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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Soggy Start to Junior Orange Bowl Main Draw

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

I spent the morning at the University of Miami Tennis Center today, because it has escaped most of the rain, and this morning it again was dry, with matches starting at 8. Due to wet courts, the girls 14s at the Biltmore and the boys 12s at Tropical Park were delayed, but at UM all the matches in the top half of the boys 14s draw were completed before the drenching rains began around 1 p.m., which ended play for the day.

I got my first extended look at top seed Frederico Silva of Portugal, who beat qualifier Tommy Mylnikov of Canada 6-4, 6-2. Silva is a big, powerful left-hander who moves well for his size, but he made more than his share of unforced errors to keep Mylnikov in the match.

Roy Lederman, a No. 17 seed, who is from Miami, was on the court for less than 40 minutes in his 6-0, 6-0 win over Shiloh Todd of Bermuda. The match was so short, I suspected that a retirement was involved before I checked the score.

In what was a pattern for the day, Strong Kirchheimer defeated qualifier Spencer Rhoads, also of the US, 6-2, 6-3, but it was a much lengthier battle than the score indicates. Without scoring devices, it was impossible to monitor games unless you devoted all your time to one match, so it was a shock to go back to the score reporting desk and see such a routine score. The same could be said of No. 7 seed Joe Di Giulio's 6-4, 7-6(7) victory over local qualifier Ramario Francis in another all-American contest. That match was over two-and-a-half hours long, and Thai Kwiatkowski, the No. 6 seed, also had a tougher-than-expected first rounder, defeating Piotr Lomacki of Poland 6-1, 7-6 (1).

One long match that actually did go three sets, and clocked in at over three hours, was lucky loser Baker Newman's 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over João Walendowsky of Brazil, a No. 17 seed.
The top-seeded American, No. 3 Drew Dawson, who had the USTA No. 1 ranking at the time of the seeding, lost to Billy Harris of Great Britain 7-6(6), 7-6(3).

I always enjoy watching 12s move up in what can be a difficult transition, and today I saw four 13-year-olds who went deep at last year's Junior Orange Bowl win their JOB 14s debut. The 2008 champion Hyeon Chung of Korea made it through four rounds of qualifying this week and defeated Shaquille Taylor of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1 today. 2008 semifinalist Borna Coric of Croatia had a tough test from Andres Alfonzo of Venezuela, who was being watched closely by former Top 10 ATP pro Guillermo Canas, who now has an academy on Key Biscayne. Coric won the match 6-4, 6-2.

American Noah Rubin, a 2008 semifinalist, looked strong in his 6-3, 6-2 win over Aleksei Taranda of Belarus, as did the U.S.'s Christian Garay, who Rubin defeated last year in the quarterfinals. Both boys were striking the ball cleanly and there was no trace of the "12s" style of play remaining in either of their games.

Although I didn't make to any other sites, I do have a few reports. Brooke Austin, the top seed in the 14s, got past a tricky first round opponent in U.S. qualifier Denise Starr. Eddie Herr 12s winners Mariya Shishkina and Stefan Kozlov had no difficulty advancing to the second round. Spencer Furman took out Sinan Orhon of Turkey, a No. 1 seed, without losing a game in the boys 12s.

The weather forecast is again calling for rain on Friday.

For more information on revised Friday match times, see the TennisLink site. For more on Austin's and Newman's matches, see the Junior Orange Bowl site.