Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shishkina, Black Fall in Second Round of Girls 14s at Junior Orange Bowl

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Coral Gables, FL--

I spent the day (and evening), which was partly cloudy and cool, but thankfully dry, watching the second round of the girls 12s at Salvadore Park and second round of the girls 14s at Biltmore Tennis Center.

The girls 12s had actually completed a few of their second round matches on Saturday before the rain washed out play, the only division to do so, and so by 1:00 p.m., the second round was completed. I watched as much as I could, seeing Americans Ryan Peus and Ingrid Neel for the first time. Peus lost, but Neel, fresh off her Little Mo girls 12s win last week in Bradenton, is into the third round following a 6-4, 6-1 win over American Abigail Chiu. Only two No. 1 seeds lost today, Gabriela Rezende of Brazil, who fell to Ha Eun Lim of Korea 6-0, 6-3, and Kimberly Birrell of Australia, who lost to American Nicole Frenkel 6-0, 6-1. One of the highest quality matches I saw featured No. 1 seed Jasmin Plews of Great Britain against Katarina Kopcalic of Canada. Plews took it 6-4, 6-4, showing off a big serve, as both girls pounded the Har-Tru with their ground strokes.

One of the most anticipated matches in the girls 14s had Mariya Shishkina of the U.S., the No. 9 seed, playing Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece. The two had battled in the fourth round of the Junior Orange Bowl 12s last year, with Shishkina emerging with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, and Grammatikopoulou was looking forward to a rematch. Motivated by last year's loss, Grammatikopoulou won their second encounter 6-4, 6-3.

"Coming to this tournament, I wanted to play Shishkina," said the 13-year-old, who is now training at the Juan Carlos Ferrero academy in Spain. "I was ready for it."

Matching Shishkina's power and movement, Grammatikopoulou, who is widely known by her first name by friends and tournament officials alike, kept the pressure on. She took a 4-1 lead in the second set, with Shishkina playing more tentatively and committing more errors, many of them forced by Grammatikopoulou. Although roving umpires were paying particular attention to the match throughout, the controversies continued. Along with several line calls arguments, there was a dispute over the score in a game, and then a dispute a few points later as to the set score. Grammatikopoulou eventually lost the game that was in dispute, but the official did not accept Shishkina's contention that it was 3-2, not 4-3 in favor of Grammatikopoulou, and shortly thereafter, another official sat in the court's umpire chair for the remainder of the match. Shishkina was overruled twice in the final two games, and Grammatikopoulou was grateful for his presence.

"I was nervous because she said again another score," said Grammatikopoulou, who is still working on her English. "I want to say thanks for the referee, because he looked at my match. If he doesn't look, I maybe have third set."

Although she was very happy to have won, Grammatikoupoulou didn't give herself the highest grade for her performance. "It was good, not perfect," she said, adding that she thought Shishkina played "so-so."

The top two seeds, Barbara Haas of Austria and Francoise Abanda of Canada played better than so-so in their second round matches. Haas quickly moved past Polina Yuzefovich of Russia 6-3, 6-1 during the daylight hours, while Abanda, taking the court around 7 p.m., dispatched Madison Bourguignon of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2. 2009 girls 14s finalist Brooke Austin also had a quick second round under the lights, defeating Lena Reichel of Austria 6-1, 6-1.

Eight of the girls 14s matches were played at the University of Miami, so I did not see any of Alecia (Tornado) Black's loss to Rianna Valdes, also of the U.S. Black retired with an injury trailing 7-6(13), 3-0.

The top three seeds in the boys 14s, Joshua Sapwell, Bastian Malla and Peter Ashley advanced in straight sets. Zandrix Acob of the U.S., the No. 7 seed, lost to Alexander Zverev of Germany 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

For complete results and Monday's schedule, see the TennisLink site.