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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heavy Rain in Memphis Disrupts Third Round at Girls Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Memphis, TN--

Only six main draw matches were completed in Tuesday's third round at the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts, but due to the stadium court scheduling, I was able to see three of them before the clouds opened at around 2 p.m. CDT, ending main draw play for the day.

There is a "center court" at the Racquet Club of Memphis, and the feature matches scheduled for that court (three today, on a "to follow" basis) have chair umpires, ball runners and plenty of bleacher seating.

Today under overcast skies and in unseasonably cool (low 70s) temperatures, No. 2 seed Ellen Tsay started the day at 8 a.m. against Grace Baker of Charlotte, NC. Tsay fell behind 3-0 in the first set, but won 5 of the next 6 games to give herself a chance to serve it out at 5-4. Despite several set points, the 15-year-old from Pleasanton, Calif., couldn't find her usual consistency and let Baker pull even. Tsay broke Baker in the next game, however, and served well at 6-5 to finish the set.

In the second set, Tsay got an early break, and built at 5-1 lead. Baker was in most of the points, but Tsay's placement often caught her lunging out wide. Baker made far too many errors to put pressure on the steady left-hander, and Tsay won 7-5, 6-2, without being forced to play her best.

Next up on stadium court was local favorite Catherine Harrison, a 15-year-old from Germantown, a Memphis suburb. Aside from the advantages of home cooking and home court, Harrison started with a more tangible benefit, when her opponent, Sarah Lee, was penalized two games for being late for the match, which was scheduled as not before 9 a.m.

Lee looked out of sorts and had difficulty with both her serve and the two-handed forehand of Harrison. Harrison had a 4-0 and 5-1 lead in the opening set, but she was broken serving for the set at 5-1. Lee's drop shots gave Harrison problems, as, like most two-handers on both sides, she prefers to hit hard and flat from the baseline. But Lee was often too busy defending to construct the points as she wanted, and Harrison closed out the first set 6-3, and took a 3-0 two-break lead in the second. Lee got one of the breaks back, but Harrison held at 3-2, with her swinging volley winners proving too much for a dispirited Lee. Harrison's 6-3, 6-3 win also proved another advantage, as her opponent in the fourth round, the winner of the match between No. 4 seed Danielle Collins and Carolyn Chupa, will likely have to play two matches on Wednesday. Harrison and Collins already have a history at the tournament--last year Collins, a No. 17 seed, squeezed by Harrison, a wild card, in a third set tiebreaker in the second round.

The third match on the center court was a short one, with No. 16 seed Whitney Ritchie defeating Keri Frankenberger 6-1, 6-1. Ritchie, a frail-looking left-hander from Oklahoma City, played a very clean and controlled match, keeping errors to a minimum and winning all the important points. Frankenberger couldn't find an area of Ritchie's game to attack, and she was by far the more likely to make an error in any rally of five balls or more.

The other completed matches, which were played at other sites, saw three No. 17 seeds come through: Nida Hamilton, who defeated Monica Yajima 6-3, 6-1, Monica Turewicz, who beat Jacqueline Palmucci 6-1, 6-4 and Gabriella De Simone, who downed Natalie Blosser 6-2.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.