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Monday, December 20, 2010

Wiersholm Upsets Second Seed Malla in Third Round of Junior Orange Bowl 14s

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

Henrik Wiersholm may have been an underdog coming into his third round match with No. 2 seed Bastian Malla of Chile, but the 13-year-old from Kirkland, Washington didn't exactly surprise himself with his 6-3, 7-5 victory.

"I watched play his match the day before and saw that this guy gets pretty mad, so I said I'll just stay consistent, keep the ball in and see where it goes," said Wiersholm, the 2009 USTA Boys 12s champion. "I thought I could take him going in, and maybe that's why I won."

The atmosphere surrounding the contest was more like a college tennis match, with Malla's many supporters cheering so loudly that they actually drowned out the construction noise from renovation of the University of Miami Wellness Center. Wiersholm also had lots of vocal encouragement and during the first set, which was contested at a very high level, there was plenty for both sides to applaud. The 14-year-old Malla, who was on the Chilean team that captured the ITF World Junior Tennis title in the Czech Republic, was the more volatile emotionally. The stocky left-hander, who is not much taller than Wiersholm, but probably 40 pounds heavier, was hitting some big forehands, but he was also making a lot of errors, and Wiersholm had formulated a plan to create those.

"Yesterday I made a page of notes of how to beat the kid, after I scouted him," said Wiersholm, who referred to these tips on the changeovers. "I was just seeing if I was missing something, and if I was losing, I would go back to that and it would help me get back on track."

The crowd became less animated in the late stages of the match, as the tension began to build. Malla played from behind throughout the second set, falling behind 2-0 and 4-2, although he got the break back both times. But serving at 5-5, he committed two double faults that sealed his fate, as Wiersholm played aggressively in the final game, finishing with a perfectly executed forehand volley on his first match point.

Wiersholm credits his recent training with the USTA at Boca Raton and the European team competition there with helping him prepare for the tournament.

"I think that really helped to get ready," said Wiersholm, who will be traveling to Europe for Teen Tennis and Les Petits As next month with the USTA. "Hitting there this week has really been helping me get my feel."

Wiersholm will play fellow American Jordan Belga in the round of 16 Tuesday morning. Belga also ousted a seed, coming back to take out No. 9 seed Ken Onishi of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. The final set of the match featured seven breaks of serve, but when Belga went up 5-3 on a double fault by Onishi, who disputed the call, Belga did hold his serve for the second, and most important, time in the final game.

The other U.S. boys to advance to the round of 16 are unseeded Stefan Kozlov, Javier Restrepo and Noah Rubin. Top seed Joshua Sapwell and No. 3 seed Peter Ashley of Great Britain again advanced easily. In the boys 12s and 14s and the girls 14s, two rounds will be played on Tuesday.

In the girls 12s, the finalists will be determined on Tuesday afternoon. Eight girls remain in contention for the title, including unseeded American Nicole Frenkel. Frenkel is one of three unseeded players still in the draw.

In the boys 12s, there are 6 U.S. boys among the final 16, including No. 1 seeds Nathan Ponwith and Michael Mmoh, and unseeded Noah Makarome, Alex Del Corral, Michal Kusznerko and Christopher Ephron.

In the girls 14s, top seeds Barbara Haas of Austria and Francoise Abanda of Canada rolled on with straight set wins, as did 2009 finalist and No. 6 seed Brooke Austin. No. 4 seed Ulyana Ayzatulina of Russia was defaulted via the point penalty system, giving a 6-3, 0-3 win to qualifier Brooke Withrow of the U.S. I was not at the Biltmore when the match ended, but I will try to find out the circumstances on Tuesday.

No. 7 seed Valeria Patiuk of Israel was also eliminated on Monday, losing to Mayar Ahmed of Egypt 7-5, 6-4.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.