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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hardebeck Upsets Seideman in Third Round at Girls 18s Clay Courts


©Colette Lewis 2009--
Memphis, TN--

The effects of Tuesday's heavy rains were still being felt Wednesday at the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts, and the scrambled schedule meant there was a great deal going on at all three sites, including the Racquet Club of Memphis, where I spent the afternoon and early evening.

There were 25 third round matches that hadn't finished when Tuesday's mid-afternoon deluge began, and it was nearly 24 hours later when the majority of the courts were finally playable. A round of consolation matches began, some of them indoors, around 11 a.m., with main draw following a couple of hours later.

Opening the main draw action were unseeded Jojo Sanford and No. 13 seed Mary Anne MacFarlane, and when it started, the match looked like it wouldn't last long. MacFarlane won the first set 6-0, playing nearly perfect tennis, while Sanford wasn't keeping the ball in play. But the second set was exactly the opposite of the first, and it didn't take long to turn in Sanford's direction, as she had a 3-0 two-break lead in the second set, and went on to win it 6-2. MacFarlane started to make more errors, and when she did get the ball into the court, it was often too short to pose any problems for Sanford. A close third set seemed inevitable after two lopsided sets, and that's what developed. McFarlane was broken at 4-4, but despite match points (there was no umpire, so it was difficult to tell from two courts away just what the score was in every game) in the next game, Sanford couldn't finish it. It ended in a tiebreaker, with Sanford taking it 8 points to 6.

On the stadium court, No. 6 seed Alexandra Anghelescu was in trouble against unseeded Sonja Meighan, dropping the opening set 6-4. The level of play was extremely high in that first set, with Meighan having no difficulty handling the pace. Errors were few, winners plentiful, with the sidelines and baselines getting smacked with regularity. Meighan looked as if she might be on her way to a straight-set upset, but she was broken serving at 4-5 in the second, and after that she couldn't maintain the standard she had previously demonstrated. Her shots began to find the tape more often, and she seemed to struggle physically in the later stages, with Anghelescu taking the final set 6-1.

Top seed Lily Kimbell had quickly finished her match with Jessica Harrow, which was only a few games old when it was halted by the rain Tuesday, earning a 6-4, 6-0 victory, but the next match on that same lower level court was far from routine.

When I arrived, No. 3 seed Blair Seideman and unseeded Krista Hardebeck were in the second set, with Seideman holding a 3-0 lead, after Hardeback had taken the opening set 6-3. Hardebeck is difficult to beat when she is playing well, because she simply doesn't miss and gets everything back, but in the second set the 14-year-old Californian was committing an uncharacteristic number of errors. Once the match was even again, there were no breaks until 4-4 in the third, when Hardebeck hit a backhand wide at 30-40.

Seideman, who was having trouble reading Hardebeck's strokes, served for the match twice, at 5-4 and at 6-5, but she never earned a match point. In the tenth game, Seideman seemed shaken by a argument over a let that she had said she'd called, but the court umpire did not hear, leaving intact the loss of the point and a 30-30 score. She lost the next two points, but Hardebeck immediately went down 0-40 and the eventual break gave Seideman another chance to end it on her serve. But broken at love, Seidman went into the tiebreaker without any momentum, and it didn't take long for Hardebeck, who won the 16s International Spring Championships in Carson, to fashion a 6-2 lead. Three unforced errors later, Hardebeck was down to her last chance, but she seized it with a forehand winner to seal her 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(5) upset. She will play unseeded Hanna Yu in the fourth round on Thursday.

Two rounds of main draw matches are scheduled for Thursday, so it will be another busy day at the Racquet Club, although the weather forecast is much better and should create no additional scheduling problems.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

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