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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Levine's Upset of No. 8 Seed Lipman Highlights Second Round of 16s Nationals

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Kalamazoo MI--

The 16s division takes center stage on Sunday at the Boys 18 and 16 National Championships, and the dawn-to-dusk singles action at Stowe Stadium produced a couple of impressive comebacks.

Topping the list of turnarounds was Josh Levine's 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 8 seed Maxx Lipman, a match that had all the pressure of a Stowe Stadium front court (No. 2) and a large lunchtime crowd. Although Levine had played on a front court in his opening round match Saturday, he admitted that the atmosphere resulted in jitters today as well.

"I came out a little nervous--center courts, eighth seed, Kalamazoo--but after that first set I kept my composure and got it together," said the 16-year-old from Syosset, New York.

The 16s division still mandates a 10 minute break between the second and third sets, and despite having the momentum of winning the second set, Levine took the hiatus in stride.

"I talked to my dad and he gave me some good advice," said Levine. "Stay with it, keep doing what you're doing. This kid's nervous, he's seeded, so just go out there and do your best, fight."

Levine called the win over Lipman one of his best, and put his level of play in the last two sets at 9 and a half on a scale of 1 to 10.

"It's an even bigger win since it's at Kalamazoo," Levine said. "I just feel great right now."

Gordon Watson, the fifth seed, was making his debut in Kalamazoo, after a bout with Lyme disease kept him from competing at the Nationals last year. The 2010 Easter Bowl champion's first set of singles at Kalamazoo was just short of a nightmare, but he didn't panic, earning a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Luca Corinteli.

"In the beginning I was nervous, he was nervous, but he hit a couple of really good shots to get the break and then he just outplayed me in the first set," Watson said. "I made a few unforced errors, missed too many first serves, and he capitalized on that."

Corinteli, who turn 15 last month, was playing a very big game, and his first serve was regularly clocked at over 100 mph by the center court radar gun. But as the match wore on, Watson began to read the serve better and get his returns in play more often, while protecting his own serve. Watson was not broken in the second set, breaking Corinteli twice, and then Watson got an unusual break of serve to open the third set, when Corinteli was penalized for returning to the court late after the 10 minute break.

"He was really frustrated. He thought the ref had called time when he was walking on the court, but it was before. He thought it was unfair," said Watson. "That really helped me in the first three or four games, because he was still mad at that."

Corinteli held serve once in the final set, but his errors mounted, while Watson kept the pressure on.

"I think the mental really got to him, because he was so frustrated after that game penalty," Watson said. "You got to keep your head strong, no matter what happens out there with the ref or the ball kids or whatever. You've just got to keep a level head."

In addition to Lipman, four other seeded players lost in Sunday's second round. Trey Strobel defeated No. 12 seed Anthony Tsodikov 6-3, 6-2, Brendan Aguilar downed Alex Van Cott, seeded 13th, 6-1, 6-0, Zachary Mueck beat No. 12 seed Corey Robinson 6-2, 7-5, and in a very entertaining and high quality match, Trey Daniel defeated No. 28 seed Gregory Garcia 6-4, 6-4 Sunday evening.

The only 18s action on Sunday was in doubles, at Western Michigan University. Seven of the top eight seeds were in action, and all of them advanced to the round of 16, scheduled for Tuesday.

For complete draws, see ustaboys.com.