Top Seed Austin Tested But Advances; Third Seed Pasha Falls to Isoh in Spring Nationals Fourth Round
©Colette Lewis 2010--
Boys top seed Gonzales Austin has been working on controlling his emotions, and it paid off during Wednesday's rain-delayed fourth round action at the Spring 18s Nationals. Down a break in the third set against unseeded Nick Papac, Austin kept his composure, made a strategic adjustment and earned a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win.
"I've been getting really frustrated in practices in the past couple of months and my coach gave me some advice," said the 17-year-old from Miami, who spent the morning with his fellow competitors, waiting for the courts to dry when a steady rain gave way to cool and cloudy conditions. "He said create something in your head where you do this thing first, before you react. So I do a little ritual after I miss an easy ball, or even after I hit a good shot, and by the time I'm done with it, I don't feel like reacting to it anymore."
Papac, who has impressed all observers with his game this week, broke Austin at 4-4 in the second set, then held at love to even the match. Continuing to keep Austin on the defensive with a penetrating forehand, Papac broke his fellow left-hander at 2-2. But Austin immediately broke back, with Papac showing his first sign of tentativeness by double faulting at 15-40.
That blip was a rare one, however, as both boys played with controlled aggression throughout the third set, and most points won were the result of winners or forced errors. Austin finally began to figure out how to cope with Papac's defense, although he conceded that he never did find a way to neutralize the Californian's forehand.
"I tried to get it to his backhand, but he had a great defensive slice, that he put low on me every time," Austin said. "I struggled with it at first, but once I started to get a rhythm on the slice, timing it correctly and moving forward correctly, I started hitting better shots off the slice. I should have kept it away from his forehand the whole time, but I didn't do it, and it was a tougher match than I expected."
Austin lost only one point on his serve in the seventh and ninth games, while Papac had to survive three deuces before winning the eighth game. With Papac serving in the final game of the match, Austin hit a perfect crosscourt forehand pass to get to 0-30, and at 15-30, Papac was forced into a defensive forehand slice, which landed just long. With his first match point, Austin hit a forehand approach so well that he didn't need to volley, with Papac's response failing to clear the net.
Austin, who had won his three previous matches in straight sets, believes winning a close match will help him.
"I might be a little tired, but I think it was good. I needed that challenge," said Austin. "I haven't been challenged really in the early rounds, so that was good. It kind of woke me up to the competition I was going to see later on."
In Thursday's quarterfinal, the reigning USTA Boys 16 National champion will play No. 6 seed Greg Andrews, who defeated No. 15 seed Jeffrey Offerdahl 6-1, 6-4 Wednesday.
Two No. 17 seeds will meet in the other top half quarterfinal. Asika Isoh of New York frustrated No. 3 seed Nathan Pasha and went on to claim a quick 6-1, 6-3 victory. Isoh's opponent on Thursday will be Chase Curry, who took out fellow Texan Jose Martinez, who was unseeded, 6-2, 6-4.
Gregory Scott, the lone unseeded player remaining in either singles draw, will face No. 7 seed Emmett Egger. Scott outlasted No. 17 seed Raleigh Smith 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2, while Egger dominated unseeded wild card Spencer Newman 6-2, 6-4. No. 9 seed Bjorn Fratangelo breezed by unseeded Andranik Khachatryan 6-1, 6-0 and will meet second seed Blake Bazarnik on Thursday.
Bazarnik survived his third three-setter of the week against No. 14 seed Harry Seaborn, emerging with a 1-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory.
As has been the case throughout the week, the girls draw was again more to form, and all fourth round matches were straight-set wins. The only minor upset saw Katie Goepel, a No. 17 seed, defeat No. 11 seed Alexandra Leatu 6-3, 6-2. Goepel's quarterfinal opponent will be fifth seed Krista Hardebeck, who beat Catherine Harrison, a No. 17 seed, 6-3, 6-2. The second No. 17 seed to reach the quarterfinals is Julie Vrabel, who eliminated the last unseeded girl, Ellie Yates, by a 6-3, 6-2 score. Vrabel's opponent Thursday is No. 8 seed Robin Anderson, who downed No. 17 seed Kristen Dodge 6-2, 6-4.
In the bottom half of the draw, the quarterfinals are exactly as anticipated according to the seeding. No. 7 seed Monica Turewicz will play No. 3 seed Danielle Collins, and No. 6 seed Whitney Kay will face no. 2 seed Lilly Kimbell. Turewicz defeated no. 17 seed Lynda Xepoleas 6-2, 6-4, while Collins stopped No. 17 seed Hanna Mar 6-3, 6-3. Kay got the better of No. 17 seed Annie Sullivan 6-4, 6-3 and Kimbell had a much easier time than she did in her three-set win on Tuesday, beating No. 10 seed Anna Mamalat 6-0, 6-3.
The doubles semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, and although there are still quarterfinal matches underway due to the rain and back draw conflicts, the top seeded teams in both boys and girls draws have advanced. Defending champions Emina Bektas and Lilly Kimbell defeated Jacqueline Crawford and Whitney Kay, a No. 9 seed, 6-1, 6-3. The top seeded boys team of Chase Curry and Jeffrey Offerdahl advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win tonight over unseeded Casey Kay and Grant Roberts.
For complete draws, including the consolation results, see the TennisLink site.
For the third day's video from Dave "Koz" Kozlowski at indietennis.com, click here.