©Colette Lewis 2010--
Key Biscayne, FL--
2009 Orange Bowl 16s champion Alexios Halebian didn't have the best draw to continue his winning streak at Key Biscayne, but playing No. 1 seed Jean Sebastian Gomez of Colombia on a windy and historically cold day proved no problem for the 16-year-old left-hander from California. With temperatures in the 50s most of the day and gusty north winds, there would be no dazzling displays of tennis at Crandon Park, but Halebian was able to fight through any tough spots to post a 6-4, 6-4 win over the Youth Olympic Games gold medal winner.
Getting early breaks in both sets helped Halebian swing more freely, despite the conditions.
"I was serving really well, and I could hit the ball a little more aggressive since I'm winning," said Halebian, who trains with the USTA in Boca Raton. "It's really hard to play, you don't know where the ball is going ever, you just kind of have to aim right in the middle of court."
Halebian had had the experience playing in similar conditions last week at the Eddie Herr, while Gomez took the week off after reaching the third round at the Yucatan Cup.
"I was warm coming in, played a good amount of matches, and he didn't play in these conditions so that could have hurt him a little," Halebian said.
Serving for the match at 5-2, Halebian was broken, and Gomez held easily to put the pressure back on. Serving for the match again at 5-4, 30-15, Halebian had the entire open court to put a volley away, but but missed it wide. It may have rattled another player, but not Halebian, and after a brief grimace he returned to the baseline for the next point. Gomez donated a forehand error to make it 40-30, and the shot Halebian considers his best, the serve, produced a winner on the first match point.
Halebian didn't really like his draw when he first saw it, but he adjusted his attitude quickly.
"At first I thought it was a bad draw, but before the match, I thought I was going to win it. I thought I was going to play well and give myself a chance to win."
Gomez was the lone boys seed to be eliminated in Tuesday's play, but No. 16 seed Bjorn Fratangelo came close before taking a 6-0, 6-7(6), 7-6(5) decision from Ryota Kishi of Japan.
After winning the first seven games of the match, Fratangelo was down 5-2, two breaks in the second set, before bringing the match even and forcing a tiebreaker. He had a match point in the tiebreaker at 6-5, but double faulted, and Kishi won the next two points to force a third set. Fratangelo served for the match twice in the final set, at 5-4, 6-5, but he never got to match point in either game, with his double faults and errors keeping Kishi alive.
"In the third set, I don't think anyone held serve the entire set," said Fratangelo, 17. "I was just trying to spin it in the first set and it was working, but I actually think the wind picked up in the second and third, and I lost total rhythm with my serve."
At 5-4 in the final tiebreaker Fratangelo was the beneficiary of a generous service line call by the chair umpire, giving him an ace. Fratangelo missed his first serve on the next point, but hit an excellent second serve, very deep in the box, and Kishi sent his return long to give Fratangelo his second match point. When Kishi netted a forehand, two hours and forty-five minutes after the match started, Fratangelo advanced to the second round.
The girls draw also saw a big name fall, as No. 2 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the French Open girls champion, was defeated by Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 7-5, 6-2. Bouchard, a quarterfinalist at the Yucatan Cup, out-hit and out-steadied the Ukrainian.
Other seeds falling were No. 14 Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar, who was defeated by qualifier Liz Jeukeng of the U.S. 7-5, 7-5, and No. 15 seed Ganna Poznikhirenko of Ukraine, who was beaten by Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. No. 9 seed Nastje Kolar of Slovenia, who was a semifinalist at the Orange Bowl last year, withdrew.
Aside from Jeukeng, other American girls advancing were unseeded Grace Min and Lauren Herring, qualifiers Stephanie Nauta and Chichi Scholl, No. 8 seed Lauren Davis and No. 16 seed Madison Keys.
Other U.S. boys to reach the second round were Dennis Novikov, Gonzales Austin and qualifiers Jeremy Efferding and Mitchell Polnet.
In the 16s second round, played at Biltmore Tennis Center, top seeds Lucas Pouille of France and Christina Makarova of the U.S. advanced to the third round, as did Eddie Herr champion Samantha Crawford and finalist Carol Zhao of Canada. All matches in both age divisions will be played at Crandon Park starting on Wednesday.
For complete results, see dunloporangebowl.com.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010