Friday, April 9, 2010

SoCal Wild Cards Reach Semis at International Spring Championships

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Carson, CA--

Krista Hardebeck and Daniel Kosakowski have made the most of their wild cards, reaching the semifinals of the Grade 1 ITF International Spring Championships with victories Friday at the Home Depot Center.

Hardebeck, of Santa Ana, Calif., defeated No. 6 seed Monica Turewicz 6-4, 6-3, while Kosakowski, of Downey, Calif., took out top seed Raymond Sarmiento 6-1, 6-4.

Although both are reigning champions of USTA National 18s tournaments--Hardebeck the Clay Courts and Kosakowski the Winters--they needed wild cards because they don't play the ITF junior circuit. Being an unknown quantity is fine with Hardebeck.

"No one knows who I am, it's great," said Hardebeck, who won the 16s championship here last year, and will face top seed Katarena Paliivets of Canada in a Saturday semfinal."I've never played her, I don't play many ITFs, so I don't really know who she is."

Hardebeck, who is now coached by Robert Van't Hof, said she has been pleased with her play this week and with her concentration level.

"It was a really good match, Monica's a really good player," said the 15-year-old right-hander. "She's tough, and she doesn't like giving up and she doesn't like losing, so I knew I had to stay focused the whole match."

Unlike Hardebeck who has won all four of her matches in straight sets, Paliivets needed a third set to advance for the third consecutive day. Against No. 5 seed Madison Keys, Paliivets took a 3-0 lead in the third set, and serving at 4-2, had four chances to take a 5-2 lead. She couldn't convert however, and Keys leveled the match at 4-4. Serving to force a tiebreaker, Keys, in her first tournament back from a wrist injury, went up 30-0, but lost the next four points. Not content to stay at the baseline, Keys continued to move toward the net to end points, only to either miss the finishing volleys or be passed by Paliivets.

In the other girls 18s semifinal, No. 8 seed Sachia Vickery will meet unseeded Juliana Gajic of Canada. Vickery defeated wild card Emina Bektas 7-5, 6-1, while Gajic ended the run of lucky loser Sarah Lee 6-1, 6-3.

The boys 18s semifinals will feature two UCLA recruits, and Bruin head coach Billy Martin was among the spectators this morning, watching both Kosakowski and Clay Thompson claim victories. Kosakowski, who is hoping for an all-UCLA final, was forced to stay patient agsinst USC recruit Sarmiento, who had treatment from the trainer on several occasions.

"I didn't really like how he took treatment in the middle of the game," Kosakowski said of Sarmiento's injury timeout when serving at 1-3, 0-30 in the second set. "But there was nothing I could do, but try to stay focused. I came here to win the match, so I'm not going to get mad just because he's getting treatment."

Although Sarmiento won that game, he was broken the next time he served, giving Kosakowski an opportunity to finish it on his own serve. He was broken for the first time in the match, but there was no change in his demeanor and no sign of any nerves.

"I knew I had another chance to serve it out, and I trusted my serve," said Kosakowski, who will not be competing in next week's Easter Bowl due to school.

In that final service game, Kosakowski looked very relaxed, getting out to a 30-0 lead and finishing the upset with a textbook backhand volley winner.

Kosakowski will meet the last seeded player remaining in the draw, No. 6 Nick Chappell. Chappell won the battle of left-handers, beating unseeded Gonzales Austin 6-3, 6-0.

After two consecutive dramatic wins, the unseeded Thompson had a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over recent USTA Spring National champion Bjorn Fratangelo, also unseeded. Thompson took advantage of Fratangelo's serving woes, teeing off on the second serve while serving very well himself.

If Thompson is to make it an all-UCLA final, he will need to get by unseeded Dan McCall, who played his best match of the tournament in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over wild card Spencer Newman.

The 16s finals are set, with No. 11 seed Thai Kwiatkowski meeting No. 9 seed Jordan Daigle in the boys championships match and No. 10 Alyssa Smith taking on No. 7 seed Mayo Hibi for the girls title.

Kwiatkowski downed No. 8 seed TJ Pura 6-2, 6-1, while Daigle got a late break and hold to defeat wild card Luca Corinteli 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

Smith battled past unseeded Kiah Generette 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, while Hibi defeated No. 6 seed Mia King 6-4, 6-3 to set up an all-Southern California final.

The girls 16s doubles final will feature a rarity: the No. 1 seeds vs. the No. 2 seeds. Top seeds Brooke Austin and King will face Hibi and Skylar Morton. In contrast, the boys 16s doubles final will be between two unseeded teams: Jonathan Hammel and Alex Scheinman will take on Jonathan Poon and Seth Stolar.

In the 18s doubles, the semis and the finals will both be played on Saturday, since there are no conflicts with the singles semifinals. Top girls seeds Lauren Herring and Grace Min have reached the semifnals, as have boys No. 1 seeds Darien King and Sarmiento.

For complete results and Saturday's order of play, see the tournament website.


wi tennis said...

Surprise! Surprise! Another one of Robert Van't Hof's students playing really well! The guy is a class act and a heck of a coach! And, as humble as can be.