©Colette Lewis 2008--
Because I was working on November's Aces for posting Thursday at Tennis Recruiting Network, I was late arriving at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy, but when I walked in I encountered several girls in tears, which is never a good sign. Due to a mixup caused by similar sounding names, Malika Rose and Lauren Herring of the U.S. and Nadezda Guskova and Aminat Kushkkova of Russia played their girls 18s final qualifying matches against the wrong opponents. When Kushkhova came in to report her victory over Rose, when she was actually supposed to have played Herring, the error was discovered, but by that time, Herring had just beaten Guskova.
After consultation with the ITF, the original matches were reinstated for late Monday afternoon, and Guskova, the No. 2 seed, defeated Rose 6-2, 6-2. Kushkhova and Herring were moved to a lighted court midway through their match, and Kushkhova, the No. 3 seed, ended up securing a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 victory. Fortunately, there were two lucky loser slots available in the main draw and Herring received one of them, although how fresh all three girls will be for Tuesday morning's main draw matches remains to be seen.
I spent most of the afternoon behind the desk of the scoring table, so I saw a lot of players, but not much tennis. The weather had cleared overnight and the predicted high winds did not materialize, so the only snag in the proceedings was trying to catch up in scheduling all the matches postponed due to Sunday's rain.
The 12s have stayed on schedule and are now down the final 16. The U.S. has only one hope remaining, Alexandria Stiteler, a No. 1 seed, in the girls division, while there are seven U.S. boys still vying for the title, six of them unseeded. At least one is sure to be eliminated Tuesday when Carter Lin faces Timothy Kane. Julian Zlobinsky, Stefan Kozlov, Deighton Baughman and Artemie Amari, all unseeded, are joined by David Crisovan, the sole U.S. No. 1 seed to advance.
I did manage to see most of one match when things quieted down in the evening, with TJ Pura of the U.S. taking on Pacheco Cornejo of Peru in the opening round of boys 14 singles. Pura had taken the first set 6-2, when I arrived, but Cornejo fought back to take the second set 6-2. The second game of the third set was a marathon, one of several 15 minute games in the match, and Cornejo finally held his serve for 1-1. Pura then played a very loose game, losing serve at love, but it didn't prove fatal. Cornejo was serving at 4-3, and by this time all the other matches being contested under the lights were completed. Another exceeding long game ensued, but Cornejo lost this one, and at 4-4, it began to rain lightly, just enough to make the footing dangerous.
The match was moved indoors, with both players holding serve for 5-5. Pura took a 6-5 lead and after two unforced errors by Cornejo, Pura played a very aggressive point to give himself three match points. Although there were a dozen or so spectators, the viewing is such that it is difficult to see the lines, so when Pura hit a winner that caught the sideline, there was no immediate reaction until Pura himself gave the fist pump of victory, ending another long day at the Eddie Herr at 9 p.m.
The 18s and 16s main draw begins on Tuesday. Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Junior Ore are the two U.S. boys qualifying; C.C. Sardinha, Maria Belaya and Courtney Dolehide from the U.S. will join Herring in the main draw.
For complete draws and results, see eddieherr.com.
Monday, December 1, 2008