©Colette Lewis 2008--
With 30 courts active during any given point in the day, it's difficult to know what to focus on in the early stages of the Eddie Herr.
Saturday, another clear and pleasant day, started with the 14s qualifying, and I watched a few games of Alexander Ritschard of the U.S play Alex Koshetov of Canada. Ritschard, whom I'd seen play last year at the Plaza Cup, has the ability to hit outright winners, which is rather rare in the 14s, and except for a brief lapse early in the second set, when he fell behind 2-0, he was on target this morning. With his 6-1 6-3 win, he joins Alexander Saltiel, Austin Robles, Juan Moreiras, Sebastian Acuna and Daniel Sun of the U.S. in the final round of qualifying on Sunday.
The 12s always features a large quantity of 6-0, 6-0 results in the first few rounds, and today was no exception. I watched a game or two of Deiton Baughman's 6-1, 6-2 win over Juan Visono of the Dominican Republic and a couple in Alecia Black's 6-1, 6-1 win over Valeria Deronjic, but the compelling match of day eventually revealed itself.
Bollettieri's latest find, 10-year-old Mariya Shishkina of Kazakhstan was given the prime showcase for her first round match against Alizee Michaud of France, Nick's "Stadium" court. It features names of Bollettieri-coached professionals and wind screens with Nick's signature writ large, but all those trappings faded into the background as the match took shape, and after 3 and 1/2 hours, Shishkina won it 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(2).
Michaud is considerably bigger than Shishkina, but there was obviously very little difference in their ability to hit the ball. When I arrived late in the second set, Michaud was serving for the set at 5-4, but was broken. Shishkina immediately lost her serve, double faulting at 30-40, but Michaud again failed to convert that opportunity. There was a referee on the court after several disputed calls earlier, but there was only one overrule in the final few games of the set and in the tiebreaker, there was no controversy. Michaud ran out to a 6-1 lead, and the very composed Shishkina betrayed no emotion, won the next two points, then pushed a forehand wide to give Michaud the second set.
By that time, the match was 2 and 1/2 hours long, and I didn't stay for the obviously dramatic ending. While I was watching, a crowd of 50 or 60 gathered and excitement surrounding Shishkina's Eddie Herr debut was obvious. She was impressive in her ability to find difficult angles, to approach the net, and to take the ball early, minimizing her size disadvantage. Her wild errors were also abundant, but they rarely bothered her for more than a second or two, a trait that will help her as she negotiates all the twists and turns that lie ahead.
The 18s qualifying first round started late in the afternoon and continued on under the lights, again past 9:00 p.m. Ryan Cheung, Frank Carleton, Sekou Bangoura Jr., Kyle McMorrow, David Holiner, Junior Ore, Ridley Seguso, and Denis Lin were U.S. players advancing to the second round in the boys draw. U.S. girls winning their first matches were Kayla Rizzolo, C.C. Sardinha, Jessica Stiles, Lauren Herring, Maria Belaya, Kara Kucin, Ellen Tsay, Courtney Dolehide and Malika Rose.
For complete results, see eddieherr.com.
Saturday, November 29, 2008