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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Britton Signs with Octagon; Six Americans Reach Wimbledon Juniors Third Round

Devin Britton, the 2009 NCAA champion as a freshman at Ole Miss, will not be returning to college tennis this fall. In a story that Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim first broke on Twitter earlier today, the 18-year-old has signed with Octagon, the sports management company. Wertheim, who is at Wimbledon, has reported that Britton has been a very hot prospect this week, with agents flocking to his matches. Octagon has been the front-runner, however, playing close attention to Britton since his appearance in the final of last year's US Open Juniors, and was able to parlay that early interest into a contract to represent him.

In on-court action today at Wimbledon, Britton defeated New Zealand's Sebastian Lavie, who was also unseeded, 6-4, 7-5. Britton had 38 winners, 22 of them aces, and only ten unforced errors. Radio Wimbledon's Guy McCrea said Britton's volleys were in good order, then passed along this observation: "Tough opponent who gave him a tough match and passed him a few times, but you always felt Britton still had another gear to go if needed, which wasn't."

McCrea said that the best junior match he saw today was Britton's doubles partner Jordan Cox's win over No. 12 seed David Souto of Venezuela. He emailed me that, "Cox seems happy to trade from the back and almost lure the opponent to the net so as to try and pass them (e.g. he produced a super forehand pass to win the opening set.) Souto is a good leftie player though and a fair few of the games went to deuce or were tight." Cox, a qualifier, prevailed 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 and faces the only other qualifier still alive in the boys singles draw, Andre Vasilevski of Belarus.

Also advancing in the top half of the draw, in addition to Britton and Cox, is unseeded Alex Domijan, who defeated No. 14 seed Cheng Peng Hsieh of Chinese Taipei 6-2, 6-3. Hsieh had earlier in the day defeated U.S. qualifier Bob van Overbeek 4-6, 7-6(3), 13-11, in a first round match that was tied at 9-9 when it was suspended on Monday night, but didn't make much of an impression on the big Floridian. Domijan's next challenge will be top seed Daniel Berta of Sweden, the French boys champion, who made short work of British qualifier David Thomson 6-3, 6-1.

Harry Fowler had another long three-setter on Tuesday, but again fought through it, taking out wild card Ashley Hewitt of Great Britain 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Hewitt had fashioned the only big upset of the first two rounds when he beat No. 2 seed Liang-Chi Huang of Chinese Taipei on Saturday.

McCrea also looked in on the two U.S. girls who won second round matches Tuesday, Beatrice Capra and Sloane Stephens. Capra was down 4-2 in the first set tiebreaker against Tamara Curovic of Serbia but won the next five points and took control of the match there, posting a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory. McCrea called Capra's style of play "tremendously committed" and I think that describes very well her determination to get every ball back in play. The seventh-seeded Stephens, the only seeded American still alive, defeated lucky loser Angelique Van Der Meet 6-3, 6-1. Van Der Meet received entry when wild card Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan was a late withdrawal and won her first round match, but Stephens had no difficulty getting through.

McCrea didn't think Stephens was particularly sharp in the match, but has no doubt that she can contend for the title. One more win for her and for top seed Kristina Mladenovic of France and there will be a quarterfinal rematch of their French Junior semifinal just a few weeks ago. Mladenovic had no trouble with 14-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery of the U.S., posting a 6-1, 6-3 win Tuesday.

No. 15 seed Tennys Sandgren suffered a tough 3-6, 7-6(10), 6-4 loss to Filip Horansky of Slovakia Tuesday, wasting three match points in that lengthy tiebreaker. He was broken at 3-all in the third set and Horansky made that advantage stand up.

Approximately half of the first round of doubles were played Tuesday, and all the U.S. juniors who competed advanced to the second round. For complete draws, see wimbledon.org.

For more on Britton and Fowler's wins, see the ITF junior website.




Austin said...

Americans still have a chance to win every division at Wimbledon this year. The only divisions in which we cant win it outright is in Mixed Doubles and Girls Doubles where our Americans are playing with someone from another country. Pretty impressive to say heading into the second Thursday of the tournament.