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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Giron Survives Rain Delay; Second Seed Frank Gets First Test at Boys 18s

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Kalamazoo, MI--

The crowds at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium can be forgiven for not being familiar with No. 2 seed Mitchell Frank. The 18-year-old Virginian spent so little time on the court in his first three matches—losing only three games total—there was hardly time for his presence to register.

On a cool and breezy Wednesday afternoon, Frank got substantially more exposure however, dropping the first set to No. 15 seed Austin Smith 6-3. But he then reverted to his previous form, winning sets two and three 6-1, 6-1.

“There was no reason for me to panic, down a set and a break,” said Frank, who trailed 1-0 in the second set before winning 12 of the final 13 games. “I just stayed in the match, kept working and things turned quickly.”

“When I saw the draw and saw his name, I knew he was playing well this summer, and I knew it was going to be a tough one to get through,” said the University of Virginia recruit. “I knew he could play really well, that he has big shots. I think the wind actually helped me more than it hurt me.”

Frank identified a key moment in the match, which came early in the third set.

“I was up a break 2-1 and up 40-0 and he brought it back to deuce,” said Frank. “I ended up holding, and that was actually a huge momentum shift for me, when it could have turned either way.”

Frank will play No. 23 seed Hunter Callahan in one of two 18s quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday.

Callahan also need three sets to advance in a much lengthier Court 1 match, defeating No. 11 seed Brett Clark 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Callahan served for the match at 5-4 in the third, after Clark had requested a trainer for treatment on his right shoulder. Whether it was due to the delay or nerves, Callahan played a loose game and was broken at love. The Ohio State redshirt freshman came right back to break Clark again in the next game however, and with a second chance, served out the match at love.

Callahan is not the only double digit seed to reach the quarters, as Junior Ore, the No. 29 seed, continued his impressive run with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over unseeded Charles Depaolo. Ore meets No. 9 seed Mac Styslinger in the other 18s quarterfinal on Thursday. Styslinger eliminated unseeded Dennis Mkrtchian 6-3, 6-2.

The top half of the draw has gone according to form, with No. 1 seed and defending champion Jack Sock continuing to roll. Sock defeated Emmett Egger 6-1, 6-1, the third straight opponent Sock has beaten by that score. Sock’s opponent in Friday’s quarterfinal will be No. 8 seed Alexios Halebian, who won his second consecutive three-set match, taking out No. 14 seed Spencer Newman 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-2.

The only 18s player to have his match disrupted by an unexpected cloudburst on Wednesday was No. 4 seed Marcos Giron. Giron led No. 21 seed Hunter Reese 6-3, 2-1, but the rain actually didn’t come at a bad time for him.

“In the second set, I broke him the first game, was up 2-0, and then he ended up breaking me back,” said Giron, who will begin school at UCLA this fall. “I was a little nervous, and then it started pouring. It rained for like one minute, but just poured, so the courts were wet and we waited for like an hour.”

Giron spoke to his coach during the rain delay and was told he wasn’t swinging out as he was in practice.

“I ended up doing that and it worked out well.”

Giron’s opponent in the quarterfinal is a familiar one—No. 5 seed Dennis Novikov, whom Giron beat in back-to-back weeks at April’s International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl tournament, both of which he went on to win.

“I’m sure he’s going to come out all pumped up for the match,” said Giron, who won those two matches in straight sets. “It’s good to have tough matches, because then you’re always mentally tough. He killed Dane (Webb), who’s a really good player himself, so you know the guy’s playing well.”

Novikov was so dominating in his 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 16 seed Webb that he finished before the rain began.

In the 16s, No. 2 seed Ronnie Schneider was expecting a very tough test from No. 15 seed Thai Kwiatkowski, saying in an interview on Tuesday that he thought Kwiatkowski should have been one of the top 3 seeds in the tournament.

Perhaps that regard for his opponent helped motivate him, but whatever the cause, Schneider’s 6-3, 6-2 win was an impressive display of power and control.

“I played so well today,” said Schneider, a 16-year-old from Bloomington, Ind. “I was really moving my feet, controlling the baseline, really just ripping my forehand. I didn’t think coming in I’d be able to control the match as much as I did, and as the match went on, I just got more and more comfortable. And my forehand was just on fire.”

In one of the two 16s quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday, Schneider will play No. 19 seed Roy Lederman, the reigning Eddie Herr 16s champion. Lederman closed out the fifth round in the younger division Wednesday evening with a 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 24 seed Stefan Menichella.

The other Thursday quarterfinal will be a rematch of the International Spring Championships 16s final between Noah Rubin and Nikko Madregallejo, which ended with Rubin taking a third-set tiebreaker.

Rubin, the No. 3 seed in Kalamazoo, defeated No. 14 seed Grant Solomon 6-3, 6-2, while Madregallejo had considerably more trouble dispatching No. 10 seed Yale Goldberg, posting 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.

Top seed Connor Farren avoided his usual slow start, but still ended up in another battle before downing No. 9 seed Spencer Papa 6-1, 7-6(7).
Papa served for the second set at 5-3, but lost three straight games, giving Farren the chance to avoid the drama of a tiebreaker. Farren was broken however, lost a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker, but ultimately converted on his third match point.

“He was playing really well the whole match, but I just got a little ahead of him on his serve,” said Farren, a 16-year-old from Northern California. “I was hitting my returns really well in the first set, and in the second set when I needed to.”

On Friday, Farren will play No. 13 seed JC Aragone, who defeated Easter Bowl champion and No. 5 seed Gage Brymer 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in a long and hard-hitting battle of Southern Californians.

Clay Court champion Luca Corinteli, the No. 4 seed, ended the run of unseeded John Carswell, but it wasn’t easy. Corinteli saw an early first-set lead disappear, but he rebounded for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory. His opponent in Friday’s second quarterfinal will be No. 32 seed Stephen Watson, who also needed a comeback to advance. Watson defeated No. 25 seed Garrett Auproux 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Friday’s semifinals in the 18s doubles are set, and will include top seeds Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow. Sock and Withrow came from a break down in the first set to defeat No. 10 seeds Michael Redlicki and Robert Stineman 7-6(6), 6-2. Sock and Withrow will play No. 8 seeds Emmett Egger and Mac Styslinger, who beat No. 4 seeds Mitchell Krueger and Dane Webb 4-6, 7-6(1), 10-7.

Fifth seeds Mitchell Frank and Junior Ore won over No. 14 seeds Brett Clark and Trey Strobel 6-0, 6-4 to set up a meeting with No. 7 seeds Nick Chappell and Marcos Giron.

Chappell and Giron beat No. 2 seeds Bjorn Fratangelo and Alexios Halebian 6-4, 7-6(4), in the evening’s last match, which ended on a point penalty. After missing a return at 5-4 in the tiebreaker, Halebian tossed his racquet and was given code violation by the chair umpire, which gave Chappell and Giron an unexpectedly sudden victory.

The 16s doubles quarterfinals will be played on Thursday.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.