Monday, December 5, 2011

Wild Card Adams Beats Third Seed, Woodard Saves Match Points in Third Set Tiebreaker Win as Orange Bowl Gets Underway

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Plantation, FL--

Because he didn't know if his request for a wild card would be granted, Harry Adams hadn't even practiced on clay, the surface of the Orange Bowl this year. Instead, the 17-year-old Texan spent last week practicing with Ryan Harrison and that proved to be even more valuable. In his first round match Monday against big serving Robin Kern of Germany, Adams beat the third seed 6-0, 6-7(6), 6-2.

"Before this tournament I got to hit with (Harrison) the whole week, so it definitely helped me returning (Kern's) serve," said Adams, who also works in Austin with Grant Doyle, the coach Harrison just hired for 2012. "It's always good to hit with people better than you, because you realize how hard you have to work and how much better you have to play to get to the next level."

Adams dominated in the first set, but although he wanted to get a good start, Adams couldn't take complete credit for the score.

"He made a few more mistakes than I was expecting, that's for sure," Adams said. "He handed me a few balls I wouldn't ordinarily get, I'm sure. But I played well, made a lot of returns. Against most people I guess his serve pretty much dictates the point, but I made him play."

The second set was obviously much closer, but even though he lost the set after having a match point, Adams maintained his focus. He broke in the first game of the third set, and although it's usually his forehand that produces the winners, Adams had another big advantage. He never dropped serve, and never faced a break point.

"I rely on my second serve, but my first serve percentage is usually pretty low," said Adams. "But I went back down to work with Grant Doyle and we really worked on that for three weeks solid and that's really paid off, as this match told."

Adams will play Canadian Filip Peliwo in the second round.

Other American boys winning on Monday were Connor Farren, who beat Vlad Cornea of Romania 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Noah Rubin, who upset No. 9 seed Karim Hossam of Egypt 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Six American girls won their first round matches on a warm and breezy Monday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, with the most dramatic victory posted by Kendal Woodard.

Woodard, who received a special exemption from Orange Bowl qualifying because she was still playing doubles at the Eddie Herr, saved two match points in a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8) win over Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic that started in mid-afternoon and ended under the lights.

Woodard had two break points with Siniakova serving at 5-5, but errors on both points cost her an opportunity to serve for the match. Siniakova held, and Woodard managed to serve her way out of a tough deuce game to force a tiebreaker.

The first match point belonged to Woodard, who used a serve and volley winner combination to take a 6-5 lead. Siniakova put away a forehand winner to save that match point, and hit a slice backhand pass to earn her first match point. She worked her way to an easy forehand sitter, but somehow missed it wide to make it 7-7. Woodard was approaching the net on nearly every point, and she missed a forehand volley long to give Siniakova another match point, but the 15-year-old Czech double faulted to make it 8-8. She missed a drop shot to give Woodard her second chance, this time on her own serve, and she took it, hitting a good first serve and a stretch forehand volley winner to finish.

Despite her net-rushing game, the 6-foot-2 17-year-old likes playing on clay.

"I like sliding around, and I do pretty well on clay, because with my reach, and sliding into balls, it's hard to pass me," said Woodard, who won the Eddie Herr doubles title with Jennifer Brady on Saturday. "Courts like these, with a lot of clay, my serve kicks high. I may not be able to hit the flat one as much, but I can go slice and kick."

Woodard's double partner also advanced in three sets. Brady beat No. 14 seed Carol Zhao of Canada 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Other American winners included Samantha Crawford, who dominated No. 11 seed Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar 6-0, 6-3, Christina Makarova, who beat Abbie Myers of Australia 7-6(3), 6-2, Julia Elbaba, a 7-5, 6-0 winner over Katy Dunne of Great Britain, and wild card Sachia Vickery, who beat Diana Bogoliy of Ukraine 6-0, 7-5.

Wild card Hayley Carter won the first set 6-0 in her match with Deborah Kerfs of Belgium, but rolled her ankle trailing 2-4 in the second set and was forced to retire.

Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Eugenie Bouchard will play their first round matches on Tuesday.

For complete results. including the 16s singles and doubles, and Tuesday's order of play, see the tournament website.