Saturday, September 25, 2010

Juniors Continue to Impress at Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Napa Valley, CA--

The second day at the Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic didn't begin well for the USTA junior contingent, as they lost three of the first four matches to collegians. But the afternoon series of matches all went to the juniors, as Mitchell Frank, Jack Sock, Alexios Halebian and Mitchell Krueger remained undefeated going into the final round robin matches on Sunday.

It was an unseasonably warm day in the Napa Valley, although the tree-lined courts at the Meadowood Resort provided welcome shade to the several hundred spectators, many of them Cal-Berkeley fans, who came to watch the some of the best juniors in the United States play top collegians.

Bjorn Fratangelo won his first match of the weekend, beating USC freshman Raymond Sarmiento 6-0, 6-3. Back in April, Sarmiento, the top seed, was to play Fratangelo in the first round of the Easter Bowl, but Sarmiento came down with an illness and Fratangelo went on to win the tournament. After a tough three-set loss to Kentucky's Eric Quigley on Friday, Fratangelo showed no signs of fatigue, and played very well against an erratic Sarmiento.

Dennis Nevolo of the University of Illinois was prepared and focused against 15-year-old Mackenzie McDonald, who had won his opening match on Friday. McDonald's match was of particular interest to ESPN television commentator Brad Gilbert, who graduated from Piedmont High School, which McDonald now attends, but Gilbert's presence could do nothing to help McDonald in the first five games, all of which went to Nevolo. McDonald made it more competitive in the subsequent games, but lost 6-1, 6-2.

"I definitely came prepared," said Nevolo, a junior ranked 26th in the preseason rankings. "Coach told me he had won the day before, so I knew he was going to be a tough competitor, but I didn't know anything about him. He definitely has a mature game for his age. I just overpowered him a little bit, but it's clear in a few years he's going to be a really good player."

Many of the spectators who crowded the deck and terrace at Meadowood came to watch Sock, although the majority of them were cheering for his opponent, Cal sophomore Christoffer Konigsfeldt. Konigsfeldt served and volleyed to start, holding his own for the first few games, but Sock gained the upper hand midway through the first set and kept the Cal fans quiet in his 6-4, 6-2 victory. Sock's win sets him up for a round robin final with Florida's Alexandre Lacroix, who defeated Johnny Hamui of Illinois 6-2, 6-2 and is also 2-0. Lacroix is ninth in the ITA preseason rankings.

Frank survived a very difficult test against Cal's Pedro Zerbini on Friday, but he had little trouble with Kentucky's Anthony Rossi on Saturday, taking the match by a 6-4, 6-1 score.

"Yesterday we had a battle and it was a lot of fun," Frank said. "It's the kind of matches I enjoy and I think everyone who came out enjoyed that match. I thought I played pretty well. Obviously he's a really good player, so it gave me a lot of confidence beating him."

"Today fortunately for me, the other guy was in worse shape than me," said Frank, who has struggled with an intestinal illness during the training prior to the tournament. "I've been a little lethargic out there, but you're not going to be able to play every match at 100 percent."

Halebian went to 2-0 with a routine 6-3, 6-2 win over Nassim Slilam of Florida, while Krueger's 6-3, 7-6(4) win over David Holiner of Texas was a tough one, especially late in the second set. The last five games were long and filled with breaks, but the 16-year-old Krueger managed to squeak by.

"At the end of the second, we were kind of trading breaks, and I had a match point at 4-5, but he hit a big serve and I could barely get a racquet on it," said Krueger. "The second set was really close; the first set I was dictating pretty well and I won it pretty easily, but in the second set he definitely picked it up and we were having a lot better points and longer rallies."

Holiner served for the second set, but was broken and Krueger got up in the tiebreak and held on. After his disappointing debut in New York, where as a wild card he lost in the first round to Tiago Fernandes of Brazil 6-0, 6-1, Krueger was pleased to have rebounded quickly.

"Coming in, I didn't know what to expect, especially after U.S. Open, but I'm playing well," Krueger said. "I can see how I stand up to these guys now. We're pretty close; not that far off."

Krueger will play Sekou Bangoura Jr. of Florida in his group on Sunday. The winner of that match will go on to the tiebreak shootout that will decide the overall winner of the tournament.

Complete results and Sunday's schedule below:

Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Carlos Cueto (Cal), 7-6 (5), 6-2
Bjorn Fratangelo (USTA) def. Raymond Sarmiento (USC), 6-0, 6-3
Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def. MacKenzie McDonald (USTA), 6-1, 6-2
JT Sundling (USC) def. Maks Gold (Kentucky), 6-0, 6-2
Vasko Mladenov (Texas) def. Bob Van Overbeek (Florida), 7-6 (4), 6-1
Abe Souza (Illinois) def. Jonathan Dahan (Cal), 6-4, 7-5
Bruno Abdelnour (Illinois) def. Hunter Harrington (USTA), 6-2, 6-3
Alex Musialek (Kentucky) def. Marcos Giron (USTA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Ed Corrie (Texas) def. Nick Andrews (Cal), 6-1, 6-4
Mitchell Krueger (USTA) def. David Holiner (Texas), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Johnny Hamui (Illinois), 6-2, 6-2
Jack Sock (USTA) def. Christoffer Konigsfeldt (Cal), 6-4, 6-2
Mitchell Frank (USTA) def. Anthony Rossi (Kentucky), 6-4, 6-1
Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Jean Andersen (Texas), 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
Alexios Halebian (USTA) def. Nassim Slilam (Florida), 6-3, 6-2
Sekou Bangoura (Florida) def. Jaak Poldma (USC) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3)

DAY 3: Sunday’s Schedule
8:00 a.m.
Alex Musialek (Kentucky) v. Vasko Mladenov (Texas)
Bob Van Overbeek (Florida) v. Marcos Giron (USTA)
Alexios Halebian (USTA) v. Jean Andersen (Texas)
Jaak Poldma (USC) v. David Holiner (Texas)
Sekou Bangoura (Florida) v. Mitchell Krueger (USTA)
Ed Corrie ( Texas ) v. Bruno Abdelnour (Illinois)
9:15 a.m.
Christoffer Konigsfeldt (Cal) v. Johnny Hamui (Illinois)
Eric Quigley (Kentucky) v. Raymond Sarmiento (USC)
Jonathan Dahan (Cal) v. Anthony Rossi (Kentucky)
10:30 a.m.
Daniel Nguyen (USC) v. Nassim Slilam (Florida)
Nick Andrews (Cal) v. Hunter Harrington (USTA)
Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) v. Jack Sock (USTA)
Carlos Cueto (Cal) v. Bjorn Fratangelo (USTA)
Abe Souza (Illinois) v. Mitchell Frank (USTA)
Dennis Nevolo ( Illinois ) v. Maks Gold (Kentucky)
JT Sundling (USC) v. MacKenzie McDonald (USTA)

For additional coverage of the Napa Valley Classic, see Steve Pratt's articles at usta.com.


A. Meek said...

On the Atlanta Falcons broadcast they said that Drew Brees played junior tennis and had a win over Roddick. Do you know if that is true?

Also have you heard if there will be an Australian Open wildcard playoff in Atlanta again this year?

5.0 Player said...

That story is technically true; however, as I understand it Brees beat Roddick once when Brees was a lot older than Roddick (Roddick was something like 9 and Brees was something like 12). Then later on Roddick when Roddick got older he beat Brees before Brees eventually gave up tennis for football.