Bektas, Tahir First Round Upset Victims at Spring Nationals; McPhillips Comes Through Crawford's Tough Test
©Colette Lewis 2011--
USTA 18s National Spring Championships top seed Kyle McPhillips held steady in the late stages of the first set of her opening round match with 16s Eddie Herr champion Samantha Crawford and went on to record a 7-5, 6-2 victory early Sunday morning at the Mobile Tennis Center. McPhillips lost her serve only once, when she was up 3-0 in the second set, but it wasn't an exceptionally good serving day from the 16-year-old from Ohio. Rather, it was her consistency and her defense that played the biggest roles in her victory over the powerful 6-foot-1 Crawford.
There were no breaks in the first ten games of the match, and a first set tiebreaker seemed likely when Crawford hit a second serve ace and another service winner to take a 40-15 lead serving at 5-5. But first serves were hard to come by in the next few points, and McPhillips got the break when Crawford hit a backhand wide. McPhillips closed out the set at love, and broke Crawford the next two times she served.
"How many times are you going to hit a ball in the net?" Crawford asked herself when serving at 0-2, and it was a problem she wasn't able to rectify in the remainder of the match. There are very few junior girls who can hit as many winners as Crawford can during a match, but the 16-year-old's errors are also way above the norm.
"If she hits a winner, I just say, good shot," said McPhillips, who will be 17 next month. "What can you do? But if she hits a winner because I hit a short ball, then maybe I need to hit a little deeper, not so high and short to her forehand next time."
McPhillips' sense of the court--where the ball should be put to make offense difficult for her opponent--also contributed to the errors Crawford was making. When the points were long, McPhillips could use angles and occasional drop shots and slices to keep Crawford from teeing off with her devastating forehand.
"It was a combination of her making more errors and me getting my rhythm," said McPhillips. "She was going whoop and I was going whoop," McPhillips said gesturing with her hand below her waist and then over her head.
Following McPhillips on the stadium court was boys top seed Robert Stineman, who had considerably less resistance from Ben Gilman in a 6-0, 6-2 decision. Whitney Kay, the girls No. 2 seed, also had a quick 6-2, 6-1 win over Courtney Wild. Evan Song, the boys No. 2 seed, had considerably more difficulty advancing, but took control early in the third set to post a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 victory over Ross Putterman.
But several other top eight seeds were sent to the consolation draw, including No. 4 seed Emina Bektas, who was beaten by Kendal Woodard 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. I saw only the very end of the match, but Woodard served very well to close out Bektas, including an emphatic ace on match point. No. 7 seed Ashley Dai also fell in the opening round, losing to Reeree Li 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
No. 6 seed Jason Tahir served for the match against Sam Todd, up 6-0, 5-3, but Todd fought back to upset the Duke recruit 0-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. Todd, who will join the Dartmouth team in the fall, trailed 3-1 in the final set as well, but Tahir's serving woes allowed Todd back in the match. Serving a 4-5, Tahir double faulted twice on his way to a 0-40 deficit, but there was more drama to come.
"That was scary," said Todd, who is from San Diego. 'That first (match) point was about 30 balls, and he ended up just ripping a forehand winner, and that was all right. But that second point (a shaky backhand several feet long from Todd) I just played loose, so it felt good to get that last one."
Tahir was not careful or tentative on that third match point, going for the line on another massive forehand, but it went just wide.
"I was happy it went wide," Todd said. "I did not want to go back to deuce there."
Tahir was the only Top 8 boys seed to lose in the first round, but No. 10 Henry Steer, No. 12 Jacob Lewis, and No. 15 Keaton Cullimore were defeated by Fernando Sunago, John Pearce and Josh Levine respectively.
The first round of doubles, played under the afternoon's partly cloudy skies, saw several upsets too, with the No. 3 seeded boys team of Andrew Adams and Tahir falling to Jayabharath Billa and Suresh Eswaran, and the No. 4 seeds Lewis and Ashok Narayana losing to Christian Heaney-Secord and Michael Razumovsky. The top seeded team of Hunter Callahan and Steer had a bye.
The girls doubles top seeds, Lauren Herring and Ronit Yurovsky advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Julianne Gruber and Natalia Maynetto.
For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
Today in Costa Rica, Julia Elbaba and Mac Styslinger collected the singles titles at the ITF Grade 3. Elbaba beat Kelsey Laurente in the final, but the pair captured the doubles title together. For complete draws, see the ITF Junior website.
Today at the BNP Paribas Open, wild card Ryan Harrison reached the third round with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the 22nd seed.
For more on Sunday's results, see the tournament website.