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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Qualifiers Make Statement in Opening Matches at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

The qualifiers for the Grade 1 ITF 18-and-under at the Eddie Herr had the day off on Monday, and the after playing three matches in two days to get into the main draw, it was certainly a welcome day off. On Tuesday, another warm and sunny day at the IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy, all 16 qualifiers were back on the courts, and 9 of them earned a second round match on Wednesday with wins.

Two of the most impressive victories by qualifiers came from American boys. Anthony Delcore rolled past No. 10 seed Jannick Lupescu of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-1, and Evan Song got the better of No. 8 seed Liam Broady of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4. Qualifier Roberto Cid of the U.S. came within a point of a big upset of No. 2 seed Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, who failed to serve out the match leading 6-5 in the third set, but survived the subsequent tiebreaker to earn a 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-6(3). Quiroz, who saved a match point serving at 4-5, was disgusted with his play, and was back out practicing a few hours later.

Thiago Monteiro of Brazil and Laurent Lokoli of France were the other qualifiers to advance to the second round, and lucky losers Mikhail Vaks of Russia and Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria also posted wins in the opening round. In addition to Delcore and Song, a third American, Alexios Halebian, posted a victory. In a battle of the 2008 and 2009 Eddie Herr 14s champions, the 16-year-old Halebian beat 15-year-old Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-3, 7-6(9).

The girls qualifiers had even more success Tuesday, with five of the eight earning wins, three of them Americans.

Tristen Dewar breezed through her three matches in qualifying, and continued her excellent play on Tuesday, taking down Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-6(5), 6-4. Liz Jeukeng, who also wasn't seriously challenged in qualifying, stormed past No. 15 seed Eri Hozumi of Japan 6-2, 6-1 in a match played at the Academy Park courts, which are separated from the main complex by some distance. The third American qualifier to advance was Elizaverta Nemchinov, who defeated wild card Oceane Dodin of France 7-6(5), 7-5.

Christina Kandler of Austria defeated 2009 Eddie Herr 16s champion Sachia Vickery 7-6(5), 5-0 ret. inj., and Ingrid Radu of Romania used her two-handed forehand and backhand to beat Annie Mulholland of the U.S. 6-1, 7-6(5).

No. 10 seed Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar, joined Hozumi on the sidelines, beaten by Russian Victoria Kan 6-4, 7-6(5).

The two U.S. girls seeds, No. 5 Lauren Davis and No. 12 Madison Keys, both breezed past their opponents, losing only three games between them. Davis, who completed her defense of the Grade 1 Yucatan title late Saturday night, said she felt fresh and ready, and she certainly looked that way in her 6-0, 6-1 win over Darya Lebesheva of Belarus Tuesday.

The 12s division is down to the round of 16. There are three U.S. boys still in contention for the title, William Blumberg, a No. 1 seed, and two qualifiers, Michael Mmoh and Bailey Showers. There are seven U.S. girls in the final 16: No. 1 seeds Cristina Rovira and Sofia Kenin, Shilin Xu, Jaeda Daniel, Sofia Sewing, Nicole Conard and Usue Arconada.

The seeds took the courts in the 14s for the first time, having received byes Monday, and there were several major surprises. Top seed Juan Bisono of the Dominican Republic was ousted by Sumit Nagal of India 6-3, 6-2, and No. 3 seed Philip Gresk of Poland lost to Simon Stevens of Belgium 6-3, 6-4. Not all of the second round of boys 14s was completed, with several matches originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon postponed until Wednesday due to the lateness of the hour.

In the girls 14s, matches were still being played late this evening, but one of the day's most anticipated matches was completed by 7 p.m. The 2009 Eddie Herr 12s champion Mariya Shishkina, seeded No. 6 in the 14s this year, was assigned to the Stadium Court, and a finals-size crowd gathered to watch her take on lucky loser Jeannez Daniel. No one left disappointed, because although Shishkina emerged with a routine-sounding 6-3, 6-3 victory, it was a very close and hard-fought battle that took over 90 minutes. Daniel was able to match Shishkina shot for shot during the long rallies, with Daniel's driving backhand a particular strength. Although the spectators were primarily there to see the 12-year-old Bollettieri prodigy, Daniel won many fans with her play, and she made Shishkina earn the victory.

The girls 16s were taking the courts for the first time on Tuesday, but a seeding problem necessitated re-doing the draw before the first match was played this afternoon. Rana Ahmed of Egypt was inadvertently overlooked for seeding, but should have been seeded No. 3. After she was seeded at that position, Ahmed played Riko Shimizu of the U.S. and lost, 6-1, 6-3. Top seed Christina Makarova of the U.S. beat Naomi Tran of Australia 6-0, 6-0, while No. 2 seed Carol Zhao of Canada defeated Courtney Colton of the U.S. 6-3, 6-3.

For more photos and stories, as well as complete results, see eddieherr.com.

Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com is webcasting this week, so log on to the site to hear his play-by-play. It is a free service.