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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Seed Krueger Survives Monette's Challenge, Brady Ends Porter's Win Streak at ITF Pan American Closed

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Tulsa, OK--

In his opening round match at the ITF B1 Pan American Closed Monday, top seed Mitchell Krueger barely broke a sweat. Tuesday's second round encounter with Canadian Samuel Monette was a stark contrast, with the 17-year-old Texan playing one of the longest games of his career to record a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 win.

The game in question was in the opening set, with Monette serving at 5-3. Monette, a 17-year-old left-hander, fell behind 15-40, but saved both those break points with good first serves. The Canadian would save five more break points in the 11-deuce game, while Krueger would deny Monette five set points. Krueger earned one of the break points midway through the game by returning two Monette overheads, hitting a drop shot and then a lob winner, all this after a dozen ground strokes had been exchanged.

Krueger went to his towel, and Monette called to him, "are you tired or what?", but neither player needed more than a few seconds to collect himself and start the deuce-ad sequence again. When Monette finally hit a backhand on the line that Krueger couldn't return over the net, the marathon game was over.

Losing a game that physically and mentally draining might have discouraged Krueger, but he believed it ultimately helped him.

"He was pretty much killing me in the first set," said Krueger. "Up 4-1, and he had break points to go up 5-1. So I actually felt that game gave me a little bit of momentum, because I was hardly in any games at all in the first set. He was winning quick points, I was making errors and I felt like that game I dug deep and got a good feel for how I should have played against him."

Krueger got a quick hold to open the second set and hit three winners in breaking Monette at love in the next game. But in the third game, Monette had a point to get back on serve, which Krueger denied, and the set went quickly after that key point.

"That could have changed it completely," Krueger said. "But I got playing on my terms, because I felt he was kind of pushing me around in the first, playing the way he wanted to play, so I think I did a good job early in the second of getting into the way I wanted to play."

Krueger began to frustrate Monette with drop shots, as well as moving him from side to side. Late in the second set, Krueger began to sense fatigue from Monette, who took a bathroom break down 5-0.

In the third set, Monette stayed with Krueger, holding twice to start, but a double fault and a forehand wide gave Krueger a break for 4-2, and Monette's resistance was minimal after that, as he didn't win another point after 2-3, 30-30.

"I was kind of glad to have a tough match today," said Krueger. "I think this got me into the tournament pretty well, and I feel I'm really into it."

Second seed Marco Aurei Nunez of Mexico, third seed Filip Peliwo of Canada and fourth seed Connor Farren all had routine wins in the second round, but fifth seed Ricky Medinilla of Mexico barely escaped the challenge of Canadian Florin Bogdan Radu 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(3) in a match that lasted nearly three hours.

The only other seeds remaining are No. 14 seed Thai Kwiatkowski, who plays defending champion Peliwo Wednesday and No. 16 seed Carter Lin, who faces Krueger.

Noah Rubin advanced to the third round when Mitchell Polnet was defaulted for being 25 minutes late. Polnet said he was held up by an accident when returning from the supermarket. He did play, and win, his doubles match later in the day.

There are three qualifiers still among the final 16, with Ryan Smith, Ryan Shane and Josh Hagar winning their fourth consecutive matches Tuesday. Smith beat No. 12 seed Harrison Richmond 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, Hagar defeated Karim Arem 6-0, 7-5, and Shane downed No. 13 seed Austin Siegel 6-0, 7-6(8).

There is only one qualifier left in the girls round of 16, with Mariana Gould posting her fifth straight win: a 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over No. 12 seed Tristen Dewar.

Gould made it tough on herself, watching a 5-2 lead slip away, along with five match points in the eighth and ninth games of the second set. Dewar served for the set at 6-5, but made four unforced errors, and her erratic play continued in the tiebreaker, when she went down 5-2, with Gould serving. Three Gould errors made it 5-5, but a Dewar double fault gave Gould a sixth match point, and she converted it when Dewar sent a backhand wide.

Gould will next face Catherine Harrison, who defeated Daniela Schippers of Guatemala 6-1, 6-2.

Unlike the boys draw, most of the seeds in the 9-16 range remain, but another top 4 seeded girl fell today, when No. 4 Stephanie Nauta lost to 14-year-old Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-3, 6-2.

Jennifer Brady, the No. 13 seed, ended Peggy Porter's ITF winning streak at 17 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Porter, who had won three consecutive ITF tournaments this fall, fell behind early in the third set and could never quite pull even. Brady served for the match at 5-2, but some excellent returning by Porter gave her the game. Brady didn't need to serve for the match again however, as she broke Porter to complete the comeback.

"I started to play more aggressive," said the 16-year-old Brady, explaining her adjustment in the final two sets. "I was using my forehand to start the points and come into the net more. I got her more on the defense."

Brady will meet Breaunna Addison in the third round of Wednesday, after Addison defeated Makenzie Craft 6-1, 6-3. Josie Kuhlman, who defeated top seed Gabby Andrews on Monday, defeated Jamie Loeb 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 to reach the round of 16. No. 2 seed and 2010 finalist Christina Makarova defeated Rasheeda McAdoo 6-2, 6-2 and will play No. 16 seed Denise Starr Wednesday. Starr beat Jessica Cortes of Mexico 6-3, 6-1.

Complete results should be available later this evening on the TennisLink site.

The order of play for Wednesday can be found at the tournament page at usta.com.