United States vs. Russia in Both 12s Finals at Eddie Herr International; Top Seeds in 16s Lose to Unseeded Americans
©Colette Lewis 2011--
The United States versus Russia, even in the post-Cold War climate, still adds a little edge to competition. On Friday, the Eddie 12s division championships will feature two Americans against two Russians, although it's doubtful any of the quartet of 12-year olds competing in the finals have any familiarity with that political history.
The boys final will feature No. 1 seed Alex del Corral of the United States against No. 2 seed Artem Dubrivny of Russia, while the girls final has No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia against unseeded Dominique Schaefer of the United States.
Neither Dubrivny nor del Corral had lost a set prior to the semifinals, and they continued their domination on a clear and chilly morning at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy. Dubrivny spoiled the prospects of an all-American final when he defeated Patrick Kypson of the US 6-1, 6-1, and del Corral made equally short work of No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia by a 6-2, 6-1 score.
The two girls semifinals were not nearly as straightforward.
Zhuk and American Jaeda Daniel battled for just over an hour before Zhuk broke with Daniel serving at 4-5 to take the first set. The length of the set wasn't due to any moonballing, but rather the long points and deuce games. The unseeded Daniel, who like Zhuk had not lost a set prior to the semifinals, had no trouble keeping up with the Russian in the pace department, but a few untimely unforced errors late in each set led to a 6-4, 6-4 win for Zhuk, who was celebrating her twelfth birthday today.
In the adjacent semifinal, it looked as if Schaefer's impressive run would end when she quickly dropped the first set to No. 9 seed Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-1. But the rail-thin Californian took a 5-2 lead in the second set, only to see that advantage disappear. In the tiebreaker, Schaefer showed no sign of nervousness or anxiety, waiting very patiently for Sebov to go for too much or to leave a spot on the court uncovered. Schaefer continued her dominance in the third set, and even a point penalty by a roving umpire for a third overrule couldn't distract her for completing the 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 upset.
The 12s doubles finals are also on Friday, after the singles, with Dubrivny and Popyrin, the No. 1 seeds, playing unseeded Juan Otegui and Camilo Ugo Carabelli of Argentina in the boys championship match, and Schaefer and Anna Bright, the No. 4 seeds, facing No. 7 seeds Ekaterina Antropova and Polina Golubovskay of Russia.
The quarterfinals of the 14s , 16s and 18s division are set, and in the 16s division, neither No. 1 seed advanced to the final eight.
Qualifier Jessica Ho has already won six matches in the girls 16s draw, with her biggest coming today, when she defeated top seed Valeria Bhunu of Zimbabwe 6-1, 6-1. Ho joins six other American girls in the quarterfinals, and only one of those is seeded, No. 9 Josie Kuhlman. Alyssa Smith, Caroline Doyle, Dasha Ivanova, Mariana Gould and Tornado Ali Black all defeated seeded players in today's third round. Black beat No. 2 seed Johnnise Renaud of the US 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.
The boys 16s top seed Hugo Di Feo also was eliminated today, with Gage Brymer of the US taking a 6-1, 6-3 decision from the Canadian. Brymer, who is not playing the Orange Bowl, is making the most of his opportunity in Bradenton.
"I like travel," said Brymer, one of the few Southern California players who made the trip. "I don't travel out of the country a lot, which I would like to start doing, play some more ITFs."
Brymer thought Di Feo's game matched up well with his, and he was comfortable from the beginning.
"He hits a pretty solid ball, well into my strike zone, so I felt like I was hitting pretty well," said the 16s Easter Bowl champion, who hadn't faced Di Feo before. "I felt good the whole time, solid."
Brymer's quarterfinal opponent is another Canadian, unseeded Tommy Mylnikov, who received entry into the main draw by winning the Bollettieri academy wild card tournament.
A third Canadian, No. 2 seed Brayden Schnur, was a point away from joining his doubles partner on the sidelines, but managed to squeeze past No. 16 seed Abhishek Alla of India 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-6(6).
On other American has reached the quarterfinals, qualifier Andrew Schafer, who beat No. 10 seed Alexander Sendegeya 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 today.
In the boys 14s, No. 4 seed Francis Tiafoe of the US is the highest seed remaining in contention for the title, and he will play 2010 12s champion Duckhee Lee of Korea in Friday's quarterfinal. The other American in the quarterfinals is No. 7 seed Tommy Paul, who won a tense 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) battle with No. 10 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany. Serving at 5-6, 0-30 in the third set, Paul played some phenomenal defense, winning six straight points to take a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker. Zverev came back to make it 4-4, but Paul put away a forehand after a long and well-played point to take a 5-4 lead. On the next point Paul kept the rally going until Zverev netted a backhand and converted on his first match point, when Zverev's shanked forehand went 30 feet in the air before coming down well behind the baseline.
In the girls 14s, the top two seeds, Renata Zarazua of Mexico and Naiktha Bains of Australia, have reached the quarterfinals, where they are joined by Americans Katerina Stewart, the fifth seed, Maria Shishkina and Ndindi Ndunda.
The biggest upset in the 18s today was posted by lucky loser Elena Maltseva of Russia, who beat No. 3 seed Indy De Vroome 7-6(4), 6-2. No. 15 seed Taylor Townsend of the US had no trouble with No. 4 seed Ilka Csoregi of Romania, taking the match by a 6-2, 6-2 score and extending her ITF junior winning streak to nine. Townsend will play unseeded Kelsey Laurente of the US, who beat Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The third American girl in in the quarterfinals is Stephanie Nauta, who continued her outstanding play this week with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kyle McPhillips of the US.
Fourth seed Mitchell Krueger is the sole American boy still in contention in the 18s. Krueger beat Thai Kwiatkowski of the US 6-2, 6-3, while No. 13 seed Alexios Halebian of the US fell to No. 2 seed Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-0, 6-1. Top seed and defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria saved a set point in the opening set and went on to beat Laslo Djere of Serbia 7-5, 6-2.
For the 18s draws, see the ITF junior website. For the other divisions, see the Tennis Information site.