©Colette Lewis 2010--
With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, the third day of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts certainly had its challenges.
Catherine Harrison, the No. 5 seed, who is from suburban Memphis, had the most benign conditions, with an 8 a.m. start time on Stadium Court. After barely an hour, she had powered past Madeleine Hamilton 6-2, 6-3 and could go home to the air conditioning, but the rest of the field wasn't so fortunate.
There were main draw matches played at two other sites in addition to the main site, the Racquet Club of Memphis, where I stayed throughout the day. While the day's first round of consolation matches occupied nine of the ten RCM courts, the Stadium Court was reserved for main draw matches, and following Harrison's win another Tennessee player took the court, Caitlyn Williams, a No. 17 seed. Williams and Indiana's Katie Klyczek battled for two hours and 45 minutes before moving to a third set tiebreaker to decide it, but that ended quickly, with Klyczek winning every point to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(0) victory.
Klyczek, who had plenty of power on her serve and her ground strokes, got the only break of the third set at 5-5, but she was unable to serve it out, making an unforced error at 30-40. That was the last unforced error Klyczek would make, as Williams simply could not keep a ball in the court or over the net in the tiebreaker.
As the temperature continued to climb, the remaining main draw matches began to reclaim the other courts. Top seed Whitney Kay looked as if she might be an upset victim when she dropped her serve at 5-5 in the first set on a double fault, and Hailey Johnson held in her service game to claim the lead. That would be the last time Johnson would hold her serve in the match, as Kay eliminated the uncharacteristic errors that popped in the first set, and won ten straight games before Johnson finally ended the streak by breaking Kay. The players were required to take a heat break after the second set, but it didn't change the momentum, with Kay rolling to a 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 win.
While I was watching the end of Kay's win, No. 3 Danielle Collins was falling behind Rachael Reed 5-0 in a match played on one of the three lower courts. Collins, who had barely escaped Laura Wiley 7-5 in the third on Monday, fought back to force a tiebreaker in the first set, but when Reed won it, the wheels fell off for Collins and she was beaten 7-6(7), 6-1.
Reed blamed her nerves and Collins's improved play for the disappearance of her big lead in the first set.
"I started getting really nervous and she started playing much better," said the 16-year-old from The Woodlands, Texas. "She was striking the ball more. In the tiebreaker, I just wanted to get off to a good start and keep doing what I was doing that got me to 5-0. I started putting pressure on her and moving into the court."
Reed had no trouble matching Collins's power and Collins became increasingly frustrated with her own errors. Although she finished sixth here in 2009, she never looked comfortable on the clay and was not able to find any rhythm in the second set.
"I wasn't expecting to do so well playing on clay," said Reed, who was a finalist at the 16s Winter Nationals in January. "I'm more of a hard court players and I don't have a lot of experience playing on clay courts. I played the Intersectionals, but I usually don't play on clay. I'm more of a one-two punch sort of player, take a lot of balls on the rise, go for more and be in the court. This, you can't hit every ball as hard as you can. It's really about placement and working the point."
Collins was not the only Top 8 seed to lose on Tuesday. No. 6 seed Elizabeth Begley was beaten by Ashley Dai 6-2, 6-2 and No. 7 seed Hanna Yu lost to Aria Lambert 7-6(3), 7-6(1). Of the 32 seeds who should be playing on Wednesday, only 14 are.
For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010