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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unseeded Hovhannisyan Shocks Cox; van Overbeek Saves Match Points in Win Over Sandgren

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Kalamazoo MI--

Thursday wasn't a good day for former Kalamazoo 16s champions, with 2008 winner Jordan Cox, the sixth seed, falling to unseeded Mousheg Hovhannisyan 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and 2007 champion Tennys Sandgren, seeded fourth, eliminated by No. 14 Bob van Overbeek 5-7, 7-6(8), 6-3 in fifth round singles action at Stowe Stadium.

Cox was cruising along, up a set and a break, when Hovhannisyan, a 17-year-old from Los Angeles, decided he needed to change his tactics.

"I started out just trying to play my game, but he was stepping in early, taking all my short balls and hitting winners," said Hovhannisyan, who is planning to join Pepperdine in January. "Then I realized I had to hit it higher and make it loopier, to take time away. In the second set, when I was down 4-2, I started to doubt it, but when I broke him back I was like, yeah, I've got this match, I can take it. So I'm really happy to be in the quarters at Kalamazoo for the first time."

Cox, who was a finalist at the Wimbledon Junior championships last month and turned pro shortly thereafter, served well in the first set, but not in the third, and two double faults when he was serving at 2-4 contributed to that critical second break. Serving for the match, Hovhannisyan went up 40-15, but a forehand winner by Cox saved the first match point. On his next chance, Hovhannisyan came up with an ace, but not with a 120 mph heater.

"I've been working on that serve for a while, a kick serve out wide," he said. "It works in doubles too, and that's why we're unseeded and in the semifinals. I've got that extra couple of feet to stand."

As for being unseeded, Hovhannisyan said it wasn't just the tournament seeding committee that had low expectations for him.

"My dad actually booked a flight for Monday, this past Monday," he said. "He thought I was going to lose, he didn't have any confidence in me. So I'm thinking to myself, I'm going to show this guy--I'm going to go out and try and win the tournament. He expected me to win one round at most."

Hovhannisyan will try to extend his surprising run against 14th seed van Overbeek, who saved three match points on his way to a win over his friend Sandgren.

Sandgren served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but wasn't able to reach match point. In the tiebreaker, van Overbeek's forehand was responsible for several crucial winners, but it didn't keep him from being down 5-6. The 17-year-old from Boca Raton saved that match point with a huge first serve and a forehand behind Sandgren. Van Overbeek didn't get his first serve in on the next point, and when his forehand caught the tape, Sandgren had his second chance to end the match. But his forehand went into the net, making it 7-7. A first serve winner gave Sandgren a third match point, but van Overbeek drove him back with a forehand and then hit a short ball that Sandgren couldn't run down before it bounced twice. A van Overbeek ace gave him a set point, and he took advantage of his first opportunity, hitting a big forehand that Sandgren couldn't handle.

At 3-all in the third set, Sandgren was broken at love and van Overbeek held easily for 5-3. In the final game, van Overbeek needed three match points, but it was enough for him, and he had a rare win over his friend and frequent training partner.

"I was very excited to get that win," said van Overbeek, who was 1-4 in ITF play against Sandgren, including a recent 6-3, 6-1 loss in the semifinals of the Easter Bowl. "We're really good friends, train together, travel together a lot. It was definitely unnerving at the end, trying to close it out, but I'm really glad to get the win today."

With the classic big serve, big forehand hard court game, it isn't surprising that van Overbeek would excel on the Stowe Stadium courts, but it was actually his trip to Spain's clay courts earlier this year that helped play a role in his success today.

"During the USTA trip to Spain, defense is the thing. You can miss balls when you're attacking, but they don't want you to miss balls on defense ever. I saw immediate results from that training this spring, and then I worked on it again between the French and Wimbledon, and it obviously is coming in handy now."

The other quarterfinal in the bottom half is another edition of a longtime junior rivalry, with No. 7 seed Jarmere Jenkins facing No. 2 seed Chase Buchanan. Buchanan had his first tough set of the tournament against No. 26 seed Dan Kosakowski, but he got by the hard-hitting Californian 6-4, 6-2. Jenkins got off to a slow start against unseeded Frank Carleton, but came back to post a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 win. Jenkins and Buchanan met in the consolation final in Kalamazoo last year, with Buchanan winning 6-3, 4-1 ret. inj., and the Ohio State Buckeye holds a 2-1 lead in their ITF junior encounters, but Jenkins, who is already enrolled at the University of Virginia, won their last match in the spring of 2008, on Carson's hard courts.

No. 19 seed Kevin King, who eliminated top seed Alex Domijan on Wednesday, continued his run with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 22 Sekou Bangoura Jr. and will meet No. 13 seed Raymond Sarmiento in the quarterfinals Friday. Sarmiento didn't try to hit with No. 25 seed Justin Shane, who can trade ground strokes with the best of them, and Sarmiento's variety and tactics resulted in a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

No. 3 seed Denis Kudla, following a pattern he has employed all week, broke open a tight first set and cruised in the second over unseeded Clarke Spinosa 6-3, 6-2. Kudla's quarterfinal opponent will be No. 8 seed Ryan Lipman, who subdued the dangerous Fred Saba, the No. 16 seed, 6-2. 6-2.

The 16s singles fifth round featured some very long and tense matches, although top seed Jack Sock was not tested in his 6-4, 6-0 win over unseeded Michael Rinaldi. Unseeded Nick Chappell needed almost three hours to claim a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-2 win over unseeded Alex Petrone, and will play Sock in the quarterfinals. No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo has yet to drop a set in the tournament, posting a 6-4, 6-1 victory over unseeded Robert Stineman and faces No. 7 seed Marcos Giron. Giron's 6-4, 6-4 win over unseeded Daniel Ho sounds routine, but it was a very close and exceptionally long two-setter.

It took No. 4 seed Jackson Withrow a set to get on track, but he overcame No. 26 seed Ashok Narayana 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 to set up a meeting with No. 21 seed Morgan Mays, who was a 6-2, 6-3 winner over No. 20 seed Keaton Cullimore.

No. 29 seed Dane Webb, who upset No. 2 seed Shane Vinsant on Wednesday, saved set points against No. 14 seed Hunter Callahan, winning the hour-and-twenty-minute first set 7-6(5), and used his momentum to capture the second set 6-2. He will play No. 8 seed Gonzales Austin, who let six match points get away from him in the second set against No. 12 seed Spencer Simon, but ultimately prevailed 6-0, 6-7(8), 6-4.

The 16s doubles semifinalists were decided on Thursday evening. Chappell and Giron, the No. 15 seeds, defeated No. 11 seeds Andrew Korinek and Jose Martinez 6-2, 7-5, and will play No. 9 seeds Tyler Gardiner and Alexios Halebian. Gardiner and Halebian beat No. 14 seeds Jason Luu and Quoc-Daniel Nguyen 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3. No. 13 seeds Narayan and Michael Riechmann came back for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over unseeded Tim Kopinski and Michael Redlicki. Their semifinal opponents will be No. 2 seeds Emmett Egger and Vinsant, who defeated Ho and Jacob Jung 7-6(3), 6-3.

For complete results, including the consolation draws, see ustaboys.com.


the old pro said...

seedings are rarely perfect, but the kalamazoo seeding committee deserves credit for plugging jenkins and lipman in the 7 and 8 slots.

Stillplaying said...

Any updates on where some of the undecideds are going to school, if they are going? I.e. Van Overbeek?

getreal said...

Cox went pro after his run at jr Wimbledon? Well, if Hovhannisyan could figure out his holes after a set, what do you think the pros will do. Sure he was the 16s champion here at the zoo, but his record both in juniors and on the future level since until Wimbledon was not exactly impressive like Harrison’s or other top juniors who have gone pro. Wimbledon is one tournament and his run to the finals had some good wins, but Cox also had the fortune of the two best players on the other side of the draw or else he would been clearly stopped at the quarters. Wish him luck but this decisions is premature at best.

Austin said...

Jordan Cox lost this morning in the backdraw, BUT........thank you Jordan for bothering to show up! Heres a kid who just almost won Wimbledon and has already turned pro, if he can play the backdraw then so can everyone else.

getreal said...

to austin

sounds like Cox tanked in the BD, didnt really it so whats the poiunt of that...meaningless. If show you play to win and give your opponent the respect., now throw it.

collegefan said...

Sure seems like most of these guys could benefit from (at least) a spring season of college tennis. Let's face it. If you aren't able to dominate in college, like say a Jesse Levine, you're probably not ready to succeed at the pro level. Just my 2 cents

tennis said...

completely agree collegefan.

austin, backdraw means NOTHING AT ALL in kalamazoo, the point is to win it all to get the WC into the open...the backdraw means nothing, thats why some random people who lose early get so deep in the backdraw, theres no point in showing up if youre gunna tank, its better to def the day before so the opponent doesnt have to get up for an 8 am match tank.

Go for it said...


The two best players were not on the other side of the draw of Cox. Kuznetsov-yes, Tomic-no. Most people would rather play Tomic on grass than Britton. Tomic has a higher ATP ranking right now, but I would rather have Britton's game.

Cox is going after his goals and I applaud him for that. He may struggle, as most players do but if he works hard, he will have a long successful career. I'm rooting for him.

getreal said...

to go for it

How can you say that Tomic is less a threat on grass than Britton when Tomic was one spot away from qualifying for the men's Wimbledon main draw beating two top 200 players along the way.