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Monday, October 10, 2011

Kuhlman Upsets Top Seed Andrews, Addison Takes Out Zhao in First Round Play at Pan American Closed

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Tulsa, OK--

When Josie Kuhlman looked at the draw Sunday night and saw she was playing top seed Gabby Andrews in the opening round of the ITF B1 Pan American Closed, she wasn't disappointed.

"I was actually really excited," said the 15-year-old from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., who is ranked some 650 spots lower than Andrews in the ITF junior rankings. "I hadn't played Gabby in a couple of years, so really wanted to play her again, was really excited for the match."

Kulhman made the most of her opportunity, beating Andrews 7-5, 7-6(2) despite trailing in both sets.

Andrews was up 3-0 in the first set, and 4-1 in the second, but in both instances Kuhlman was able to get the break back. She served for the first set at 5-4, but Andrews saved a set point with a forehand winner and Kuhlman contributed a double fault and was broken. Andrews, who was struggling with her consistency, was immediately broken and Kuhlman again served for the set at 6-5. Andrews saved a second set point with a drop shot, but on the third her passing shot was long and Kuhlman had the first set.

In the second Andrews made fewer errors, but was still struggling with her serve. Her strategy of bringing Kulhman in worked well at times, but she wasn't able to employ it regularly. Kuhlman knew she couldn't just trade ground strokes with Andrews.

"Gabby plays pretty flat and looks to attack, so I was looking to take control early in the point, get on the offense early and not let her get a chance to dictate play. I just thought I played well today."

In the tiebreaker, Kuhlman's level rose, hitting four winners with only one error on a return, to take a 4-2 lead. Andrews hit a forehand long to make it 5-2 and then a double fault really put her in a hole. She missed her third straight serve on the next point, and Kuhlman completed the upset by blasting a forehand return winner for the 7-5, 7-6(2) victory.

"It's definitely one of my top wins," said Kuhlman. "She's a great player, so it's one of my best."

The top half of the girls draw lost another high seed on the same court at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center later that afternoon, when wild card Breaunna Addison beat No. 3 seed Carol Zhao of Canada 6-3, 6-3. Addison had not played in nearly a year for a combination of reasons.

"After a really tough tournament at hard courts (in 2010), I decided I just needed to take a break," said Addison. "So until about December, I didn't pick up a racquet. Then in December I had knee surgery, the meniscus tearing and scarring, so they just went in and cleaned it up. I tried to come back in March, but had to retire in an ITF, because I just wasn't ready to come back."

Addison began training at L'Academie de Tennis in Boynton Beach, Fla. and spent the summer preparing for a return to tournament action. She won two women's Open tournaments prior to Tulsa, which helped her confidence and her match toughness.

"I thought I was going to be dead, because she's such a good player," said Addison, who will be 17 in December. "I'm not as tired, I guess because I've been working on my fitness a little bit."

Against Zhao, Addison was hitting the ball cleanly and deep, and winning almost all the long rallies. Zhao, who had just returned from helping Canada to the finals of the Junior Fed Cup, was not sharp, but much of that was due to the depth and pace of Addison's ball.

Due to wet courts Monday morning, there was a two-hour delay in the start of play, and as of 10 p.m. there were still several girls matches yet to be completed. Other seeds to fall in the first round were No. 6 seed Samantha Crawford, who lost to Catherine Harrison 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and No. 7 seed Victoria Rodriquez of Mexico, who lost to Katrine Steffensen 7-6(3), 6-2.

There were fewer major upsets in the boys first round, with all four top seeds advancing. Mitchell Krueger, the No. 1 seed, had no trouble at all against Santiago Cevallos of Mexico, finishing his 6-0, 6-1 win in less than an hour.

Second seed Marco Aurei Nunez of Mexico had considerably more trouble with Daniel Khanin before posting a 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(1) win. Nunez was up 5-1 in the third set, but couldn't put Khanin away until the tiebreaker. Khanin's shots kept finding the net in that last game, with Nunez not required to do more than keep the ball in play.

No. 3 seed Filip Peliwo of Canada began the defense of his title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Luca Corinteli. Peliwo qualified for the US Open junior championships and won two rounds, and also has had success on the Futures circuit this summer and fall, so he is pleased with his level of play coming into Tulsa.

"Last year I came into the tournament with a bunch of technical changes, so technically and game-wise, I wasn't feeling that great, I was just really toughing it out, mentally trying to find a way to win" said Peliwo, 17. "This year I feel my game's come together a bit more. I'm controlling the points better, stepping in. It's just more of a complete game, and I feel confident in my game."

Against Corinteli, Peliwo survived a couple of break points in the fourth game of the opening set, then immediately broke the 16-year-old American. Peliwo's only stumble of the match came when he was broken serving for the set at 5-2, with his first serve deserting him in that game, but he completed the task in his next opportunity and ran out to a 4-0 lead in the second to take control.

"The big points, I think I played well," said Peliwo. "Whenever I needed to, I came up with a solid point and got the job done today. I can't say I felt great, but a pretty comfortable win, I'd say."

Many of the upsets that did occur in the boys first round were courtesy of Americans. Nikko Madregallejo defeated No. 8 seed Luis Pilatuna of Mexico 6-2, 6-4 in a match that was played indoors before the outdoor courts were dry. Mitchell Polnet downed No. 6 seed Edward Nguyen of Canada 6-3, 6-2, also indoors, and Spencer Papa beat No. 9 seed Hugo Di Feo of Canada 6-1, 6-2. Trey Strobel was the only American seed to lose, falling to qualifier Josh Hagar 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.