times he served in the second, falling behind 3-0, but he got back in the set with a break of Domijan, at love, in the next game. After holding for 3-2, Sundling had a chance to put pressure on the 6-foot-6 Floridian, but he couldn't sustain any momentum.
"In the second set he started changing and coming into the net," said Domijan, who will play in his second Grade 1 final on Saturday. "He had me at 3-2, it was 0-15, and he kind of fell back a little bit, I thought."
Domijan won the next four points and broke Sundling for the fifth time in the match to take the second set 6-3.
Lipman and Domijan have not played in over three years, but they are well aware of what to expect from each other.
"I imagine he's going to slice everything because I'm so tall" said Domijan. "But if I can handle that, I think I can do pretty well."
"They'll be a pretty good bit of slicing going on," Lipman agreed. "I'll try to mix it up. He does really well side to side, but I don't know how well he does up and back. So we'll find out tomorrow."
Capra and Montez have never played. "I've never even heard of her," said Capra. "I'm just going to wing it tomorrow."
The doubles titles will be decided Saturday, with the top two seeds in the boys reaching the final. Both needed tiebreakers to get there, however; No. 1 Matt Kandath and Lipman won the last four points of their tiebreaker to take a 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 decision from unseeded Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Nathan Pasha, while No. 2 seeds Jordan Cox and Evan King stopped No. 4 seeds Mauricio Astorga and Jose Gerardo Meza Paniagua of Mexico 6-1, 2-6, 10-2.
No. 2 seeds Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Montez barely survived the unseeded pairing of Ester Goldfeld and Ellen Tsay 6-4, 4-6, 11-9. After trailing 8-5 in the tiebreaker, Gaytan-Leach and Montez won the next four points, but Tsay saved the first match point with a forehand winner in the alley. At 9-9, Montez broke a string early in the point, and Tsay and Goldfeld each hit a shot to her, but Montez somehow controlled two touch volleys to earn her team a second match point, which they converted when Goldfeld netted a backhand. Gaytan-Leach and Montez will face No. 6 seeds Jessica Alexander and Embree, who dispatched No. 7 seeds Kate Fuller and Monica Yajima 6-2, 6-1.
For complete results, visit the TennisLink site.
Friday, October 17, 2008