©Colette Lewis 2010--
When she stepped to the line at 5-3 in the second set, having just broken No. 2 seed Emina Bektas in the second round of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts, Leyla Erkan was serving for her biggest win of the year. She had won the first set 6-4, playing controlled and solid tennis against the error-prone Bektas, and Erkan had continued that steady play throughout the second set.
The nerves that accompany closing out a victory appeared however, and Erkan wasn't able to seize her opportunity; despite taking a 30-0 lead, she double faulted twice and ended up losing the game. But she was determined to take the positives from that misstep.
"I focused, I tried to win that game, fought really hard, even though I lost it," said the 17-year-old, who trains at the Smith-Stearns Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina. "I tried to keep my composure, which I did, and then on her serve, I just tried to get every return in. She has a huge serve."
When it is working, Bektas's first serve can be devastating, and in one game, she aced Erkan three consecutive times. But in that final game, Erkan succeeded in getting her returns in play, and Bektas was unable to eliminate the errors that had plagued her all afternoon. On match point, she missed a sitter at the net, which despite her previous errors, still came as a shock.
Erkan had been playing ITF junior events this year prior to resuming USTA play with two National Opens this summer in Atlanta, and she enjoyed the opportunity to travel and play international competition. She also got a lot of practice on clay, although it still is not her favorite surface.
"I don't really enjoy it; I like hard courts more," Erkan said. "I train on clay at Smith Stearns, so I'm used to it, and I'm able to adjust my game well to play on it."
Two other Top 10 seeds escaped with victories, although both played much longer that they would have liked under the hot afternoon sun, which was only made bearable by a fresh breeze. Kendal Woodard served for the match against No. 9 seed Ronit Yurovsky at 5-3 in the second set, having won the first set 6-4. But Yurovsky broke back, held, won the second set tiebreaker 7-6(4), and took the third set 6-2.
Against No. 3 seed Danielle Collins, Laura Wiley served for the first set twice, but ended up losing it a tiebreaker. Wiley won the second set, was down a break in the third at 4-2, got the break back, then lost her next service game to give Collins the opportunity to serve for the match. In what was a theme of the final games of the match, Collins was broken to make it 5-5 and with Wiley serving in the next game, after six deuces and four game points, Wiley was broken.
This time Collins didn't flinch, winning her service game at love to end the over three-hour match.
Five alphabetically 17th-seeded players lost today. Gabrielle Devlin lost to Alyssa Ritchie 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; Jasmine Minor was beaten by Theresa Smith 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4; Megan Kurey was defeated by Mary Jeremiah 6-2, 6-2; Danielle Flores lost to Lynn Chi 6-1, 6-2 and Molly O'Koniewski was beaten by Emily Flickinger 7-6(5), 6-2.
Top seed Whitney Kay and No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips lost only one game between them in their second round wins.
For complete draws, including doubles, which are now down to the round of 16, see the TennisLink site.
Monday, July 19, 2010