Friday, October 7, 2011

Freshman Wild Card and Qualifier Reach Quarterfinals at ITA Men's All-American

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Tulsa, OK--

Last year a University of Virginia freshman received a wild card into the ITA All-American Championships and unseeded, stormed through the draw to take the title. This year, Mitchell Frank is poised to duplicate teammate Alex Domijan's accomplishment, having reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory Friday over No. 4 seed Chase Buchanan of Ohio State.

Frank, who turns 19 later this month, gave Buchanan fits with his solid ground strokes and great defense, and as they had on Thursday, the breezy conditions seemed to favor his conservative style. He also served well when he needed to and frustrated Buchanan into a flurry of forehand errors.

"I felt like I played pretty solid, defended well," said Frank, who had only played one college match prior to this week. "I don't think he played his best, and obviously the conditions are tough. Even when it's calmer, it really isn't, and I think that helped me today. It's always good to get a win in these kind of conditions, no matter how it gets done."

Frank, who won a round of qualifying at the US Open this year after receiving a wild card as Kalamazoo 18s finalist, thought that experience helped him.

"Coming off the US Open, I had a lot of confidence and obviously that translates well into the college game, where the guys are not quite as disciplined as the guys at the US Open."

As for winning the tournament as an unseeded freshman wild card, Frank isn't quite ready to leap that far ahead.

"Alex obviously had an amazing year last year," said Frank. "I'll do my best and see what happens, but I haven't really thought about it that way--to match what Alex did last year."

Frank's opponent in Saturday morning's quarterfinal is No. 6 seed Dennis Nevolo of Illinois, who advanced when Oklahoma qualifier Guillermo Alcorta retired with an arm injury, trailing 5-0 in the first set.

Regardless of what happens in Saturday's quarterfinals and semifinals, by advancing to the quarterfinals, Frank has earned a spot in the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Indoor Tournament next month in New York.

Another player not likely to have been in the field in New York without a quarterfinal showing in Tulsa is another Fighting Illini, senior Roy Kalmanovich. After winning three matches in qualifying, Kalmanovich now has won three more in the main draw, beating No. 8 seed Jose Hernandez of North Carolina 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Despite those six matches in five days, Kalmanovich, who has some impressive calluses on his racquet hand, said he wasn't tired.

"Honestly, I don't feel that bad," said Kalmanovich, comparing it to his experience this summer playing Futures events. "I played a lot of matches and it was hot. One tournament is four rounds of qualifying, I get to the third round and then immediately have to go through four rounds of qualifying at the next one. I was playing so many consecutive matches in the heat, so you learn how to manage that, and you realize a lot of fatigue is mostly mental."

Hernandez and Kalmanovich both center their games around huge forehands, but Kalmanovich was able to dial back a little bit when necessary in the wind.

"It's near impossible to play at a consistent level and hit the balls you really want to hit," Kalmanovich said. "You never feel comfortable, even when you have a ball you can swing out on, it's tough because it will sometimes knuckle, because the wind's moving. On one side you're against it, on one side you're with it, sometimes it changes direction randomly. So today, and yesterday, it was who could sustain a high level of footwork and a high level of concentration, and not get extremely frustrated when you miss into the fence."

Kalmanovich will play Oklahoma's Costin Paval in the quarterfinals. Paval defeated Big 12 rival Gonzalo Escobar of Texas Tech 6-3, 6-2.

Remi Boutillier of Fresno State had every reason to lose his composure. After saving a match point in his second set tiebreaker with Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia, Boutillier completely seized the momentum and quickly had a 4-0 lead in the third set. Just as quickly, he lost it, with Jenkins taking five straight games. Boutillier, a senior from France, never once showed a single sign of frustration, and serving at 4-5, 30-40, he saved another match point with a clean forehand winner. Two more winners later and he had gotten himself squarely back in the match. Breaking Jenkins quickly in the next game, Boutillier ran out to a 40-0 lead, getting his first three match points. But three errors later it was deuce, and the possibility of a third set tiebreaker increased. One more match point came and went, but Jenkins netted a backhand to give Boutillier chance number five, and after a good first serve, Jenkins' return found the net to give the 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-5 decision to Boutillier.

"I just try to play like it's a normal point," Boutillier said of his mindset on match point. "If I lose the point it's match, but I can't just focus on that. I need to see further, that if I win the point, I'm still in the game. I was just trying to stay out there, win a regular point."

Boutillier was almost anticipating Jenkins' comeback in the third set.

"I knew before the match he wasn't going to give up," said Boutillier. "Even when I was up 4-0, I knew he could come back anytime. I was expecting it, and it happened. I was just trying to stay positive, although it was kind of difficult."

Boutillier will play Georgia's Wil Spencer, who at No. 5, is the top seed remaining. Spencer has not lost a set in his three wins, and on Friday defeated qualifier Peerakit Siributwong of Oklahoma 6-3, 6-1.

The fourth quarterfinal will feature Southern Cal's Daniel Nguyen and Texas A&M's Alexis Klegou. Nguyen beat qualifier Charlie Jones of Vanderbilt, who was obviously feeling the effects of his three and a half hour match Thursday night against UCLA's Marcos Giron. Jones received a medical timeout at the end of the first set, but it appeared his back continued to give him trouble and he retired trailing 6-3, 3-0. Klegou had trouble shaking Brigham Young qualifier Georgy Batrakov, but he got a break at 4-4 in the third and served out a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

The doubles semifinals were set after two rounds of play on Friday. Top seeds Kevin King and Juan Spir of Georgia Tech will play the unseeded Auburn pair of Andreas Mies and Alex Stamchev in one semifinal. The other semifinal will feature No. 3 seeds Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola of Ohio State against the unseeded Georgia team of Sadio Doumbia and Ignacio Taboada.

The singles quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Central on Saturday, with the semifinals scheduled for 2 p.m. The doubles semifinals are scheduled for noon.

Complete draws can be found at the ITA tournament page.

At the ITA Women's Riviera All-American, the round of 16 and the quarterfinals were being played today. UCLA women's tennis is reporting that freshman qualifier Robin Anderson has reached the semifinals, but as of 8:30 CDT, the complete results have not yet been posted at the ITA Tournament page.