Craft Ousts 2011 Champion Crawford; McPhillips Survives Another Scare; Hance Downs Top Seed in Boys 16s at International Spring Championships
©Colette Lewis 2012--
Makenzie Craft wasn't big on her chances against No. 5 seed and defending International Spring champion Samantha Crawford in Wednesday's second round action. In March, Craft had returned from a serious ankle injury, which required a boot and crutches and kept her from hitting a tennis ball for two months, and she made an early exit from the USTA Spring Nationals in Mobile a few weeks ago, so she wasn't expecting much against the big-hitting Crawford, certainly not a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.
"I was just like, please, make the score decent looking," said Craft, who has recently committed to Georgia for 2013. "Please don't get killed. But she definitely hits a hard, flat ball and I prefer that, I like that a lot. Usually my role is I like to be the aggressor, so today was interesting, because I knew I wasn't going to be able to do that with her--she's bigger, stronger than I am. So it was cool to try a different role as a tennis player."
Craft admitted that Crawford was not at her best in the match, and also pointed to an exceptional serving day as a reason for the upset.
"I think the key today was my serve for sure," said Craft, from Frisco, Texas. "I knew that breaking her was going to be hard and I was going to have to hold if I had a chance. I made a lot of first serves, and that really helped out."
Next up for Craft is No. 8 seed Stephanie Nauta, who beat Desirae Kawczyk 6-3, 6-2.
Crawford couldn't avoid the upset, but No. 2 seed Kyle McPhillips, for the second day in a row, managed to survive and advance. Down a match point in her 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 first round win over Louise Chirico on Tuesday, McPhillips didn't face quite that same urgency in her 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 win over Alyssa Smith Wednesday, but she was down a set and 4-0 before she finally relaxed and started going for her shots.
"In the second set, at 0-4, I got really loose, like I had nothing to lose," said McPhillips, who turns 18 Thursday. "When I loosened up, my footwork was better, I hit harder and was more aggressive, and played the way I needed to play to win."
McPhillips won five straight games to serve for the second set at 5-4, but she wasn't able to shake Smith, who broke to make it 5-5. But Smith was broken in the next game, and given a second chance, McPhillips finished the set. Smith, a Southern Californian who trains in Irvine, continued to fight throughout the third set, but McPhillips had found the form she had inexplicably misplaced at the beginning of the past two matches.
"I think I need to be physically and mentally prepared for the first point, and I think I'm not doing that," said McPhillips, who recently returned from two major tournaments in South America. "Tomorrow I'm really going to try from the first point to start out on fire."
McPhillips can't afford to get off to a slow start or play sloppily Thursday, when she faces the very dangerous 13-year-old Tornado Ali Black. Black, a semifinalist at the Grade A Copa Gerdau in Brazil last month, easily handled No. 13 seed Kelsey Laurente 6-3, 6-1, using a combination of consistency and aggression to frustrate the 17-year-old Floridian.
Top seed Taylor Townsend advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Breaunna Addison and will face No. 16 seed Blair Shankle Thursday. Shankle beat Kendal Woodard 6-2, 6-0. In addition to Crawford and Laurente two other girls seeds lost Wednesday, with Caroline Doyle beating No. 11 seed Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico 6-3, 6-4, and June Lee beating No. 14 seed Catherine Harrison 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
The boys draw was jolted by the withdrawal of No. 2 seed Spencer Papa, who is suffering from a shoulder injury and was unable to take the court for his first round doubles match Tuesday or his second round singles match this morning, putting Carter Lin into the third round via walkover.
Top seed Mitchell Krueger posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jack Murray, but three other seeds exited on Wednesday. Fifteen-year-old Henrik Wiersholm beat No. 9 seed Jordan Daigle 7-6(4), 6-1, Nikko Madregallejo defeated No. 7 seed Thai Kwiatkowski 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and 15-year-old qualifier Ernesto Escobedo eliminated No. 10 seed Lucas Gomez of Mexico 6-3, 6-4.
The first No. 1 seed of the tournament fell today in the boys 16s, with 13-year-old qualifier Connor Hance defeating top seed Ruadhan De Bruges of Australia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Hance, the reigning USTA Clay Court 12s champion, is most definitely a local, training with his parents at the South Bay Tennis Center in Torrance. He also had a promising career as a child actor, with his most famous role as the 5-year-old son of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who competed against Taylor Dent in a Genworth Financial commercial.
Hance has since moved his focus to tennis, and although he has been a top player in his age group for several years, he admits to some surprise at his performance in the 16s this week.
It was the 16-year-old De Brugues who seemed to tire in the third set however, and in the final game, with Hance serving to close it out, De Brugues made the type of errors that indicate fatigue.
“I started to play more aggressive and drive the ball more,” said Hance, of what he changed after dropping the first set. “And I started getting my first serve in. That was the difference.”
Girls 16s top seed Nicole Frenkel led No. 16 seed Ndindi Ndunda 6-3, 4-1 when Ndunda finally began to adjust to the conditions inside the vast and empty Stadium Court, where the match was moved due to lengthy matches on their originally scheduled court.
Ndunda served for the second set at 6-5, but was broken at love to put the match into a tiebreaker. The 14-year-old from Virginia had her first set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker and another at 8-7, and 13-year-old Frenkel had match points at 7-6 and 9-8, but they played on until, at 10-9, Frenkel hit a first serve that Ndunda thought was deep, but wasn't called out. Ndunda's return wasn't in the court, and she was expecting a fault call, but she didn't get it and Frenkel had survived against her doubles partner 6-3, 7-6(9).
For complete draws, see the tournament page at usta.com.