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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Three-setters Few in First Round of 12s at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Bradenton, FL--

In the first few days of any tournament, but especially the Eddie Herr with its 2000 participants and 30-plus courts, my tactics consist of wandering from court to court, looking for an interesting player, a good match, or coach who can tell me something about the player he or she is watching.

During the first round of the girls 12s, played in the early morning chill, there were a substantial number of mismatches, with 6-0, 6-0 being the most popular score. Two matches, or rather girls, caught my eye: 11-year-old Mia Smith of Great Britain, who displayed a stylish one-handed backhand in her 6-2, 6-0 victory over Canada's Kirsten Prelle, and 12-year-old McKinleigh Lair of the United States, who pulled out a three-ring binder during the changeovers and wrote in it until her opponent got up to resume play. I was assured by her mother that it wasn't homework, but rather tennis notes that were getting that attention, even when she led 5-0 in the second set. Lair, who trains at the Evert Academy, defeated Paloma Martinez of Mexico 6-1, 6-0.

Three No. 1 seeds lost in the girls 12s opening round, of the 16 so designated. Tamara Culibrk of the United States (if I don't write the country, assume it's the U.S.) defeated No. 1 seed Dominique Mortier of the Bahamas 6-0, 6-1, and Sidney Riley beat No. 1 seed Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. That was one of only four matches that went three sets, and one of those was decided by a match tiebreaker rather than a full third set, due to an officiating error. The third No. 1 seed to lose was Jessica Hinojosa of Mexico who fell 6-1, 6-0 to Yi Jia Shao of China.

The boys 12s matches that followed seemed much more intense; maybe the warmth of the sun unthawed the emotions that the girls couldn't seem to locate. There were again three No. 1 seeds losing in the boys opening round: Mikayel Khachatryan of Armenia, who lost to Nate Ponwith of the U.S., William Barnes of Panama, who didn't win a game from Ninan Kumar, and Anish Wijesinghe of Sri Lanka, who fell to Dane Dunlap of Canada 6-0, 4-6, 7-5. I watched most of the first set of the Wijesinghe - Dunlap contest with Nick Saviano, who coaches Dunlap, and it looked as if another lopsided result was imminent. But Wijesinghe picked up his game in the second, and when I returned to the match, he was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set, after having taken a 5-2 lead. Wijesinghe's first serve deserted him completely in his final two serving games however, and Dunlap played very composed and error-free points, allowing Wijesinghe to seal his own fate with mistakes four or five strokes into their rallies. When it was over, Dunlap had won the final five games of the roller coaster match.

There were eight three-setters of the 64 matches played in the boys 12s Saturday, but none were longer than Canadian David Wolfson's 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Jake Devine, which clocked in at three hours and twenty-seven minutes. Wolfson, a No. 1 seed, may feel the effects of that battle in his second round match on Sunday.

The first round of 18s qualifying was played, with two rounds scheduled for Sunday.

For results of all Saturday's matches, see the tennisinformation website.