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Friday, January 15, 2010

Domijan and McHale Fall in Three Sets at Plantation; Plaza Cup Draws Released, with Play Beginning at 8 am Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Plantation, FL--

Teenagers Christina McHale and Alex Domijan started out well in their quarterfinal matches at the Pro Circuit tournaments in Plantation, but neither was able to recover from poor second sets, and the pair failed to advance to Saturday's semifinals. McHale fell to No. 1 seed Maret Ani of Estonia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Domijan was defeated by fellow qualifier Jean-Noel Insausti of France 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Much balmier weather was a welcome relief from the record cold that has gripped South Florida for the past 12 days, but with it came some gusty winds that made for adventurous service tosses, and both McHale and Ani struggled to hold serve throughout the match.

McHale fell behind 2-0 to start the match, but reeled off six straight games, making virtually no errors during that stretch, and running Ani from side to side. The 27-year-old Ani on the other hand, couldn't find the court, or rather couldn't find anything but the net, as many of her errors didn't reach McHale's side of the court. Ani didn't help her cause by double faulting away two service games, the last double fault coming on set point.

At the set break, it was as if the two players swapped games, in some sort of bizarre tennis version of duplicate bridge. McHale's errors began to pile up, with her forehand sailing long, and her first serve nowhere to be found. She lost eight straight points early in the second set, and when she got one of the breaks back, she was immediately broken; there was a series of five straight service breaks to close out the second set.

In the third set, Ani saved a break point in the opening game, but McHale couldn't overcome two double faults in her first service game. Then McHale picked up her game, winning eight straight points to take a 0-40 lead with Ani serving at 2-2. But Ani saved all three of those break points and another one in the three-deuce game, playing much more assured tennis when she was on the brink. Trailing 2-3, it was then McHale's turn to save three break points, but unlike Ani, she couldn't save a fourth, with a double fault at deuce contributing to the break. Ani saved another break point in the next game, taking a 5-2 lead, but McHale suddenly began to recognize that she had to play more aggressively. She stepped in more often, held for 5-3--only her third hold since the first game of the second set--then broke Ani at 15 to get back on serve.

McHale quickly fell behind 0-30 and a forehand wide, with the wind assisting it, left her staring at three match points. She saved the first with a service winner and the second with a forehand winner down the line, but on the third, her forehand went just long, putting Ani in the semifinals, where she will meet No. 3 seed Johanna Larson of Sweden.

Domijan's match with Insausti was beginning as McHale's was drawing to a close, and unlike his second round match of Thursday, Domijan was off to a flying start. Domijan broke the 25-year-old from France in the third game and in the seventh, and was serving so well that it looked as if Insausti would need to win a tiebreaker in the second set to have a chance.

But after a bathroom break, Insausti returned a different player. He began to read Domijan's serve, and his returns were more offensive than defensive. Unable to get any free points from his serve or from weak returns, Domijan had to stay in long rallies, and Insausti, who had made a slew of unforced errors in the first set, simply outlasted him. So clean was Insausti's play in the second set that Domijan didn't even have a game point on his own serve.

Domijan, like Insausti playing in his seventh match in eight days, didn't look tired, but he couldn't match Insausti's quickness, and Domijan had particular trouble when Insausti served into his body. Domijan had a chance to turn the momentum in his favor in the second game of the third set, but he couldn't convert his game point and a double fault and a forehand into the net gave Insausti his eighth game in a row. He extended that to nine, taking a 3-0 lead, and it was all he would need, as Domijan would not get a break point chance the rest of the way.

Serving for the match at 5-3, Insausti showed off his variety at 30-30, hitting a tricky slice volley that Domijan had no chance to reach. The subsequent match point also found Insausti at the net, and he hit a more conventional deep volley to earn his spot in the semifinals. He will play fellow qualifier Marco Mirnegg of Austria. The other semifinal features Morgan Phillips of Great Britain and No. 3 seed Benoit Paire of France.

While the two American teens were not able to reach the semifinals, 16-year-old Alja Tomljanovic of Croatia managed to come back from the loss of the first set for the second straight day, defeating wild card Ahsha Rolle 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. Tomljanovic, a qualifier, will play No. 4 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Karolina Kosinska of Poland in Friday's other quarterfinal.

For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.

The Tennis Plaza Cup, which is a regional level 3 USTA tournament for four age divisions, begins tomorrow, and I'll be at the Salvadore Park site in Coral Gables most of the time. That site, where the girls 12s Junior Orange Bowl is held, has the boys and girls 18s and the girls 14s on its 13 courts. Floridians Danny Riggs and Bianca Sanon are the top seeds in the 18s. I will also try to get to the Biltmore, where the boys 16s are being played, as that field is chock full of the U.S. players from the boys 14s Junior Orange Bowl, with one who wasn't at the Junior Orange Bowl, Gordon Watson, the top seed.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.


David said...

Nick Chappell beat Gianni Mina in straight sets at the ITF event in Australia. That's sort of unexpected.

Riga said...

Want to see new players in WTA tour

getreal said...

to david

great for chappell but a lot of the top seeds, including frank, lost in the first or second rd. what is with that tournament in australia. very odd

McLovin said...

Sean Berman got a wildcard in the Aussie Men's Qualies, huh?norrhopi

Red said...

Thought you'd like to know that just this last week, Tomic has beaten Ginepri, Stepanek and Djokovic. There mightn't have been any points involved but its a big effort from a kid.

getreal said...

Red, The only problem with that is it didn't count. How much effort do you think those guys put into an Exho.

Red said...


Sure, it's only an exo (I did say there were no points involved -figured people who know what that meant), but when you're a junior or even if you're just a struggling player on tour a win like that is a huge deal. It just gives you so much confidence to know that when those guys give you the chance you're good enough to take it. Winning tennis matches is all about taking opportunities.

You sound like someone who never had to deal with the insecurity of going from being a junior to playing against pros. Its so easy to be cynical when you've never been in that position and dont have any clue what you're talking about.

Clueless RED said...

Red, Get a clue: I've been there and done that at both levels. The point is if he played those guys this week when it mattered he would get hammered. It may give him very slight confidence at best. Winning tennis matches IS all about opportunities WHEN THEY COUNT. Tomic knows the other guys aren't going all out. I'm not cynical I'm someone who has been there and done that on both sides of the fence. Perhaps you should get a clue from someone who has gone through it as I have and knows 1st hand.

Red said...


I'm sorry, but I don't believe you. If you really had 'been there and done that' you'd be happy and proud to actually use your real name. Otherwise, you're just some pathetic guy hiding behind an assumed name who gets his exercise punching keys and his kicks ragging on kids. You're nothing more than a pathetic clown and if you really had any idea about tennis or even sport in general you wouldn't have said something as stupid as "Winning tennis matches IS all about opportunities WHEN THEY COUNT". Apart from that not being a complete sentence, it's just a dead give away that you've never played any kind of sport, not just tennis.

Man in the Moon said...

get real, clueless Red or whatever name you choose today,

in case you didn't pay attention to the Australian Open (you know the tournament that COUNTS)

Tomic in 3 -- over the 172 player in the world- and you can bet that player knew that it COUNTS.

Don't get it said...

Red and Man in the Moon, Assumed names otherwise you would post your real names. To play a guy 178 in the world in the 1st rd. of a major is the absolute best draw possible. The kid is good for his age for sure. You dingdongs both missed the point. You made an isssue of his beating top players in an exhibition format. As I said, he would not beat any of them if it mattered. Wake up!Nobody was even critical of him. Just stating the truth. You sports star you.

Man in the Moon said...

get real, clueless Red, don't get it, etc. etc.

How can you comment about not using real names -- when you are exactly the same (not using your real name).

Oh, I get it you been there and done that on both levels.

If you want to debate points -- fine, but using names such as dingdongs - doesn't quite cut it.

now go back and teach your 8 year old students - "to move their feet"

enjoy the day