Sponsored by IMG Academy

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Duval and Fratangelo Roll on at International Spring Championships; Madregallejo Eliminates Top Seed Corinteli to Reach Boys 16s Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Carson, CA--

Top seeds Vicky Duval and Bjorn Fratangelo have yet to lose a set in their three matches at the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships, and their quick victories in Thursday's third round kept them from the having to bear the brunt of the cold temperatures and gusty winds that descended on the Home Depot Center later in the day.

Fratangelo surrendered one game to unseeded Richard Del Nunzio, while Duval gave up only three in her 6-2, 6-2 win over unseeded Chalena Scholl. Duval will take on unseeded Brooke Austin, also 15 years old, in Friday's quarterfinals. Austin, who has also breezed through her first three matches, beat unseeded Kyle McPhillips 6-3, 6-4. Second seed Grace Min took a 6-2, 6-3 decision from No. 13 seed Ashley Dai, and No. 3 seed Madison Keys had similar success, taking out unseeded Alejandra Cisneros of Mexico 6-3, 6-2, but the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds didn't survive.

Christina Makarova, seeded fourth, and Claremont ITF champion Gabrielle Andrews battled the elements and each other for over four hours before Andrews escaped with a 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(4) victory. The two 14-year-olds from Southern California are good friends, so in addition to the weather conditions, there was emotional anxiety as well.

Makarova is able to frustrate many an opponent with her consistency, slice and court sense, but Andrews also possesses those skills too, so each point was long and full of variety, at least in the games that I saw. Serving wasn't any advantage, especially with the 20 mph wind creating havoc with the toss, and Andrews couldn't close out the match when she served for it at 5-4 in the third.
Up 40-15, Andrews failed on her first match point, with Makarova passing her, and on the second match point Andrews' backhand volley floated long. She lost that game, but both girls held their final service games.

In the final tiebreaker, which drew scores of spectators to Court 5, Andrews took a 5-3 lead on an impressive short angle winner that even the speedy Makarova couldn't reach, but she missed a backhand volley on the next point to make it 5-4. Makarova, who almost never makes an error, may have been feeling the pressure during that critical stage, because she hit a forehand that caught the tape to give Andrews two match points. Andrews needed only one, as Makarova's forehand again found the net, ending the marathon, and drawing applause from the shivering fans scattered around the court.

Andrews will play wild card Samanatha Crawford, who beat No. 5 seed Ellen Allgurin of Sweden 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Crawford, the 16s Eddie Herr champion, is playing in her first ITF Grade 1, but said she thought playing at this level helped with her rhythm and confidence. Crawford's forehand can give any junior opponent problems, but with the wind and the need to find what she called "bigger targets," it wasn't her only option.

"My backhand's been doing better," said the 6-foot-1 right-hander, who trains at the USTA Center in Boca Raton. "I was trying to open up the court more, get her on the run and try to go behind her. I was using more spin too."

Min's quarterfinal opponent is unseeded Sabrina Santamaria, the local girl who has committed to USC for the fall. Santamaria outlasted No. 12 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Keys will play No. 9 seed Stephanie Nauta, who downed No. 8 seed Rio Kitagawa of Japan 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.

The boys 18s third round featured only one three set match, with No. 10 seed Mac Styslinger outlasting No. 7 seed Marco Nunez of Mexico 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-2. Nunez served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but didn't get to a match point. At 30-30, Styslinger hit a perfect return at the feet of the net-charging Nunez, who couldn't handle it. Nunez looked to have won the 30-40 point when he hit an excellent drop volley, but the Styslinger somehow not only got to it, but hit a short slice volley that barely cleared the net and dropped for a winner. The astonished Nunez then hit the ball back to Styslinger so he could serve, but it went over the backstop, which led to a point penalty.

In the subsequent tiebreaker, Nunez took a 4-0 lead, Styslinger stayed calm, and got one mini-break back, making it 5-2. An ace made it 5-3, and Nunez began to unravel. He had gotten only one of his first four serves in, and at 5-4 and 5-5 missed two more. Although the left-hander didn't double fault, he couldn't keep the unforced errors from surfacing at that inopportune time and Styslinger took a 6-5 lead. On his first set point Styslinger hit a strong cross court forehand, forcing an error to complete his run of five straight points. In the final set, Styslinger got an insurance break at 4-2 with two impressive winners--a running forehand pass and a backhand return, and served out the match to set up a quarterfinal with No. 4 seed Shane Vinsant.

After saving four match points in his second round win on Wednesday, Vinsant couldn't avoid more drama, but again he came away with the victdory, taking out unseeded Austin Smith, 7-6(4), 7-6(10). I'm told the match ended with a fine bit of sportsmanship by Smith. The chair umpire said Smith's first serve was a let that had landed in, but Smith agreed with Vinsant that it was actually out, and hit a second serve. He lost the point, and with it the match.

Fratangelo will play No. 6 seed Mitchell Krueger, who advanced when Mitchell Polnet retired down 6-1, 1-0. The only American left in the bottom half of the draw is Marcos Giron, the Claremont ITF winner, who beat Emmett Egger 6-2, 6-2. Giron will play No. 2 seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia, who beat Dennis Mkrtchian 6-4, 6-3. In the fourth quarterfinal, unseeded Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan will play Patrik Fabian of Slovakia. Nishioka beat fellow Bollettieri student Trey Strobel 7-6(8), 6-1, while No. 13 seed Fabian, who trains at the Weil Academy, disposed of No. 3 seed Alexios Halebian 6-2, 6-3.

The quarterfinals in the 16s division were all played in the upper courts at the same time the 18s were playing down below, so I don't have any observations to offer. Nikko Madregalleo, the No. 6 seed, beat fellow USTA Boca Raton student Luca Corinteli, the top seed, 7-6(3), 6-3.

"Although we're friends, we have to battle," said Madregallejo. "I was looking forward to it, I was excited. Neither one of us wanted to lose, but we were comfortable playing each other."

Being so familiar with Corinteli's game helped Madregallejo.

"I knew I couldn't stay on the baseline and just make balls, because he'd really attack me," said Madregallejo. "Around 2-all in the first set, I decided to take control with my forehand and move him around, do as much as I can to hurt him. That went well for me. I feel like I'm playing pretty well, and I hope I can keep it up next week for Easter Bowl."

Madregallejo will play No. 10 seed Stephen Watson, who won a thriller over No. 13 seed Martin Redlicki way up on court 18. Watson came back to take a 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(6) victory.

The only unseeded player remaining in the 16s semifinals is Ciro Riccardi of Los Angeles, who surprised No. 2 seed Spencer Papa 6-4, 7-5. Riccardi will play No. 14 seed Noah Rubin, who beat unseeded Stefan Kozlov 6-4, 6-4.

The girls 16s has two unseeded players in the semifinals. Yuki Chiang, who beat No. 11 seed Shannon Hudson 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, and Kiah Generette, who took out No. 13 seed Lauren Marker 6-2, 6-0. Chiang's opponent on Friday will be No. 9 seed Kimberly Yee, who beat No. 4 seed Nicolette Tran 7-5, 6-1. Generette, a semifinalist in the 16s here last year, will play No. 8 seed Marie Norris. Norris beat No. 15 seed Alyza Benotto 7-6(4), 6-4.

In doubles action on Thursday afternoon, top seed Fratangelo and Halebian lost No. 5 seeds Nunez and Alexander Petrone 3-6, 6-3, 11-9.

For complete results, see the tournament page at usta.com.