©Colette Lewis 2008--
If I were asked to name the Junior Tennis Upset of the Year, Nicole Bartnik's 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win Wednesday over Laura Robson in the second round of the Eddie Herr would get my vote. Robson, the Wimbledon girls champion, who has reached No. 508 in the WTA rankings in only five tournaments since winning her home country's junior slam, was an overwhelming favorite to take her third straight Eddie Herr title, but the top seed never found any rhythm, even when she leveled the match by taking the second set.
Despite the massive expectations created by her recent success and her poor play, Robson didn't lose her composure, although when she was down 4-0 in the third set and yet another of her shots caught the tape, she did yell out "I can't play any worse."
Robson did break Bartnik when the 17-year-old Bollettieri student was serving at 4-0 in the third, but Bartnik broke right back, and had no difficulty securing the victory with a love game, which included an ace on match point.
"I've had some bad experiences with 4-0 leads in the third set," Bartnik admitted. "Usually I tell myself you've done this before, don't do it again. But this time I just cleared my mind--I had nothing going through it."
Bartnik, who had lost to Robson this spring in the ITF Italian Junior Open Grade A, kept her mind away from the past, except when it meant recalling Robson's vulnerabilities.
"I just remembered that her backhand was making a little bit more errors, so I just tried to get it to there, and it worked," said Bartnik, who showed little emotion after her stunning upset. "Maybe it was because in the last game, she made all the errors and I didn't want to pump in her face. But I've played (ITF) Top Ten players a lot, and sometimes I lose to players that are really good, but I know I'm right there with them, so this just was a result I knew I could have."
Although not of the magnitude of the Bartnik win over Robson, the boys 18s also saw a significant upset in second round action, with unseeded Texas A & M recruit Artem Ilyushin of Russia dominating No. 2 seed and Yucatan Cup champion Guillaume Rufin of France 6-3, 6-2. No. 3 Jose Pereira of Brazil, who edged Christian Harrison in a memorable first round match, had nothing left for his second round encounter, and lost 6-0, 6-4 to Justin Eleveld of the Netherlands.
Evan King and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia engaged in an entertaining contest that ended with Basilashvili countering two excellent volleys by King with even better passing shots to take two crucial points, including the last one, in his 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory. Basilashivili will meet Jordan Cox, who is one of 7 U.S. players in the round of 16, including five in the bottom half.
Five U.S. girls remain after two rounds in the 18s singles. In addition to Bartnik, Annie Mulholland, Lauren Embree and Beatrice Capra advanced on Wednesday, along with wild card Alexandra Cercone, who upset No. 10 seed Hanna Orlik of Belarus 6-3, 6-3.
The U.S. hope for a 12s title is left to the unseeded 10-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Florida, who eliminated Deiton Baughman of California 6-1, 6-2 in Wednesday's quarterfinals. Kozlov's semifinal opponent is unseeded Geonji Shin, one of two Koreans to make the final four. The other, Hyeon Chung, a No. 1 seed, will face Australia's No. 1 seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis, who breezed past Timothy Kane of the U.S. 6-1, 6-0.
Alexandria Stiteler, a No. 1 seed and the only U.S. girl to make the 12s quarterfinals, lost to unseeded Estelle Cascino of France 6-3, 7-6(6). Cascino's semifinal opponent is Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador. In the top half, it will be Simone Pratt of the Bahamas against Ksenia Laskutova of Russia. Pratt is the only seed to reach the semifinals.
In the boys 16s, qualifier Luis Patino of Mexico upset No. 2 seed Yaroslav Shyla of Belarus 6-4, 6-4, but the real story is the dominance of the British boys, who have taken nine of the final 16 spots in the draw.
For complete draws, see the tennisinformation site, and visit eddieherr.com for additional photos.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008