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Monday, December 21, 2009

Abanda and O'Loughlin to Decide Junior Orange Bowl Girls 12s Title; Six U.S. Players Reach Semis in Boys 12s and 14s and Girls 14s

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Coral Gables, FL--


With skies overcast and temperatures never climbing out of the mid-60s Monday, the Junior Orange Bowl contestants were fortunate that the conditions were so benign for a second straight day of two high-stakes matches.

When the dust had settled, there were seven U.S. players still in contention for a Junior Orange Bowl title, with Julia O'Loughlin the first to reach a final, winning twice today in the girls 12s division. The unseeded O'Loughlin will play Canadian Francoise Abanda, a No. 1 seed, for the title on Tuesday morning, but it certainly didn't look like O'Loughlin would be in that position after her first set in her quarterfinal match against unseeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia. Konjuh was playing lights out tennis, and O'Loughlin was unable to counter effectively. She took a nasty fall, scraping her elbow, and it simply looked as if it wasn't her day after losing the first set 6-0.

At that stage of the match, I left to go the Biltmore to watch some girls 14s fourth round play, and when I returned, O'Loughlin had taken control of the third set, and won the match 0-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. Meanwhile, Abanda and Eddie Herr champion Mariya Shishkina were in a dogfight, with Abanda taking the first set 7-6(8), and Shishkina leveling the match with a 7-5 second set. The lean Canadian, who played the 14s at the Eddie Herr, had a definite size advantage over Shishkina, and her power gave the 11-year-old Floridian trouble. Abanda took particular advantage of Shishkina's second serve, often hitting outright winners on the return, and Abanda displayed a Venus Williams-like serenity to disarm her feisty opponent. When Abanda took the final set 6-2, there was certainly a question about her ability to recover physically and mentally in time for her second match of the day, but she showed great stamina in taking down Mathilde Armintano of France, a No. 1 seed, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to take her place in the final.

O'Loughlin, meanwhile, had a much less strenuous second match, beating Eddie Herr finalist Tornado Ali Black 6-2, 6-0. Although I didn't see any of that match, I was told that O'Loughlin hit an astonishing array of winners against Black, who had had her own quarterfinal drama with qualifier Yi Jia Shao of China. Black, who had beaten Shao in straight sets at the Eddie Herr, had more difficulty in Monday's match before finally subduing Shao 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

The girls 12s final is Tuesday morning at Salvadore Park.

The semifinals of the other three divisions are Tuesday at the University of Miami.
In the girls 14s, top seed Brooke Austin of the U.S. will take on No. 4 seed Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador in one semifinal, and No. 3 seed Daria Lebsheva of Belarus will face unseeded Yuki Chiang of the U.S.

Austin and Gonzalez both lost their first sets of the tournament in the quarterfinals, with Austin coming back to defeat Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 and Gonzalez taking out No. 5 seed Merijana Vlahinic of Croatia 7-5 2-6, 6-3. Lebesheva had two tough matches on Monday, defeating unseeded Jade Suvrijn of France 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Eddie Herr champion Spencer Liang, the No. 6 seed, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4. Chiang has posted some outstanding results throughout the tournament, defeating the No. 2 seed yesterday and she continued that form today, taking out ninth seed Tatiana Guskova of Russia 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and Eddie Herr finalist Katy Dunne of Great Britain, the No. 7 seed, 6-1, 6-1.

I hadn't spent much time at the boys 12s at Tropical Park, and after the morning matches had produced a quarterfinal between unseeded Americans Spencer Furman of Washington and Eduardo Nava of California, it seemed like a great reason to venture out into the Miami traffic. I'm certainly glad I went, because I hadn't seen either boy play before, and I wouldn't have had a chance to see the loser again. That turned out to be Nava, who fell 7-5, 6-3 to Furman, but he has a very powerful game that couldn't quite measure up to the quick and heady style of Furman. Much smaller than Nava, Furman was still able to handle the pace, shrug off the forehand winners that Nava smacked every so often, and stay in the big points long enough to outlast Nava. Down a break in the first set, Furman broke Nava to win the set, and got the only break he needed in the second set at 2-3.

Next up for Furman is Eddie Herr champion Stefan Kozlov, who defeated another No. 1 seed, Andrey Rublev of Russia, 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals. There is stil the possibility of an Eddie Herr finals rematch, with Korea's Seongchan Hong, who lost to Kozlov in two tiebreakers in Bradenton, reaching the semifinals. Hong, a No. 1 seed, will need to beat No. 1 seed Alexander Zverev, younger brother of Top 100 ATP pro Mischa Zverev in the semifinals to get his chance for revenge, should Kozlov advance to Wednesday's final.

In the boys 14s, the top 7 seeds are all out, with No. 1 seed Frederico Silva the most notable absentee from the semifinals. Silva fought back to force a third set against Great Britain's Kyle Edmund, but he had nothing left for his fifth set of the day, dropping a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 decision. Edmund's opponent in the semifinal will be Mackenzie McDonald, also a No. 9 seed, who took out another No. 9 seed, Croatia's Borna Coric 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. McDonald's friend and frequent doubles partner Nikko Madregallejo upset No. 4 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, the Eddie Herr champion, 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in the round of 16, then went on to beat unseeded Mac Roy of the U.S. 6-2, 7-5. Roy was serving for the second set at 5-4, but Madregallejo stayed steady while Roy went for winners, not able to produce them when the big points presented themselves.

Madregallejo's opponent in the semifinals is No. 8 seed Thien Nguyen of Vietnam, who rolled over two No. 9 seeds on Monday, Pedro Cachin of Argentina 6-1, 6-2 and Gregory Garcia of the U.S. 6-2, 6-0.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.


get real said...

WOW, hard to believe Julia is in the 12s. I hope she is not one of the early bloomers. It seems like the girls who mature at a early age tend to max out young. Her body looks like a 16yr old

fanoftennis said...

What a great tournament for both Abanda and O'Loughlin. Both girls are very talented and have a great future ahead. Good luck to both!