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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boys Provide the Drama in Pan American Quarterfinals Thursday

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Tulsa, OK--

The semifinals are set for the ITF B1 Pan American Closed Championships after the final four girls advanced without much excitement on a clear and calm day at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.

The boys were a different story however, with only one quarterfinal failing to produce a compelling match.

Unseeded 14-year-old Christina Makarova had two tense wins in a row, over Catherine Harrison and No. 2 seed Ester Goldfeld, but today she had all the answers against No. 9 seed Gabrielle DeSimone, who couldn't find her form in Makarova's 6-1, 6-1 win. Makarova meets No. 4 seed Monica Turewicz in Friday's semifinal. Turewicz dispatched unseeded Stephanie Nauta 6-1, 6-2.

No. 3 seed Madison Keys, who has played extremely well all week, powered her way past No. 11 seed Kyle McPhillips 6-2, 6-0. McPhillips can usually find ways to disrupt the rhythms of any opponent, but Keys served too well and hit the ball too cleanly to allow McPhillips any time to sort out her strategy.

The most competitive of the four matches was top seed Lauren Davis's 6-1, 6-2 win over unseeded Canadian Elisabeth Abanda. Both girls were hitting with great power and depth, especially on the backhand side, but a confident Davis, who has now won eight matches over the past eight days, usually ended up hitting a winner or forcing an error after a long and well-played rally. Keys and Davis, who both train at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, will play their first ITF match against each other in Friday's semifinal.

No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, who struggled with the wind and No. 16 seed Robert Livi on Wednesday, had no difficulty subduing No. 8 seed Marco Nunez of Mexico 6-2, 6-0, but the going was much tougher for the other three winners.

Fratangelo's semifinal opponent, No. 3 seed Shane Vinsant, couldn't find the court in the first set of his quarterfinal match with Maxx Lipman. But despite losing the opening set 6-1 and trailing 2-0 and 5-3 in the second set, Vinsant eventually located his game and came away with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Lipman, who had beaten Vinsant in the final of the International Grass Courts in June, served for the match after breaking Vinsant at 3-4 in the second set. Lipman never reached match point, hitting a forehand into the net at 30-40, and Vinsant held at love in the next game to make it 5-5, broke again, and won his fourth straight game to take the set.

In the third set, Vinsant broke at 1-1, but Lipman had a great chance to get back on serve with Vinsant down 0-40 serving at 3-2. Vinsant won five straight points to hold however, and Lipman, who had received treatment between the second and third sets for what looked like a hip problem, didn't get another chance.

In the top half, unseeded Thai Kwiatkowski's run was halted by No. 12 seed Filip Peliwo of Canada 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Kwiatkowski was down 4-1 in the final set, but with Peliwo serving at 4-2, Kwiatkowski got the break back, and held for 4-4. Peliwo held for 5-4, and suddenly he had match points, as Kwiatkowski fell behind 0-40 on his serve. Kwiatkowski battled back, using the strategy he had employed effectively throughout the match, hitting high deep top spin to throw Peliwo off his rhythm, then moving in and crushing a forehand. But after saving three match points, Kwiatkowski made a forehand error to give Peliwo match point number four, and another error, this one a backhand long, gave Peliwo the win.

Peliwo's semifinal opponent, No. 15 seed Alexios Halebian, has a score to settle with the 16-year-old Canadian. Halebian, who posted a 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over 2010 USTA Boys 16 champion Michael Redlicki on Thursday, lost to Peliwo in the North American Junior Davis Cup qualifying in May. That 2-1 loss to the Canadians kept the U.S. team, which also included Mitchell Krueger, from reaching the final in Mexico last month, where Canada finished as the runner-up to Japan.

"Played him in Davis Cup and it didn't go our way," said Halebian. "I've been wanting to play him again. I'll definitely be ready. I really want to win that match."

Against Redlicki, Halebian had plenty of opportunities to break the 6-foot-7 lefthander in the opening set, but Halebian, also a lefty, couldn't covert any of them until Redlicki served at 5-5. After holding to secure the first set, Halebian was broken for the first and only time in the match, serving at 1-2 in the second set, but the break didn't prove fatal.

"I broke him right back, and then we had a really long game," said Halebian, who saved four break points in the six-deuce game before finally holding for 3-3. "That was the turning point of the match--it gave me more room, more safety to play, and I served a little better there to hold the next three games."

Halebian didn't lose a point on his serve in the tiebreaker, and he felt Redlicki's three previous three-setters had taken a toll.

"I wasn't really that concerned if I lost the second set," said Halebian. "He was bending over a few times, was taking a lot of time between points. Physically, I thought I was in a better place than he was today."

The doubles quarterfinals were also played Thursday afternoon. Girls top seeds Keys and Annie Mulholland advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over unseeded Melissa Kopinski and Jessica Wacnik. They will play the unseeded Abanda sisters from Canada. Elisabeth and Francoise defeated No. 5 seeds Yuliana Lizarazo of Colombia and Dhanielly Quevedo of the U.S. 6-2, 6-7(3), 10-3. Another team of Canadians, No. 8 seeds Kimberley-Ann Surin and Carol Zhao, also reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 10-2 win over unseeded Giuliana Olmos of Mexico and Leighann Sahagun of the U.S. Their opponents in the semifinals will be unseeded Whitney Kay and Turewicz, who advanced over Brooke Austin and Hannah King, when King was unable to compete due to an injury.

In the boys doubles, top seeds and 2009 finalists Emmett Egger and Vinsant are back in the final. The pair defeated the unseeded team of Harrison Adams and Casey Kay 7-6(7), 7-6(5) to advance to the semifinals against the unseeded team of Luca Corinteli and Halebian. Corinteli and Halebian defeated unseeded Hunter Callahan and Richard Del Nunzio 6-4, 6-3, but due to a previous commitment at Futures qualifying in Mansfield, Corinteli couldn't play Friday's semifinal, so after playing and losing a game in the semifinals to Egger and Vinsant, Corinteli and Halebian retired.

The other semifinal will feature unseeded Chase Curry and Nolan Paige against No. 2 seeds Krueger and Daniel McCall. Curry and Paige beat unseeded Kwiatkowski and partner Nicholas Naumann 6-2, 6-4, while Krueger and McCall got past the unseeded team of Connor Farren and Nunez 6-2, 4-6, 10-7.

For the tournament draws, see the TennisLink site.