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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Seeds Advance in Boys 14s; Van Nguyen Upset in Girls 14s Play at Junior Orange Bowl

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

I concentrated on the 14s today, splitting my time equally between the boys at the University of Miami and the girls at the Biltmore Tennis Center.

Not having seen top seed Moos Sporken of the Netherlands play since the 12s, I was eager to see what he'd added to his game. Sporken finished the year as the European 14-and-under champion, and in today's second round 6-2, 6-3 win over Alp Horoz of Turkey, Sporken had too big a serve and too much power for the qualifier. I watched some of Eddie Herr champion Alex Halebian's match with with Erik Johnsson of Sweden, and Johnsson gave Halebian a test with his strong serving, but Halebian broke late in an extremely close first set and went on to a 7-5, 6-2 victory. Halebian, a 17 seed, and Harrison Richmond, a 9 seed, will meet Friday in a rematch of their extremely competitive Eddie Herr semifinal. Richmond beat Or Ram of Israel 6-2, 6-1 in Thursday's second round.

No. 3 Tyler Gardiner, the highest seed from the U.S., lost to Mateo Martinez of Argentina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, but there were six other U.S. players in addition to Halebian and Richmond to advance to the round of 32: Sean Karl, Reo Asami (9), Roy Lederman, Mitchell Krueger(17), Trey Strobel(6), and qualifier Alex Ritschard.

I didn't stay to see the No. 2 seed, who, in something of a Brazilian tradition, is known by two different surnames in the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl. Last year, it was Jose Pereira of Brazil, who was known as Jose Silva when he competed at the Eddie Herr. This year it is Eddie Herr finalist Pedro Guimaraes, who is Pedro Dumont in the Junior Orange Bowl draw. He came back to defeat Conrad Harron of the U.S. 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2.

By that time I had made my way to the Biltmore Tennis Center specifically to see No. 3 seed Kyle McPhillips take on Eddie Herr 14s finalist Nadia Echeverria Alam. They were running a hour or two behind, however, so I watched most of the match between Orange Bowl 16s champion Chanelle Van Nguyen and qualifier So Ra Lee of Korea.

Just from the warmup I could tell that Lee was going to provide stiff competition for the 17th seeded Van Nguyen. Lee, a left-hander, displayed great power, keeping Van Nguyen on the defensive while she snapped off one forehand winner after another. Van Nguyen started to work her way into the match after trailing 4-1, getting one of the two breaks back, but Lee served out the first set at 6-4. The Korean continued to play brilliantly in the second set, and again she was called on to serve out the set (and match). At 30-30, Lee put away a short ball on the forehand side, and on her first match point, she fittingly rifled a forehand winner down the line to claim the match, 6-4, 6-4.

In the meantime, McPhillips and Echeverria Alam had gotten half way through their first set, but at 3-3 McPhillips took control and won nine of the next ten games for a 6-3, 6-1 win.

It wasn't quite as easy as the score looked however. Echeverria hits hard and deep, but she is less consistent than McPhillips, who can deflect pace and break rhythm. On successive points in the second set, she brought Echeverria Alam to the net with good drop shots, then placed perfect lobs over her head.

At 5-0, McPhillips surrendered her serve after saving four break points, and Echeverria Alam, who stayed positive and upbeat despite the score, came through with some inspired shotmaking to take that game. But the relentless pressure of tracking down the moonballs and the angles and the drop shots finally wore down Echeverria Alam, sending her to the consolation tournament.

The anticipated round of 16 meeting between Sachia Vickery and Eugenie Bouchard will not take place, as Bouchard had an injury to her knee and withdrew before yesterday's first round. Vickery, who rolled past No. 17 seed Joanna Henderson of Great Britain 6-1, 6-4, will play Tristen Dewar in the third round.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.