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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lauren Davis Upsets Third Seed Babos; Stephens Advances in Three Sets at US Open Junior Championships

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

Of all the U.S. girls playing in the Open Junior Championships this week, none are more inspired by Melanie Oudin's run than 15-year-old Lauren Davis. Davis, who is 5-foot-2, did her imitation of the tennis world's newest star when she defeated No. 3 seed Timea Babos of Hungary 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-4.

"She's like a real inspiration to me, because she's not that much taller than I am," said Davis, of Gates Mills, Ohio. "She has heart and she believes she can win and she does. It's amazing."

Davis found herself down a set and 5-3, but she found the strategy and the mental strength to turn the match around.

"She was hitting really hard and serving bombs and I wasn't really ready for that," said Davis. "I was taking everything late, which totally took me off my game. But I just told myself to believe that I could win. I just started hitting deeper and changing the pace, hitting lobs and then coming in for swing volleys. She can't really move too well, she's so big, so I mainly tried to run her from side to side."

At 3-3 in the third set, Davis broke, but she was immediately broken back. The errors began to pile up for Babos however, and Davis compounded the 16-year-old's problems by using a variety of shots, keeping Babos guessing.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Davis didn't appear nervous, and Babos didn't seem confident she could do what she had done just one game before. Part of Davis's composure came from having played in her first US Open junior championships last year.

"Last year I was really nervous, and this year I just tried not to think about my nerves," said Davis. "I knew I belonged with these girls. I'm mentally tough--if I'm down I can come back, and if I can imagine myself winning, I can win."

On Thursday Davis will face another much bigger opponent in unseeded Elena Bogdan of Romania.

There are three other U.S. girls in the third round; unfortunately Beatrice Capra and Asia Muhammad play each other on Thursday. Fourth seed Sloane Stephens, who has had a very difficult week with the death of her father, returned from his funeral yesterday, and showed remarkable composure in her 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2 win Wednesday over Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine.

"On the court it's not so bad, but off the court it's rough," said Stephens, who had an aunt, several uncles and her doubles partner Mallory Burdette vocally supporting her throughout the match. "Focusing on the court is pretty easy, but sometimes it gets to you."

Zanevska hits the ball every bit as hard as Stephens, and her forehand was especially effective, but for all the punishing ground strokes exchanged, it was Stephens's defense that proved the difference. After winning the first set, the two 16-year-olds were even at 3-3, and Stephens had a 40-15 lead before losing five straight points. Broken again to end the set, Stephens didn't have much momentum heading into the third, but it was Zanevska who started making errors, giving Stephens an early break. Up 3-1, Stephens got her second break when she threw up an unlikley defensive lob off a deep Zanevska smash, and the combination of the surprise of Stephens getting it back and the swirling winds on the court lead her to put the second one in the net.

Serving for the match, Stephens was down 0-40, but that's when her forehand really began to heat up and she held nothing back. Zanevska saved the first match point with a forehand winner on the baseline, but Stephens took the next one on a second serve winner.

Her opponent on Thursday will be No. 14 seed Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, who beat wild card Julia Boserup 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday. Qualifier Courtney Dolehide was defeated by Great Britain's Heather Watson, the No. 11 seed, 6-3, 6-2.

The marquee match on the boys side was Alex Domijan against No. 3 seed Bernard Tomic on Louis Armstrong Stadium, and as he had at the French Juniors, it was Tomic who came out the winner, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Armstrong, with its Hawkeye challenges and speed guns, provides a break from the usual junior venue, even if there were only scattered seats occupied for the day's first match. Domijan definitely won the power battle, with his first serves frequently topping 120 mph, but in the end, it was Tomic's court sense and touch that proved too much for the 6-foot-7 Floridian.

At 3-3 in the second set, Tomic fought off two break points, and although he showed little emotion, it seemed to ignite his game. With Domijan serving at 5-6, Tomic began to lure Domijan into the net, using drop shots, slices and disguise. Domijan saved one set point with a 123 mph ace, but on the next set point, he didn't get his first serve in. Tomic brought Domijan into the net and passed him, and in the final set, Domijan was at the mercy of the 16-year-old Australian, falling behind 5-0 before he won a game.

Tomic said after the match that he is 6-foot-4 now, and is having trouble coping with the changes he's experiencing due to his growth spurt.

"I get into these matches now and I sort of push the ball," said Tomic. "I'm not one hundred percent. When I stop growing, I'll be really happy, but until then, I'm still young and I've two or three years of growing ahead of me. Sometimes in practice I play really well for a week, and the next week I'm all over the place, and I think that's due to my body growing."

The only U.S. boy winning on Wednesday was Kalamazoo champion Chase Buchanan, who reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Hiroyasu Ehara of Japan. Evan King fell to Buchanan's Thursday opponent Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-2, 6-3. Buchanan joins Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and Raymond Sarmiento as Americans in the final 16.

The match of the day in doubles saw Jordan Cox and Tennys Sandgren save seven match points on their way to 5-7, 7-6(16), 10-4 victory over the Austrian team of Maximilian Neuchrist and Tristen-Samuel Weissborn. They are joined in the quarterfinals by Sock and Matt Kandath, who defeated Ahmed El Menshawy of Great Britain and Harry Fowler of the U.S. 6-4, 7-5.

There are also two girls doubles teams in the quarterfinals. Brooke Bolender and Lauren Herring defeated Ons Jabeur of Tunisia and Sai-Sai Zheng of China 2-6, 6-2, 10-5. Grace Min and Kristie Ahn also won the match tiebreaker to advance, beating Paula Kania and Magda Linette of Poland 3-6, 7-5, 10-7. Last year's finalists Stephens and Burdette will not be there this year. The No. 4 seeds lost to Miyabi Inoue and Risa Ozaki of Japan 7-5, 6-4.

For complete draws, see usopen.org.

Rain is still in the forecast for Thursday, but as of 11 p.m. Wednesday, none has fallen in the vicinity of the USTABJKNTC.


tennisforlife said...

Colette - maybe you won't post this but I was very disappointed that you shut off the debate on the previous post. I don't agree with everything that Jon King says and have been excited by Oudin's tournament but he is entitled to his opinion and this blog is better for it. Censorship is a bad thing. Lets not turn this forum into the Melanie Oudin/Ryan Harrison appreciation society.

Your posts are great but they are better for the debate they provoke. Don't shut that off - agree or not

Very disappointing!!!

The Dude said...

The curious case of Alex Domijan. Why is it that American juniors have adapted the Agassi baseline baseline development model rather than the dominating attack style that Sampras embraced? Despite his 6'7" frame, Domijan is most comfortable hitting groundies from the baseline. Now that he is embarking onto the next level of competition, Alex will be hard pressed to win from the baseline against the jack rabbits staying back. The is a certain incongruity of a player that large not attacking. Is it already too late at 18 to change your development?

Enrique said...

eric amend,

thank you for all of your wisdom it is a great read on the blog, especially from such an accomplished player. but...

before the all star break: dodgers 56-32

since: 27-25

why are they struggling lately? the way they are playing right now will lead to an early exit in the playoffs without question.

steven s said...

Colette, I have been VERY vocal in the past that unless there was foul language used, then you should allow ALL comments tennis related on this blog, whether YOU agree with them or not.

Until now. I applaud you for the decision you made, because without going into specifics, even "free speech" should have limits on "disgusting, and idiotic".

Thank you for realizing this as well!

Thank You said...


Thank you for having the integrity for shutting down the bashing the bloggers were taking part in. There is no way they would write such things if their own names attached to the blogs. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but certain topics get extremely out of hand which makes it extremely unpleasant to participate in your site.

Thank you for taking charge and doing what is right.

Censored said...

The previous blog was shut down because "I don't believe there's anything to be gained from further comments from those, who I agree, have little insight and credibility when discussing the aspects of her game. And if you are unable to admire her competitive spirit, there are probably other forums where you would be more comfortable."

Maybe I missed something but I dont recall Jon King or any other posters negative on Oudin using inappropriate or offensive language. On the contrary Eric Amend and other refered to them variously as idiotic,comical,broken clocks etc.

Colette ,perhaps you could clarify why you shut down the debate.

Rod said...

I assume you are still in New York Collette, so here is something I would really really like you to do. Tell the US Open people that they really must take the time to complete the junior player bios.

How can we be expected to follow junior tennis when all we get is Hiroyasu Ehara, Japan or Marton Fucsovics, Hungary. At least a face with a name would be nice and I think these players have earned the little time it would take to do this.

Am I correct in thinking Julia Boserup turned pro?

Colette Lewis said...

Boserup has not turned pro at this time.

observation said...

tennisforlife.. unless you see something i don't most of the comments posted on here about harrison are borderline negative. reread things and i doubt you would put him in that appreciation society.

Big Daddy Goob said...

So USopen.org would rather show us chairs with classical music than the Sock-Bhambri match? I don't get it... you have the technology, use it.

Austin said...

I dont think Ive cared less about the US Open than I do right now. Its sooooo boring watching Federer and Nadal win yet again. I cant even listen to ESPN drool over FedEx anymore, it makes me want to go Bruno Echagary on them.

Was pretty funny though when Pam Shrivers microphone wasnt completely turned off and we could hear her and Melanie talking after the match last night and Pam was trying to talk her into doing an interview after she had just lost. Anyone else hear it? Melanie clearly didnt want to, but it was great of her to do it. Showed more maturity than most of her competitors.

Eric Amend said...


Forgive me for asking but, in what language is "idiotic, comical, and broken clocks" offensive or inappropriate?? Because it's definitely not the English language.


As of now, I'm just hoping that the Dodgers make the playoffs!!

Eric Amend said...


And all of my posts were speaking directly to Jon King, not any of the other negative Oudin posters, because his arguments were ludicrous.

Amtex said...

From what I read, Jon King simply said Oudin is a pusher with a weak serve who overachieved this summer. And her coach is quite outspoken without exactly a track record of putting out Grand Slam stars, and he does teach at a country club.

Not sure how saying that is bad, or even wrong. The young women is 18 very shortly and has not won any big tournaments. I think she has a few nice wins, and a few wins over opponents clearly having bad days. In a sport like women's tennis where the best players have solid tournament wins by age 17 and 18, it is not such a great accomplishment to simply reach the quarters. Its very nice, but not earth shattering or deserving of all this praise with no room for negative opinions.

Lets see Oudin actually win a few important tournaments. She will be 18 by her next tourney, heading towards 19. And the announcers calling her a kid over and over bothered me too.

So far, King and the others might not be tactful, but they are not wrong.

Man in the Moon said...

strange post Amtex, and I don't know where to begin.

First, people post on blog sites - to exchange ideas, gather info, convey thoughts and then other people either agree or defend the position.

Second, so, based upon your insight-- Andy Roddick, because he only (emphasis added) won 1 important tournament is no big deal.

What I am getting at is -- What is a important tournament? Please advise.

Third, I know Americans are a tough audience -but to say and I quote your remarks "

"A few nice wins,....women's tennis where the best players have solid tournament wins by age 17 and 18 .... not such a great accomplishment to simply reach the quarters....not earth shattering or deserving of all this praise "

In the words of Johny Mac -- "you can't be serious."

MO does have a a few solid tournaments with more than a few nice wins, and to make it to the 1/4 's of a Grand Slam in your 1st year on the tour- with the amount of big wins is huge-- so in your words unless you win a Grand Slam - you are not that good-- Wow -- D Young and Harrison have a long, long,long way to go - according to your theory!!

Fourth, after all of this -- I would be more concerned with your remarks then that of Jon's.