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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Top Four Seeds Advance Easily in 18s Division at Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Top seed Jack Sock began his defense of the 2010 USTA Boys 18s National championship Saturday at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium, posting a clinical 6-3, 6-1 victory over Christopher Cox, but he may have been upstaged by No. 2 seed Mitchell Frank.

Despite a three hour and thirty minute rain delay at the halfway point of the match, Frank had no lapses in concentration or execution during his time on and off the court, defeating Trey Strobel 6-0, 6-0.

A series of rain showers moved through the Kalamazoo area around noon, right as Frank and Strobel reached the end of their opening set, but before Sock and Cox had been called to a court. Despite the disruption of his obvious momentum, Frank had no trouble picking up where he left off against the 17-year-old left-hander from Florida.

“I just hung around here, talked with a couple of guys, tried to stay relaxed, watched a couple of videos. Stay calm, but at the same time keep a strong state of mind and be ready to go,” said Frank, who will begin classes at the University of Virginia later this month. “Luckily I had a little bit of notice and I was able to come out strong, and that kept the match in my favor, when it could have turned easily.”

Despite taking the court four hours after he was originally scheduled, Sock wasn’t bothered by the delay.

“I was happy they didn’t start the warmups, so that you get out there and warm up, then get off, then come back,” said Sock, who was facing Cox for the first time. “It wasn’t too bad. We went and got some food, waited until the courts dried and came back. The mindset was still the same.”

Neither Sock nor Frank had played a junior tournament since the US Open Junior championships last September, spending the last 10 months on the Pro Circuit, gaining experience against older players while building their ATP rankings.

“I didn’t even think about this as a junior tournament,” said Frank, who brought an ATP ranking of 675, a career-high, with him to Kalamazoo. “I’m keeping the same mentality as I had in the Futures. Since April I’ve been playing some really good tennis. I’ve dealt with a lot of different players in a lot of different situations, so obviously that gives me confidence going into a tournament like this.”

Two weeks ago, Sock decided to join the ranks of professional tennis players, and prepared for the Kalamazoo tournament with the Adidas team, based in Las Vegas. With a week’s worth of instruction and training from Andre Agassi, Gil Reyes and Darren Cahill, and with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as a practice partner, it is no surprise Sock points to his fitness as his biggest improvement in the past year.

“I think the difference between this year and last year is my fitness level,” said Sock, whose ATP ranking is now 551. “I’ve been doing a lot of fitness and getting my legs and lungs ready for this week. The temperature’s not that hot but the humidity is pretty crazy here—I’ve had to change my shoes already here today in the middle of the match—and you’ve got to be prepared for a lot of things here.”

No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, the French Open junior champion, matched Frank’s feat, blanking Beck Pennington in their Saturday afternoon contest at the Western Michigan University courts. No. 4 seed Marcos Giron also advanced to the third round, defeating Jonathan Ho 6-3, 6-0. Fifth seed Dennis Novikov had a scare, dropping the first set to Jason Brown, but the rain delay helped him regroup for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Several seeded players in the 18s division lost their first matches of the tournament, but the top 16 seeds all reached the third round, which will be played Monday. Christopher Haworth(18) lost to Alex Petrone 6-0, 6-1; Andrew Adams(22) was beaten by Dennis Mkrtchian 7-5, 6-2; Danny Riggs(24) was a default/no-show; Mitchell Polnet(28) lost to Kristofer Yee 6-1, 6-1; and Eric Johnson(32) was beaten by Jordan Daigle 6-2, 6-3. Christian Harrison(27) withdrew before the tournament began.

The 16s division takes center stage on Sunday, with the seeds makingtheir debuts in the second round. The top four seeds in the 16s division are Connor Farren of Hillsborough, Calif., Ronnie Schneider of Bloomington, Ind., Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, NY, and Luca Corinteli of Alexandria, Va.

The third round of 18s doubles is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Western Michigan courts, with the second round of 16s doubles, postponed due to Saturday’s rain, set to take place at both WMU and Stowe Stadium.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.