©Colette Lewis 2010--
For three of the four top seeds at the Spring Nationals, the third round looked like it might be the last main draw singles action they would see this week.
Girls No. 2 seed Lilly Kimbell lost the first set to Ronit Yurovsky, a No. 17 seed, and was down a break in the third set. Boys No. 3 seed Nathan Pasha was down 4-2 in the final set against unseeded Jeremy Efferding. Blake Bazarnik, the second-seeded boy, needed to win a third set tiebreaker to get by Danny Riggs, a No. 17 seed. All three managed to do what they needed, and advanced to Wednesday's round of 16.
Bazarnik was up 4-2, 40-0 in the final set against Riggs, but when Bazarnik lost that game, Riggs sensed he still had a chance and played very well in the next five games. Bazarnik seemed reluctant to hit through the ball or play aggressively, while Riggs played excellent defense, kept the ball down the center when he could and rarely making errors. In the tiebreaker, Bazarnik was the steadier player, but he didn't force the issue, relying mostly on Riggs's errors. Bazarnik went up 6-3, but Riggs held his serve on the next two points thanks to two backhand errors by Bazarnik. Perhaps losing that 40-0 lead in the seventh game was on his mind, but on his third match point Bazarnik tried the surprise tactic of serving and volleying. A stunned Riggs did get the volley back in play, but gave Bazarnik an easy putaway at the net, resulting in a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(5) victory.
Kimbell, who is the virtual No. 1 seed with the withdrawal of No. 1 Ellen Tsay, saved three break points at 5-5 in the second set, then broke Yurovsky quickly to even the match. That momentum didn't last long however, as she was broken at 1-1 in the final set. Yurovsky was giving Kimbell fits with her pace and her ability to put away a short ball, but Yurovsky couldn't hold that early break, surrendering her next service game. Kimbell saved a break point in the five-deuce game that followed, then both girls held in the sixth and seventh games. Yurovsky saved a break point, then had a game point serving at 3-4, but a couple of loose points later she gave Kimbell another opportunity to break, and Kimbell seized it.
Serving for the match, Kimbell, who will be attending Georgia this fall, hit a perfect drop shot at 30-30, but Yurovsky saved the ensuing match point. Kimbell got a second one, and pounded a forehand winner, a particularly satisfying ending no doubt, as Yurovsky had been picking on that side throughout the nearly three-hour 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 contest.
Pasha and Efferding, who both train at the USTA's National Center in Boca Raton, were in a similarly heated battle just a few steps away. Pasha won the opening set, then saw the wheels come off, as he dropped the first five games of the second set. He managed to break Efferding serving for the set at 5-0, then held his own serve, but Efferding didn't give him any reason for hope in the next game, holding at love.
Pasha held to start the third set, but was broken at 1-1. Efferding held his next two service games, but serving at 4-3 he double faulted at 30-40 to bring Pasha even. At that stage, Pasha began to play much more aggressively, closing the net when one of his big ground strokes gave him an opening, and finishing with perfectly executed volleys. Serving at 4-5 Efferding saved a match point with a first serve winner, and got his next two first serves in too, winning those points for 5-5.
Getting a first serve winner of his own at 5-5 30-30, Pasha held for 6-5, although he was not playing with the same abandon he had shown in his pervious service game. With Efferding serving to stay in the match, he went up 30-15, but Pasha nestled a forehand with inches of both lines to force an error. After a long rally at 30-30, it was Efferding who blinked, finding the net with a forehand, and Pasha had his second match point. Efferding got his first serve in, but Pasha's return was good, and when an Efferding forehand sailed long, Pasha's comeback was complete.
Top seed Gonzales Austin again posted a straight set victory, defeating Denis Nguyen, a No. 17 seed, 6-3, 6-1. Next up for Austin is unseeded Nick Papac, who continued his run with a 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over unseeded Hunter Callahan.
Papac is one of five unseeded boys to reach the round of 16. Jose Martinez posted the day's biggest upset with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 8 seed Robert Verzaal. Spencer Newman downed No. 16 seed Garrett Brasseaux, Gregory Scott beat unseeded Justin Crenshaw and Andranik Khachatryan defeated unseeded Hunter Reese to advance to the fourth round.
The girls matches have gone more to form, with only one unseeded player left in the final 16--Ellie Yates, who defeated No. 4 seed Emina Bektas on Monday. Today Yates advanced when unseeded Ashley Noyes retired with illness at 3-6 6-0, 3-0. Yates will play Julie Vrabel, a No. 17 seed, who upset No. 13 seed Elizabeth Begley 6-4, 6-3. Annie Sullivan, also a 17 seed, downed No. 14 seed Tessa Lyons 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a three-hour contest.
The doubles quarterfinals are set, and the top seeds in both divisions are still alive. Defending champions and top seed Bektas and Kimbell won in a match tiebreaker this evening over Begley and Blair Shankle. Chase Curry and Jeffrey Offerdahl, the No. 1 seeds in the boys draw, beat Austin and Callahan 6-4, 6-4. This is the first USTA National Championshiop tournament in which a match tiebreaker will be used in lieu of a third set in the early rounds. (The first round was mistakenly played under the 2009 rules). The third sets in the semifinals and finals will be played out.
For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
For the day 2 coverage of the Spring Nationals at Inside Tennis with The Koz, see indietennis.com.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010