Davis, Thiem Repeat Yucatan Success with Eddie Herr Championships; Crawford and Lederman Capture 16s Titles
©Colette Lewis 2010--
Rain, sunshine, composure, drama, long matches and short ones, the final day of the 2010 Eddie Herr had a bit of everything.
Players from the United States won three of the six singles titles contested Sunday, with Roy Lederman the day's first champion in the boys 16s singles. Lederman was the only player to have secured a set when a brief rain shower caused a delay of approximately one hour. Up 6-3, 4-3 and serving against No. 10 seed Jamie Galleguillos of Chile, the unseeded Lederman experienced his worst nerves of the tournament when he stepped back onto the court, hoping to close out the match.
"I was extremely nervous, two double faults in the first game," said the 15-year-old from Miami. "I was nervous to start the match, but when I came back out after the rain delay, I was way more nervous."
Broken immediately, Lederman had every reason to curse the timing of the rain, especially when Galleguillos went up 40-0 serving at 4-4. But Lederman won the next five points, with Galleguillos throwing in a double fault and a couple of unforced errors. Lederman had one winner during that stretch, and added another on game point when Galleguillos, who employs the drop shot with regularity, hit a poor one, and Lederman made him pay with a clean pass.
Galleguillos knew how important that game was.
"That was the key," said Galleguillos through an interpreter. "I knew if I could win that game, I could take it to a third set."
Asked about the number of drop shots that didn't produce the hoped-for result, Galleguillos said, "I didn't have my touch today."
Lederman served it out with the assistance of a net cord winner, and a difficult overhead considering the windy conditions, claiming the Eddie Herr championship that had eluded him in the 2007 Boys 12s final.
"It's awesome," said the 2009 USTA Clay Court 14s champion, who was born in Colombia, but has been in the U.S. since he was five. "I guess it's my biggest win."
There was no guessing in that regard for wild card Samantha Crawford, who, with a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed Carol Zhao of Canada in the girls 16s final, secured her first major junior tournament title.
Down 4-1 in the final set, Crawford said that being behind actually helped her.
"I just loosened up more and started playing better," said the 6-foot-1 15-year-old, who has been training at the USTA's Boca Raton facility the past several months.
Although nervous serving at 5-4 in the final game, Crawford used her two biggest weapons--her serve and her forehand--to get through some tight spots. At 40-15, she missed a couple of forehands barely wide, but at deuce, she stroked a winner from that side that the speedy Zhao had no chance of returning. On match point No. 3, Crawford's first serve was too much for Zhao, and with a big smile, Crawford approached the net for the handshake.
"I think my serve was really good the whole match," Crawford said. "She's a really solid player, she moves really well, and it's tough, because she gets a lot back."
Zhao, also 15, was disappointed that she didn't take advantage of her chances to go up 5-2 in the final set, acknowledging that, "just a few points decided the match."
As for Crawford's strengths, Zhao agreed that her serve was particularly effective.
"She's tall and she can get a different trajectory. At key moments, she pulled out some good serves."
Like Lederman and Galleguillos, Crawford and Zhao had little time to reflect on their Eddie Herr accomplishments, as all four play Monday at the Dunlop Orange Bowl in Miami.
Fortunately for Lauren Davis of the United States and Dominic Thiem of Austria, the 18s champions, they have a day off on Monday before they begin play in the Dunlop Orange Bowl 18s. The fifth-seeded Davis, who beat No. 4 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia 6-3, 7-5, and the third-seeded Thiem, who defeated No. 5 seed Oliver Golding 6-2, 6-1, were the champions at last week's ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, winning 12 matches each in the past 14 days.
"I think I'll get a massage tomorrow, and then I'll be fine for Orange Bowl," said Davis, who called her match with Putintseva "one of the hardest matches I've ever played."
Putintseva is, like Davis, short, but extremely strong and always capable of hitting a great shot on an important point. Down 5-1 in the opening set, the 15-year-old Russian got it back to 5-3, only to be broken in a very long ninth game. The several hundred fans were generous with their applause to both players winners, but the American began to hear the majority of the cheers as the match wore on. In the second set, Davis took a 3-1 lead, but Putintseva roared back to take a 5-4 lead, and serving for the second set, had two set points, but converted neither. Davis seized the momentum, taking the next two games and claiming the title in a grueling two hours and forty-two minutes.
Asked about keeping her very demonstrative and often argumentative opponent from distracting her, Davis said she was prepared for the disruptions.
"I think I was too focused to even notice, really," Davis said.
Davis, who didn't lose a set in the tournament, said she thought she improved her play throughout the week.
"In the first two matches, I didn't play too well, but I just forgot about them, played my game and started playing a lot better," said the 17-year-old Davis, who is the third American to win the girls Eddie Herr title in the past four years, joining Melanie Oudin and Lauren Embree.
Thiem also said his level rose as the tournament wore on.
"I had difficult matches in the second, third matches and in the quarters," said Thiem, who was taken to three sets on those occasions. "Yesterday I played very good, and today it continued."
Thiem could do virtually no wrong against Golding, the 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist, needing just over an hour to claim the title. Hitting his forehand with great precision, Thiem pressured Golding throughout, and Golding committed too many errors to work his way back into the match.
"It's been a long week and I've spent a lot of hours on court," said Golding, who also had three three-setters in his first four matches. "I didn't feel that good out there, but I want to give credit to him, he played an unbelievable match. He hit winners from everywhere on the court."
Thiem, 17, competed in the 16s at last year's Eddie Herr, losing in the third round. Asked what changes had led to his five ITF single titles this year--a Grade 2 and four Grade 1's--he had a ready answer.
"Self-confidence. It's much in the head," said Thiem, Austria's first Eddie Herr champion. "I have more self-confidence now, and this is the thing, I think."
Perhaps as she gets older Alecia (Tornado) Black will absorb the lesson Thiem has learned in the past year, but on Sunday, the 12-year-old was very hard on herself and her racquet in her 6-2, 6-2 loss to No. 3 seed Francoise Abanda of Canada.
Serving up 2-1 in the second set, Black lost her serve and continued to berate herself, saying, loudly, "You're such a loser, you suck." She gave her racquet a toss, not for the first time in the match, and the chair umpire gave her a point penalty, and Abanda had little difficulty taking control from that stage on, while Black continued to cry and direct remarks at her mother.
After losing the seventh game, Black gave her racquet another heave and was given a game penalty, which ended the match. She stormed off, crying, although she did return for the award ceremony 30 minutes later. She would not agree to speak about the match however.
Abanda, 13, was familiar with the drama that accompanies Black to the court, having played her two previous times, winning both matches.
"She's always been like that," said Abanda, who was named recipient of the tournament's Rising Star award. "So I was mentally ready for that. I think if she were a little bit calmer, she would play better."
Abanda, the 2009 Junior Orange Bowl champion, did not lose a set in the tournament, using her ball striking and movement to great advantage all week. Although she said she doesn't personally see her resemblance to Venus Williams that others detect, Abanda can't help but be pleased with the comparison.
"I do like to attack and lead the point, and the Williams sisters are those kind of players too," said Abanda, who shares Venus's on-court demeanor as well.
Abanda may lack the grand slam titles of Venus Williams, but she now has two junior "majors" and will play for two more this month. She is playing the 16s Orange Bowl next week and the 14s Junior Orange Bowl too.
If the girls champion in the 14s cruised to the title, boys 14's champion Peter Ashley of Great Britain did the same--until Sunday's final, when the No. 12 seed lost the first set to unseeded Clement Geens of Belgium before emerging with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
"I had won pretty comfortably before this match, but he was a pretty smart player," said Ashley, who was down a set and a break before turning the match around. "It was quite windy today and he played the wind well. That's what I've been doing this week, but he beat me at my own game in the first set. It was quite frustrating at times."
Ashley admitted that there were moments when it looked bleak for his chances.
"I had mixed emotions," said the 14-year-old right-hander. "I thought I was out of it, then I thought I could come back through fighting. I fought really well today."
Ashley's win is the second straight for Great Britain in the boys 14s, following Luke Bambridge's title last year, and Ashley was aware of that recent history.
"There's a team of four of us, and before the tournament, I thought if one of us could get the title this year, it would be quite good to put Britain's name back on the champions list."
In the 18s doubles championships, the two unseeded American teams in the finals fell to teams comprised of Dutch and Belgian players, both seeded fifth. Alexios Halebian and Bjorn Fratangelo, who had saved two match points in their semifinal victory on Saturday, couldn't duplicate that feat in the final, falling to Belgium's Joris de Loore and the Netherlands' Jannick Lupescu 6-3, 5-7, 10-6. In the girls 18s doubles final, Lauren Herring and Jennifer Brady, who had saved two match points in their quarterfinal win, fell to An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands 6-4, 4-6, 10-8.
For complete results, as well as photos and stories, see eddieherr.com.