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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Four Sites, More Raindrops, as Junior Orange Bowl Main Draw Begins

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Coral Gables, FL--

I started out the day at the boys 12s, where a few sprinkles appeared on the windshield as I drove into Tropical Park. After yesterday's unpredicted rain, I wasn't about to take Accuweather's 0% chance of rain for today too seriously, but at least this morning, there wasn't enough precipitation to halt play.

There were a couple of players I wanted to see: Noah Rubin of New York, who has been playing 14s nationally all year; and Christian Garay of Georgia, who was a finalist this year in Little Rock at the 12s Nationals, and has been playing a combination of 12s and 14s.

Rubin went on first and had no trouble with his opponent, Florian Krueger of Germany, who was the No. 1 seed from that country. Krueger was clutching his stomach throughout the first set, and at 6-1, 2-1, he retired.

Garay was playing unseeded Tim Portnov of Canada. I saw my share of moonballs in the 12s today (more on that from the girls 12s later), but not in that match, as Garay hit the ball with impressive power. Portnov didn't play badly, but couldn't put any sustained pressure on Garay, resulting in a 6-1, 6-1 loss.

When I arrived at the University of Miami, Robert Livi of the U.S. and Martins Podzus of Latvia were in a heated battle, but without scorekeeping devices, it was difficult to tell where exactly they were in the match. Livi won a game that led to a split, I gathered, and they took a ten-minute break, which Podzus didn't quite comprehend. Podzus, a big, strong player with a lot of power, ended up taking the match 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Podzus's twin brother Janis also won his opening match.

It wasn't a good day for German seeds, as No. 4 seed Jannis Kahlke of Germany was defeated by Diego Pedraza of Columbia 6-4, 7-6(4). I had watched a few games of Harrison Richmond's 6-3, 6-3 win over Filip Obucina of Canada and a few of Reo Asami's with Rihard Rozac of Slovenia, but it began to rain, so I left hoping for drier courts a few miles to the north.

At the Biltmore Tennis Center, I managed to catch a few games of 16s Orange Bowl champion Chanelle Van Nguyen's first match in her attempt to claim a rare 16s - 14s double, but then the rain caught up with me, and I moved north six blocks to Salvadore Park, site of the girls 12s. The five new clay courts have improved the site immensely and the rain never came, so I spent the rest of the day watching some very, very long points and matches.

Julia O'Loughlin of the U.S. suffered a difficult loss to Irina Lidkovskaya of Russia. After dropping the first set 6-3, O'Loughlin evened the match, taking the second set 6-2, and had a 5-0 lead in the third. She was unable to win that last game, however, and Lidkovskaya, who sobbed regularly after losing a point, even as she was making her comeback, won the last seven games of the match.

I missed Brooke Austin, the U.S. No. 1 seed, who won her match quickly, but I did see Taylor Townsend, who finished second to Austin at both the Clays and Nationals in the 12s. The lefty from Georgia overpowered 10-year-old Mariya Shishkina of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-1.

See the TennisLink site for draws and results.


Anonymous said...

Colette, could you provide some clarity on Reo Asami's nationality? He consistenly represents the U.S., but a few people here and elsewhere have suggested that he's not a U.S. citizen. Is that true or not? Not that it's a big deal either way, but a little clarity would be nice.

Colette Lewis said...

Asami moved to the US shortly after his birth. His father needs to retain his Japanese citizenship for business reasons and Japan does not offer the option of dual citizenship. Asami would very much like to apply for U.S. citizenship but can't do that on his own until he is 18.