Thursday, September 9, 2010

Anderson's Run Continues with Win Over Robson; Stephens Beats Roland Garros Champion; King and Kudla Enjoy Final Junior Tournament

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

On a mostly cloudy, cool and breezy day that produced brisk sales in U.S. Open sweatshirts, qualifier Robin Anderson of New Jersey scored the biggest win of her junior career, defeating No. 8 seed Laura Robson of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2. She is joined in the quarterfinals by No. 15 seed Sloane Stephens, who ousted No. 4 seed and Roland Garros girls champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4, 6-0.

Anderson admitted after the match that she was "very nervous" serving out the match against the powerful 16-year-old left-hander from London, but it didn't show in the final game. Down 0-30 after Robson's two winners, Anderson was able to get in back to 30-30 even though she had yet to get a first serve in. Robson had her chance to put pressure on Anderson after another forehand winner, but the unforced errors that plagued her throughout the match reappeared. With Anderson out of position, Robson hit a forehand wide for deuce and on the next point, a backhand error gave Anderson a match point.

Robson controlled it, but Anderson's court coverage and superb defensive skills eventually gave her the advantage, and with a forehand winner she earned a spot in the quarterfinals of her first junior slam.

Asked to compare her win to that of her first round victory over No. 11 seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, Anderson said:

"In the first round I felt she hit the ball much bigger, but also she made a lot of errors. Laura, today she did make a lot of errors, but not quite as much, and I also thought I played a little better in this match than I did in my first match."

Stephens was frustrated by the gusty winds, but felt she handled it better than her opponent.

"She was having trouble with the wind and her ground strokes," said Stephens, who still considers herself a Florida girl, despite living and training at the USTA Center in Carson, Calif. "She would hit some, and the wind would take it, and I could see she was losing a little bit of confidence after a couple of shots went out. I just tried to stay focused on what I was trying to do, and it worked."

Anderson will play top seed and Youth Olympic gold medalist Daria Gavrilova of Russia in the quarterfinals, while Stephens is up against Australia Open girls champion Karolina Pliskova, the No. 6 seed, of the Czech Republic.

Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, at No. 5 the only seed remaining in the bottom half, will face unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Russia for a place in her first grand slam semifinal. The other girls quarterfinal will feature Caroline Garcia of France, who beat American Sachia Vickery 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday, against fellow unseeded player Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

Three of the seven U.S. boys playing Thursday advanced, with Denis Kudla outlasting his close friend and rival Evan King 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4. Down a set and facing two break points at 3-4, 15-40 in the second, Kudla wriggled out of that precarious position when King just missed a volley on the first break point, and Kudla hit an ace. Kudla broke King at love in the 12th game to even the match, and continued to approach the net to end points in the third set, which featured just one break of serve.

"It wasn't my strategy before the match, but it turned into my strategy," said Kudla. "I saw I was trying not to miss, it was windy, and I thought he was trying to do the same thing, and he was staying with me. So I said, okay I have to do something else, I've got to win these points. So instead of hitting 500 balls down the middle I tried to come to the net, and luckily I volleyed really well today, and it helped me."

In their joint press conference, the pair talked about the experience of playing on Louis Armstrong Stadium in front of a live Tennis Channel audience with the radar guns and the Hawkeye challenge system.

"I enjoyed it," Kudla said. "Unfortunately and fortunately, I got to play Evan, but it's definitely something I'll remember."

"I loved it," King said. "When I saw the schedule I was pumped up, because 1, we had a radar gun, and 2, we had the challenge system, which I probably used a little too much," King said, producing laughter among the reporters present. "It was just a great experience...how many times will you get to play on the biggest second court in tennis, and I got to play my bud on it. Those are good times."

Kudla will play unseeded Filip Horansky of Slovakia in the quarterfinals. The other top half quarterfinal will pit No. 4 seed Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic against No. 8 seed Agustin Velotti of Argentina.

Wild card Jack Sock had lost in the third round to top seed Yuki Bhambri of India on Louis Armstrong Stadium at last year's U.S. Open junior championships, but he erased all bad memories on that court with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory there Thursday over No. 5 seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia.

Up an early break in the first set, Sock lost it in what he called a "loose game" at 4-3, and serving at 5-6, Dzumhur had two set points. Sock saved the first with a forehand/backhand combination that the Bosnian could not handle and the second with a perfectly executed forehand winner. In the ensuing tiebreak, Sock took control early, and kept the momentum by breaking Dzumhur in the second game of the second set. Although Dzhumur, the ITF Canadian Open champion, had several more chances to get the break back, Sock was able to repel them all, and there was no drama in the final game, with Sock serving it out at love.

Sock will play No. 13 seed Victor Baluda of Russia, who upset No. 3 seed and Australian Open champion Tiago Fernandes of Brazil 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Dennis Novikov defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 7-5, 6-3 in a battle of unseeded players, but the opportunity for an all-American quarterfinal was dashed when No. 2 seed and Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary beat No. 16 seed Mitchell Frank 6-4, 6-1.

In the doubles, there is just one American remaining--Sloane Stephens, who with Hungarian partner Timea Babos has won the last two junior slams. On Thursday, Babos and Stephens, the No. 3 seeds, beat unseeded Nicole Gibbs and Kyle McPhillips 6-2, 6-2. Anderson and Monica Turewicz lost to the Chinese team of Hao Chen Tang and Ran Tian 1-6, 6-2, 11-9.

The last remaining boys team from the U.S. lost in Thursday's quarterfinals. Sock and Andrea Collarini were defeated by Baluda and Alexander Rumyantsev 4-6, 6-7(2), 10-5.

For more coverage of the U.S. Open, see collegeandjuniortennis.com. For complete results and order of play, see usopen.org.


Tyler said...

The USTA has all or a majority of the children playing tennis in 10 and under going to the sponge bob ball and smaller courts? I'm guessing all the 7, 8, 9 and ten year old players who are very good for their age with the big normal yellow tennis ball are all going to 12 and under tournaments. Brilliant, simply brilliant! Oh and Florida, just moved their designated tournaments from a 64 draw to 32 draw. The fastest growing state has now reduced a second format. The USTA doesn't get it...the more they try to funnel players, parents and coaches, the more players, parents and coaches look for alternatives.

tennisforlife said...

Yes - the good 9 and 10 year olds will just start playing lower level 12 and under tournaments. I'm surprised there has not been more comment on the changes the USTA have made to the national tournament format for 2011. Unless i am doing the maths wrong it seem that the new format will result in a dramatic decrease in the number of spots available in national draws compared to the current system. I'm not sure how this counts as progress. The obvious offset to this would be a revamping of the sectional designated tournaments with more points pre round allocated to those events and more places available. California has open entry to their designated tournaments while it sounds like Florida restricts entry and is reducing the draw sizes.That kind of inconsistency will end up making a mockery of any national ranking system that emerges from this. Tournament access and a credible ranking system espacially at the younger age groups is central to competitive tennis. This may end up being a real step backwards for competitive tennis here.

T. Rosenthal said...

Just because some people aren't going to initially like the 10-and-under changes doesn't mean it's not the right move. It's the smart thing to do for the future of the sport in America, and sometimes that means you have to endure short-term struggles for long-term gains.

It's very simple: Little League doesn't have 90-foot bases, 8-year-olds aren't shooting full-sized basketballs at 10-foot hoops, etc. There's no reason tennis shouldn't be doing the same thing. Other nations have been using smaller equipment and courts for a long time, and it's clearly working for them. This is the right move, despite all of the hand-wringing from parents who think THEIR kid is too good to play with smaller equipment and foam balls.

duh said...

tennnis for life

ranking young children in anything, especially and\ advanced activity such as tennis, when they have only learned a fraction of the game, is pointless and meaningless. the ranking has no meaning.