©Colette Lewis 2009--
When Thursday morning dawned, clear and summer-like, but not humid, 32 girls still had hopes of a gold ball representing a National title at the Girls 18s Clay Courts. Thirteen hours later, only eight of them still have a chance at the title, and No. 1 seed Lilly Kimbell isn't one of them.
Kimbell's fourth round match had gone to plan, as she easily dismissed No. 17 seed Jacqueline Kasler 6-0, 6-2, but the late afternoon round of 16 encounter with Nida Hamilton, also a 17 seed, was a hurdle she couldn't overcome, with Hamilton taking a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 decision.
Hamilton had the more difficult opening match, needing three sets to dispose of unseeded Jojo Sanford, but she had Wednesday off, because she was one of the few to complete her third round on Tuesday before the rains came, and she said that "little rest" helped her.
"Both the people I played today were really tough," Hamilton said. "We had long points, and long matches, and I just got one more ball in than they did. I had to grind a lot."
In the final set, Hamilton was down 3-1, but won the final five games of the match. Serving at 3-4, Kimbell played a nervous game and three balls into the net proved her undoing. Hamilton took a 40-0 lead serving for the match, but she thought back to May's National Open, when she had suffered a quarterfinal lost to Kimbell, splitting tiebreakers before losing the third set 6-2.
"I had two match points in the second set, but I couldn't turn them in," recalled Hamilton, an Illinois native who has verbally committed to play for the Northwestern Wildcats in 2010. "So when I got my match points, I had to try really hard not to blow it."
On Hamilton's first opportunity to finish the upset, Kimbell hit a gutsy drop shot winner, but Hamilton kept her nerve in a long rally at 40-15, and when Kimbell's backhand found the net, Hamilton had reached her first National Championship quarterfinal.
She will play No. 6 seed Alexandra Anghelescu, who had a pair of 6-3, 6-3 wins Thursday, the second over No. 10 seed Maria Belaya, the first over Samantha Critser, a 17 seed.
Danielle Collins, the fourth seed, battled past two unseeded players to reach the quarterfinals, taking down local favorite Catherine Harrison 7-6(4), 6-3 in the morning, and fellow Floridian Bianca Sanon 7-5, 7-6(6) in the afternoon. Collins will play Gabriella De Simone, a No. 17 seed, who survived No. 12 seed Alexandra Clay 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(2) and unseeded Katie Goepel 6-1, 6-4 to advance.
An unseeded semifinalist is assured as Nicole Melichar and Krista Hardebeck will meet in the quarterfinals. Melichar, who turns 16 next week, has yet to drop a set in the tournament, and today beat unseeded Mia Lancaster 6-3, 6-4 and No. 17 seed Monica Turewicz 6-0, 6-2. Hardebeck took out unseeded Hanna Yu in her opening match 7-5, 6-3, but the 14-year-old got off to a horrible start against No. 17 seed Whitney Kay this afternoon, falling behind 4-0. Saying that she played as badly in those four games as she had in her second set against No. 3 seed Blair Seideman, which she lost 6-0, Hardebeck recovered in time to win a tiebreaker. Kay won the second set, but Hardebeck found her range in the third to take a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1 win.
The third unseeded player in the quarterfinals is Arianna Colffer, who took out two seeds on Thursday, No. 14 Anna Mamalat 6-4, 6-2, and No. 17 seed Lacey Smyth 7-5, 6-2. Colffer will play No. 2 seed Ellen Tsay, who battled No. 9 seed Mary Clayton for over three and a half hours before finally coming away with a 7-5, 6-7(1), 6-3 victory under the lights at the Racquet Club of Memphis. Tsay stretched her legs after nearly every point in an attempt to keep the cramps at bay, but she fought off the powerful Clayton ground strokes to earn her spot in the quarterfinals.
Most of the doubles round of 16 matches were still underway when I left at 9 p.m., so please visit the TennisLink site for those results.
Thursday, July 23, 2009