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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Three-Setters Rare at International Spring Championships

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Carson, CA--

There weren't many close matches as the 18s singles first round was completed Tuesday at the International Spring Championships. The only girls seed to fall was No. 13 Monica Puig, who went out to Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-4, with No. 2 seed Beatrice Capra and No. 3 seed Valeria Solovieva of Russia getting routine wins. There were a couple of long matches: wild card Belinda Niu's 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win over qualifier Kayla Rizzolo, qualifier Maria Belaya's 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory over last week's champion in College Station Nicole Melichar, but I didn't see either of those. One I did see was 13-year-old wild card Vicky Duval's 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over qualifier Lorraine Guillermo, a match that lasted nearly three hours.

Duval, who is playing in only her second ITF event, and her first Grade 1, avoided needing to win a tiebreaker to extend the match when she broke the 15-year-old from Southern California at 5-6 in the second set. Guillermo, who hits a two-handed forehand, has the velocity and disguise that typically accompanies that shot. She was able to hit clean winners on occasion, but her first serve percentage was low and Duval was eager to pounce on Guillermo's second serve. After losing the second set, Guillermo fell behind 3-0 in the third, but she held, broke and held to get even, with Duval making errors as she tried to force the action.

At 4-4, Duval faced three break points, but she won all three, or rather didn't lose them, as Guillermo made two errors sandwiched around one forehand winner by Duval. The error on the third break point was especially damaging, as Guillermo had weak second serve to take a cut at, but she missed it badly and Duval won the next two points to hold.

In the final game, Duval used two clever cross court angles to take a 0-30 lead. Guillermo won the next point on a Duval return error, but Guillermo put a forehand in the net to give Duval two match points. Duval couldn't get her forehand over the net on the first one, but Guillermo's backhand found the net on the second to give Duval her first ITF Grade 1 victory.

In the boys 18s, all seeds advanced, with No. 3 seed Harry Fowler, the only top 8 seed to play Tuesday, cruising past Mico Santiago 6-0, 6-1. The only three-set match was won by Max Stevens who beat qualifier Warren Hardie 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

The results of second round action in the 16s also produced few surprises. Girls top seeds Breauanna Addison and Caitlyn Williams reached the third round with straight-set victories, although No. 4 seed Riko Shimizu was forced to retire in her match with Emily McNall after losing the first set 6-3.

Most of the upsets in the boys 16s occurred Monday night, when No. 3 seed Trey Strobel and No. 5 seed Michael Chamerski were eliminated, but No. 12 seed Johnny Wang was in trouble Tuesday afternoon against 14s Eddie Herr champion Alexios Halebian, down two breaks in the final set. Wang, another Southern Californian with a two-handed forehand, got one of the breaks back, but Halebian was serving for the match at 5-4. The 14-year-old left-hander never got to match point however, getting down 15-40, pulling it back to deuce, but losing the next two points to give Wang the game. Wang, who turns 16 next week, actually won eight points in a row in that critical stretch, holding at love and then getting Halebian in a 0-30 hole. Halebian got it to 30-30 but at 30-40 Wang blistered a forehand winner to earn a spot in the third round, where he'll meet yet another Southern Californian, Reo Asami.

The first round of doubles in both divisions was being played this evening, and although it was not finished when we left for the day, top seeds in the girls 18s, Lauren Embree and Kate Fuller, were safely through to round two, as were boys 18s top seeds Harry Fowler and Bo Seal.

For the ISC TennisLink site, click here. For the USTA ITF page, click here.