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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tomljanovic Defeats No. 2 Seed Haynes; McHale, Domijan Reach Quarterfinals in Plantation

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Plantation, FL

There seems to be an infinite number of venues for Pro Circuit events in Florida, and today we got our first look at one we hadn't seen in the past three years of covering Florida's January Pro Circuit--the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, just west of Ft. Lauderdale. Located in a large public park that provides all the requisite recreational facilities, the tennis center was bustling with activity, even though the women's $25,000 and the men's $10,000 tournaments were using only eight of the courts. The contrast between league players and the pros is often jarring when they are playing side-by-side, but it's great when a facility is capable of accommodating both.

After chatting with some players and families I hadn't seen in a while, I made my way over to court T to watch the only main draw match scheduled for 10 a.m., qualifier Alja Tomljanovic versus No. 2 seed Angela Haynes. This was a rematch of last January, when Haynes, the No. 1 seed in the Boca Raton $25,000 tournament, fell to qualifier Tomljanovic in the first round, although in the interim, Haynes had beaten Tomljanovic in the first round at Indian Wells in straight sets. Today, Haynes won the first set 6-4, with the 16-year-old Croatian, who trains at the Evert Academy, winning the second by the same score. Tomljanovic took a 3-0, two-break lead in the third set before Haynes got one of those breaks back but Haynes struggled to hold serve at 3-5, saving at least one match point, and the effort to hold left her without much energy for the next game. Tomljanovic held at love to complete the 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 upset, which took over two-and-a-half hours to play, earning herself a quarterfinal berth against wild card Ahsha Rolle, who also won a long, tough match, beating No. 6 seed Olga Puchkova 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

Qualifier Beatrice Capra couldn't extend her streak of wins to five, with the 17-year-old from Maryland, who is now also training at Evert's, dropping a 6-2, 6-2 decision to Karolina Kosinska of Poland. Capra had a break point opportunity in all of Kosinska's service games in the first set, and she converted on two of them, but she couldn't hold her own serve even once. Kosinska displayed some soft hands and often surprised Capra with her shot selection, which included drop shots, angles and once, a moonball so deep and so high Capra was unable to track it down before banging into the back fence. After the first set, which took over an hour, Kosinska continued to keep Capra off balance, closing the second set even more efficiently. Capra could not be too disappointed with her tournament however, since the injury that caused her to retire from the Orange Bowl had kept her from training for most of December.

Alex Domijan, another qualifier who is coming off an injury, got off to a very slow start against No. 4 seed Artem Sitak of Russia, falling behind 4-1 in the first set.

"I was missing everything," said Domijan, who had a toe injury that kept him from training in December. "Then I just started making everything. I changed my racquet; maybe that was it, I don't know."

Sitak was serving for the first set at 5-3, but the unforced errors that were coming off Domijan's racquet in the first few games gravitated to his. He was broken at love, and when Domijan held, Sitak had lost his momentum. Although he held in the next game, Sitak played poorly in the tiebreaker, with many more errors than winners.

The 18-year-old from Wesley Chapel, Fla. had something that Sitak did not--the ability to hit a clean forehand winner, and once Domijan began to stay in the points longer he had a chance to hit it. In the second set, which I saw only a few minutes of, the match continued to be very close, but Domijan held at the crucial 4-4 game, saving a break point, and Sitak was under pressure from the start serving at 4-5. Sitak saved two match points at 15-40, when an ace and a Domijan forehand long got it back to deuce, but he failed to convert his only game point, and Domijan got his sixth win since last Friday on the third match point. Domijan's opponent in the quarterfinals is another qualifier, Jean-Noel Insausti of France.

Scoville Jenkins, the top seed, escaped with a 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 win, after his opponent, Marius Copil of Romania served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Former Florida Gator Greg Ouellette outlasted qualifier Deniss Pavlovs of Latvia 4-6, 6-6, 6-4 in a match that took nearly three hours to complete.

Number seven seed Christina McHale took considerably less time to dispose of Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, rolling past the former WTA Top 50 player 6-3, 6-0.

"I think we were both really nervous in the beginning," McHale said, "but then I really got in a groove."

Lucic had difficulty coping with McHale's first serve, and the 27-year-old could not find any rhythm at all, with most of the rallies ending with her unforced errors. McHale, who did not travel to Australia because she was several spots out of women's qualifying when a decision was necessary, has lost only five games in her first two wins. She faces a tough test on Friday against top seed Maret Ani of Estonia, who is 164 in the WTA rankings and won her second round match against Great Britain's Georgie Stoop today 6-0, 6-2.

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