©Colette Lewis 2009--
With rain the first four days of the tournament, the USTA boys 18 & 16 National Championships have resembled a professional grand slam as far as scheduling goes--a day of play, then a day off.
On Monday, it was the 18s who had the day off, with the 16s division having exclusive use of Stowe Stadium, and seeded players taking the courts for the first time. Early morning rain set back match times an hour or so, but skies cleared and humidity dropped, allowing all 64 matches to be completed by 8 p.m.
The top four seeds advanced easily, although top seed Jack Sock would probably disagree with that adverb. Although he strolled through the first set against Quoc-Daniel Nguyen 6-1, early in the second set he began to regularly bend over at the waist between points and was not showing any energy.
"I felt weird and uneasy," said Sock, who won the second set 6-4. "I could start feeling it in the middle and end of the first set and then in the second set it got bad. When I went up for my serve, my stomach just felt uneasy."
Sock didn't think it was anything he ate beforehand, so he was at a loss for an explanation.
"I usually don't have any problems when I play, and that was kind of random. I just had to try to finish as fast as I could, so something worse didn't happen."
Sock, who turns 17 next month and is top-ranked in the USTA 18s, admitted that the wild card into the US Open juniors was the reason he chose to play the 16s.
"I thought I could probably do pretty well in the 18s, because I've been playing well, but I really want to play the US Junior Open, and I thought the 16s would be a better way to get in, rather than trying to get a wild card. I know I can do well if I keep playing well, so the Junior US Open is probably why I played (16s)."
No. 2 seed Shane Vinsant and No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo won their matches 6-1, 6-1, and No. 4 seed Jackson Withrow also earned a straight-set victory, but the seeds right below them didn't fare as well.
No. 5 seed Hunter Harrington withdrew from his evening singles match with an illness and was replaced by an alternate, and No. 6 seed Dennis Mkrtchian was dismissed by Texan Andrew Korinek 6-3, 6-1. Mkrtchian, who won the International Spring championship in Carson in April, was down 4-0 in a matter of minutes on Stowe's court 3. He showed some signs of life midway through the first set, but Korinek served too well to allow Mkrtchian back in the match, and once Korinek got a second break in the second set, the end came quickly.
Korinek had lost to Mkrtchian in the Kalamazoo 16's consolation draw 6-4 in the third last year, so getting such a convincing win on the show courts was very gratifying for him. He bounded up the stairs of the Tower to talk to Pam Shebest of the Kalamazoo Gazette, and was obviously delighted with his performance, displaying an infectious enthusiasm throughout the brief interview.
Korinek wasn't the only unseeded player to have an impact Monday; in all, there were seven seeds defeated, not including Harrington. No. 11 Ace Matias lost to Van Damrongsri 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(0) in a long and crowd-pleasing match that spanned several lunch hours; Brandon Fickey was defeated by Emmett Egger 6-3, 7-6(3) in a match marred by a serious ankle injury to an umpire that required hospitalization. Other seeds losing were: No. 22 Tyler Gardiner to Alex Sidney 6-4, 6-2; No. 32 Vikram Hundal to William Spector 6-3, 6-7(0), 6-1; No. 28 Shaun Chaudhuri to Jason Luu 7-5, 6-4, and No. 24 Robbie Mudge to Anthony Delcore 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
For complete scores, see ustaboys.com.
Monday, August 10, 2009