Saturday, August 15, 2009

Buchanan Meets Lipman for 18s Title; Sock and Austin Vie for 16s Crown in Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Kalamazoo MI--

When they last met, Chase Buchanan and Ryan Lipman needed a third set tiebreaker to decide their third round qualifying match in a Florida Pro Circuit Futures event seven months ago, with Buchanan posting the victory.

The prize on the line Sunday is significantly more important--the national junior title, and with it, a main draw wild card into the U.S. Open.

Buchanan and Lipman arrived at that coveted destination in vastly different ways on a day that saw the heat index exceed 90 degrees on the Stowe Stadium courts. Second seed Buchanan could do no wrong in his 6-0, 6-1 destruction of unseeded Mousheg Hovhannisyan, while the eighth seeded Lipman had to come from behind to eliminate No. 13 seed Raymond Sarmiento 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Buchanan has rolled to the finals without dropping a set, or even needing a tiebreaker, and he was at the top of his game in Saturday's semifinal. Hovhanniysan, who had eliminated the No. 10, 6 and 14 seeds in his previous three victories and also reached the doubles semifinals, appeared fatigued from all that tennis, and the unforced errors that he avoided in those previous rounds surfaced often against a relaxed Buchanan.

Like Buchanan, Lipman had faced no serious challenge in his first five matches, but he played much more nervously against Sarmiento who came out firing, breaking Lipman in the opening game and holding that advantage throughout the set.

In the second set, it was Lipman who got an early break and made it stand up, and with the heat rule in effect, there was a 10-minute rest period before the start of the third set.

"My coach (Bill Tym) just rolled in from Nashville, and I knew if I had him in the ten minutes, he'd really help me out," said Lipman, who will begin classes at Vanderbilt this fall. "That was the 'trick up my sleeve' that Raymond was talking about yesterday."

Sarmiento double faulted on game point in to open the third set, and trailing 2-1, he asked for the trainer for a calf muscle cramp. The delay didn't affect Lipman, and he maintained his lead. Trailing 5-3 in the third was a familiar position for Sarmiento, as he had come back from that to beat Kevin King in the quarterfinals Friday, but in the final game against Lipman, his forehand let him down. Lipman couldn't make anything happen on his first two match points, but he didn't have to do anything on the third, as Sarmiento double faulted to end the match.

Lipman said that he had been practicing best of five sets at home to prepare, although neither he nor Buchanan had played that format in competition.

"I definitely don't have a problem going three sets," Buchanan said. "I'm sure for everybody here five sets is a different beast."

Lipman is looking forward to his rematch with Buchanan.

"We always have tight matches, I'm excited, it should be fun," Lipman said. "He is playing good, but I don't think he's played anybody like me, that are crafty, with finesse; he's played guys who hit right in his strike zone, so I'll mix it up a little bit."

Two other players who had cruised through their draws met in the 16s semifinal Saturday, with top seed Jack Sock and No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo engaging in a very entertaining battle before Sock emerged with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Fratangelo served very well in the opening set, and had his chance to take the lead when Sock was down 0-40 serving at 3-3. But Sock saved five break points, a theme that would be repeated throughout the match, held for 4-3, then broke Fratangelo to earn the first set.

"He came out firing and pretty much kept it up for three sets, which is pretty rare actually," said Sock. "I thought if I moved him a lot, he would try to go for broke, miss more than he made. I played too far behind the baseline, too defensive, let him play his own game. I don't know how I won. I was serving awful."

After being broken three times in the second set, Sock came back from the 10-minute break and was broken again. But he got the break back immediately and started to serve better, especially when he got down 0-40 at 3-3 and had aces on two of three points.

Fratangelo, who had played so well for so long, finally wilted in the third, with two double faults contributing to his demise. He saved one match point with a blistering forehand, but on the second, his forehand didn't make it over the net, and Sock had survived.

While Sock and Fratangelo were each playing in their first three-setter, the other 16s semifinal featured two veterans of extended play. No. 8 seed Gonzales Austin had played deciding sets in three previous rounds, while No. 4 seed Jackson Withrow had come back from a set down in his fifth round and quarterfinal matches.

So when Austin finally claimed a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over a cramping Withrow, the large weekend crowd voice their appreciation for the energy and intensity that both players displayed during their nearly three-hour encounter.

Withrow appeared to be fighting off cramps late in the third set, when he was desperately trying to get back the break he'd surrendered at 2-2. Austin held firm, however, and with Withrow serving to stay in the match at 3-5, the cramps got worse. Withrow saved the first match point with a good second serve, and another with an overhead, but after that shot, he fell to the ground in pain near the net and a trainer was called to assist him. He eventually resumed play, but Austin showed effects of the delay, winning the next two points to take the match.

"I was thinking I should have finished the match already," Austin said of his thought process during Withrow's treatment. "I wasn't sure if he was going to quit, I didn't think he would, but I wondered if it was a tactic to break my momentum. But apparently he actually was cramping."

Against Sock, whom he lost to in three sets in the National team competition last week, Austin has a definite strategy.

"Keep it away from Sock's forehand. His forehand is just huge, he hits winners off that side all day long. But if I can do that and serve well, I think I can beat him."

The left-hander from Miami has never been beyond the round of 16 in a National Championship before, but says that he has seen big improvement in his game this summer. Sock will have an obvious advantage in the big match department, having won 17 gold balls already.

"It might be a pretty big factor, actually," said Sock, envisioning his opponent as being "pretty nervous starting out. I'll be a little nervous, but I'm used to it, so we'll see."

The 16s finals are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., with the 18s final following at approximately 1:30 p.m.

For complete results, visit ustaboys.com


collegefan said...

How bout two college guys reaching the final. Either Buchanan was far from 100% last spring or college tennis has really improved. For Chase to only play #6 and then get beat so badly in the Finals, I would have to think it's the former. Still, that experience will probably turn out to be good for him in the long run. Can only think that Ty Tucker is still shaking his head over that missed opportunity. Winning at #6 singles & #3 dubs likely would have enabled the Buckeyes to win their first title

tony said...

to play devil's advocate to collegefan's previous post, what does everyone think is the real reason behind buchanan's struggles last spring at osu. he lost several matches badly and got totally blasted by nguyen at NCAA's. was it because of the environment, coaching, pressure, etc at osu? or was it simply because he was injured? and for him to come out at 'zoo and totally outclass everyone (thus far) just kind of makes you shake your head. i am in no way incinuating that college tennis stunted his growth (i'm a big supporter of college tennis and actually coach it myself) but there had to be some other underlying factors that caused him to struggle so mightily.

Brent said...

Had a chance to spend an enjoyable Saturday hanging out at the Zoo. Some random observations....

- Buchanan was awfully impressive. I'm not sure he had more than 5 unforced errors in the match. Consistently controlled every point. Agree with the other comments that there has to be some other explanation for how poor he played this spring.

- Lipman/Sarmiento was a very fun match. It is too bad Raymond doesn't have more size. It is remarkable how much pop he's got to his game despite his size. Where a lot of these guys look very similar in terms of just pounding groundies from one corner to the other, Lipman definitely throws some variety in there. Don't think I have ever seen him play before. Can really keep his opponent at bay with that backhand slice. He reminds me of Brad Gilbert in some way with a sneaky serve, great slice, nice oney if he needs it, and a great mind. Think Sarmiento used the word 'crafty' and that's probably the best way to say it.

- impressed that Kudla and Sandgren hung in to play the back draw - they had quite a slugfest - will be interested to see whether either has the goods for a run to the top 100

- Sock/Fratangelo was the match of the day. Sock hauled out two aces to get back from love 40 at 3-3 in the third. Impressive stuff from Sock on the big points but seems like he is going to have to find a way to play more offense as he moves forward. Fratangelo controlled 75% of the points.

- thought whoever won that match would roll over the Austin/Withrow winner. Shows you what I know.

- found myself thinking that it would be fun to see a Jr. Davis Cup type of event but with the college structure. Could the US be beat with a lineup of 1.Harrison, 2. Domijan, 3.Buchanan, 4. Sandgren 5. Williams 6. Cox - with King, Lipman, Kudla, Fowler, Frank, Ore, Sock, Jenkins, on the bench. Think we have great depth - think the odds are that a couple of these guys have to break out and become top 50 players

- Jenkins looked materially out of sorts vs. Bangoura. Does anyone cover more real estate without looking like they are even trying than Bangoura? Hopefully, Jenkins can get his game back on track at UVA.

- was interesting to see the camraderie of many of the top guys - Sandgren, King, Pasha, Sarmiento, etc.

justthefacts said...

to brent

Agree with assessment about future jr. Davis Cup. Great idea. All these guys can play at a high level and much will depend on how they develop over the next two years. Cox and Kudla have chosen the pro route, which will be more sink or swim but there is no guaranteed formula to this journey anyway. Sandgren plays with a lot of heart and grit, which can take him a long way, clearly shines on clay and may have a shot as future French Open contender. Hope Sarmiento grows but there are small guys who do make an impact if they can stay injury free, the kid has got game. Heard Fowler played an impressive match against Buchanan in IL the week earlier, serving for the match at 5-2 in the second but changed his strategy, started rushing. Needs to get physically stronger, with more of a vision on how to use his shots. Sock plays with a lot of grit and focus, wins a lot of matches but agree he needs to develop his offensive but still young. With the group of juniors you mentioned US tennis is alive. Britton, if he learns to move better, could make some big leaps over the next 18 months. Harrison though has continue to make his impact and climb up the pro ranks, ahead of the group at this time.

john said...

about the jr davis cup team, a few players you could put at least above sock, ore, and fowler, possibly above frank and jenkins are: bangoura(rd of 16 and good wins over jenkins and kandath), sarmiento(semis), vanoverbeek(quarters, and win over sandgren) hovhannisyan(semis), and kandath. just wanted to put a few possibly more deserving names out there. the idea is for the jr davis cup for college is great i think.

Austin said...

Ive always had a thought that a lot of these kids train together. Why not get a group of six of them together and go to a place like Florida Atlantic or Florida International for one year. That allows them all to train down in Boca Raton against great competition. Then they can all turn pro at the end of the year. I would think the team of phenoms would be one of the favorites to win the national title. Interesting idea at least.

tennis said...

because FAU and FIU are not good schools, not to mention they only have 4.5 scholarships so 1.5 peopel would have to pay their own way.

Austin said...

You completely missed the point.

They would be able to train at the USTA facility in Boca Raton with all the rest of the top 18-19yr olds and be on the same college team. They are turning pro at the end of the year so education doesnt really factor in. They could hire a USTA coach or local top junior coach. This is an idea I would love to see attempted.

tony said...

Something I else I failed to point out earlier was that in addition to buchanan, kevin king at ga.tech struggled mightily this year as well. He was gettting blitzed at 3 and 4 in the lineup and sometimes by scores as staggering as 1 and 1 or 1 and 0. Somehow he was able to turn that around and take domijan at zoo. Congrats to him for shaking off his freshman struggles and competing well at the zoo. Hopefully he and Buchanan will have more successful sophomore campaigns.

the old pro said...

Austin, your idea about having the kids go to fau, train at the usta and play college as a team is very creative seems like a tremendous idea. the way you've described it, the template could be used year after year. they could also rotate positions from match to match if they weren't getting enough quality competition at the lower spots. i would also think that fau would be able to put together a very strong schedule with a quasi-usta team. again, very impressive brainstorming. i hope you and others build on it.

tennis said...

i understand your point, you must not understand mine. if you are going to put 6 players on the team, 1.5 will still have to pay their own way, and probably wouldnt agree to do it. AND, there are not 6 players right now that should go pro after a year or ever, so you are encouraging them and setting them up to fail. the idea is great in a perfect world, but its far from great in the real world.

there is no difference between your idea and having the 6 players dorm at the USTA and train and travel around playing futures because if they would turn pro the following year anyways, why go to a crappy college when you wouldnt need to.

student athlete said...

may I remind the audience but athletes that go to college are STUDENT ATHLETES. the word student comes before athlete.

jo said...

what does that have to with anything??

Anonymous said...

to college fan
the collegiate level is far greater than you think. remember back when jamie hunt and nate schnugg were freshmen and sopohmores they played 5-6. and they were both top 7 in the nation. its not surprising where chase played on his team. even bo seal will not play at the top of the georgia line up