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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Min, McPhillips Turn Tables on Crawford and Tsay, Reach Easter Bowl ITF Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Rancho Mirage, CA--

Kyle McPhillips lost to Ellen Tsay in January, while less than a week ago, Grace Min was denied a spot in the International Spring Championship final by Samantha Crawford.

On a warm and still afternoon at the Rancho Las Palmas resort, both girls got their revenge in the Easter Bowl quarterfinals, earning a place in the ITF Grade B1 semifinals on Friday.

McPhillips, the No. 13 seed, came away with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Tsay, joking after the match that she was satisfied when she won her third game, since she had lost 6-0, 6-2 to Tsay at the Plantation Pro Circuit qualifying three months ago.

"I got to that third game, and I said, man, if I go out like this, I'll be happy," said the 2010 Easter Bowl 16s champion.

McPhillips used her lob effectively against 2008 Easter Bowl 16s champion Tsay, who is committed to coming into the net, and usually wins the majority of her points there. The lack of wind certainly helped McPhillips execute that strategy, although she said luck also figured into the prevalence of lob winners she hit.

She also pinpointed other factors contributing to the reversal of their previous match's outcome.

"It was my footwork, I think," McPhillips said. "I was more focused today, and more energized."

McPhillips has surprised herself with her showing this year as she attempts to win back-to-back titles.

"I was just hoping I would win a round here," McPhillips said. "I remember two years ago, I got eliminated first round (of the 18s). I'm just glad I got this far, and I'm going to try to keep going."

McPhillips will play unseeded wild card Allie Kiick in the semifinals, which will be their first meeting. Kiick defeated No. 12 seed Kelsey Laurente 6-3, 6-0.

Min had lost to Crawford 6-3, 6-3 on a breezy day in Carson last Saturday, but five days later, she came out on top 6-2, 6-4.

"I think the court in Carson suited her game better, because it was a lot faster," Min said. "I thought today I was moving a lot better, which is key when you're playing a player like her, who can really hit through the court. I was happy with the way I was moving, absorbing her shots."

Min wasn't particularly effective on serve, but neither was Crawford, who in the past two weeks has been able to find a big serve when she needed it. There were four consecutive breaks to end the match, with a tired-looking Crawford double faulting on match point.

"I think she was a little tired, but I was trying not to focus on that," Min said. "I was just worrying about what I had to do. It was a matter of getting balls back and letting her know that I was in for every single point, and it was going to take her a lot to really dominate, like she did in our previous match."

Min's semifinal opponent is reigning Easter Bowl 14s champion Gabby Andrews, the ninth seed, who beat No. 4 seed Stephanie Nauta 6-1, 7-5. Andrews was down 5-2 in the second set before winning the final five games of the match.

In the boys 18s, top seed Bjorn Fratangelo continued his quest for a second straight Easter Bowl title with a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over unseeded Michael Redlicki. Fratangelo lost his break in the second set, but outsteadied Redlicki in the final crucial points of the tiebreaker.

"I had five or six match points, all on his serve," said Fratangelo. "But once I got the one on my serve at 6-5 I took it. Overall, I thought I played well."

Redlicki started well in the tiebreaker, hitting two aces, but with a minibreak in hand, he gave it back with a double fault to make it 3-3 at the change of ends.

Redlicki got another minibreak when Fratangelo hit a backhand wide, making it 5-4 in favor of the 6-foot-7 left-hander, and giving him a chance to take the set with the next two points. Fratangelo got it right back with a forehand winner behind Redlicki. At 5-5, Redlicki missed a sitter of a forehand, jumping up to put it away, but sending it well wide instead. Fratangelo made the most of his chance with a good first serve, which Redlicki couldn't handle.

The only International Spring Champion still left, Marcos Giron won his 15th consecutive match today, beating No. 5 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-2. Giron will play No. 4 seed Dennis Novikov on Friday, in a rematch of their first round encounter in Carson.

Top seed in the boys 16s, TJ Pura, fell to No. 11 seed Spencer Papa 7-6(6), 6-4. Girls 16s top seed Jamie Loeb advanced to the quarterfinals when Francis Dean retired trailing 1-0 in the first set.

The semifinals are set in the 14s age division. Top seed Henrik Wiersholm will meet No. 7 seed Ernesto Escobedo and No. 4 seed Martin Joyce will face Artemie Amari, a No. 17 seed.

In the girls 14s semifinals Friday, No. 8 seed Katerina Stewart plays No. 5 seed Maria Shishkina and No. 3 seed Julia O'Loughlin will face unseeded Chloe Ouellet-Pizer.

The 18s TennisLink site is here.

The 16s and 14s TennisLink site is here.