Thursday, December 3, 2009

Girls 18s Top Seed Watson Upset by Leykina; Kozlov vs. Hong and Black vs. Shishkina For Eddie Herr 12s Titles Friday

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Bradenton FL--

US Open girls champion and 2008 Eddie Herr finalist Heather Watson saw the dream of winning her home court title evaporate on Thursday, with 13th seed Polina Leykina of Russia claiming a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over the top seed from Great Britain.

After a two-hour delay due to overnight rains in the Bradenton area, Watson again enjoyed the support of her classmates and fellow tennis players at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy, but they couldn't help her locate her usually crisp and tidy game. At the end of the first set tiebreak, Watson made several unforced errors, with the 15-year-old Russian doing very little but keep the ball in play with some solid defense.

Leykina then took control of the match, breaking Watson twice to take a 4-0 lead in the second set. Watson finally held in the fifth game, and began finding her form, eliminating the unforced errors that had been abundant in the first four games. Watson fought all the way back to even the second set at 4, only to lose her next service game, when a double fault at deuce and a backhand error cost her the game. Leykina then served it out to make Watson's comeback for naught.

Leykina, who admitted that she did not think she had a chance to win the match before it started, gained confidence when she won the tiebreaker, and managed to put the loss of four straight games in the second set out of her mind.

"I didn't think about the score, I think about my game," said Leykina, who conceded it was her biggest win, at least until what she hopes is her next victory. "I just tried my best and I did it."

With qualifier Belinda Niu's 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 loss to No. 8 seed Zsofia Susanyi, Madison Keys is the only U.S. girl to reach the quarterfinals. Keys defeated No. 12 seed Magda Linette of Poland 6-3, 6-1, and will face unseeded wild card Di Zhao of China Friday.

The U.S. boys had another excellent day, with four of them advancing to the 18s quarterfinals. Denis Kudla(4), Mitchell Frank(5), Raymond Sarmiento(9) and local favorite Sekou Bangoura Jr.(13) will play international opponents on Friday, so an all-American semifinal is a possibility. Two unseeded British players, Jack Carpenter and Oliver Golding, have reached the quarterfinals, along with big-serving qualifier Mark Verryth of Australia and No. 3 seed Marton Fucsovic of Hungary.

The 12s singles finalists were determined on Thursday, with Stefan Kozlov of the U.S. reaching the boys championship match for the second straight year. Kozlov defeated Russian Andrey Rublev, also a No. 1 seed, 6-3, 6-1. Kozlov will again face a Korean opponent in the final, this year it's Seongchan Hong hoping to defend Hyeon Chung's 2008 title. Hong defeated Duck Hee Lee 6-1, 6-1 in a match that lacked the intensity and focus that had been hallmarks of Lee's previous matches. Lee, who is deaf, may have been exhausted from his three-hour quarterfinal battle on Wednesday, and the pop on his shots was missing in action Thursday.

The girls 12s semifinals were exceptionally competitive. Mariya Shishkina downed Maria Patrascu of Canada 7-5, 6-3, in a long and spirited two-setter played on court 2. The second semifinal between Tornado Ali Black and Anastasia Nefedova was unfortunately sent to an Academy Park court, which is a golf cart ride away from the main site, so spectators missed a three-and-a-half hour marathon that was eventually won by Black, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

As is the case with the 18s, there is just one U.S. girl remaining in the 14s, unseeded Spencer Liang. The boys 14s quarterfinalists from the U.S. are No. 3 seed Joeseph DiGiulio, No. 8 seed Roy Lederman and No. 13 seed Thai Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski had the most dramatic win, taking down No. 4 seed Frederico Silva of Portugal 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

The lack of U.S. players in the girls 14s and 18s is made up for in the 16s, where five of the eight quarterfinalists are Americans. Top seed Sachia Vickery and No. 5 seed Caitlyn Williams won in straight sets, whil No. 16 seed Vicky Duval took out No. 3 seed Elianne Douglas-Miron of Canada 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4. Breaunna Addison and Riko Shimizu, both unseeded, play tomorrow for a spot in the semifinals.

The boys 16s quarterfinals feature four Americans: No. 7 seed Hunter Harrington and No. 8 seed Alexios Halebian coasted to wins, while No. 14 seed Morgan Mays and wild card Robert Livi came back from a set down to advance.

The first champions were crowned today at the Eddie Herr, with Asian teams claiming both 12s doubles titles at the expense of Americans.

Koreans Soon Woo Kwan and Seongchan Hong, who will play for his second title in the singles Friday, defeated the Kozlov brothers, Boris and Stefan, 7-6(0), 6-4 in a competitive and loudly contested doubles final between two No. 1 seeded teams. The chair umpire had to call both teams over several times to ask them to tone down the celebrations and lamentations that were displayed after nearly every point.

In the much more subdued girls final, Chaoyi Chen and Yi Jia Shao of China emerged with a 5-7, 6-2, 10-7 victory over the U.S. pairing of Kellyn Abbanat and Ashley Bongart, in a contest between unseeded teams. The doubles scoring format for the finals was that of the ITF: no-ad, with match tiebreaker in lieu of the third set.

For more on the tournament see eddieherr.com. For complete results, see the tennis information site.