Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Loeb's Win Streak Reaches 27 as Top Seeds Continue to Roll at USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Memphis, TN--

Jamie Loeb isn't quite sure when she last lost a match. After winning tournament after tournament the past two months, from USTA Eastern Sectionals on hard courts to ITF Junior tournaments on clay and grass, to her first Pro Circuit title on clay, the 17-year-old New Yorker has apparently forgotten how to lose.

After a 6-2, 6-0 win over Katherine Butler in the third round of the USTA Girls 18s National Clay Courts, Loeb has run her win streak to 27 matches, with her last loss to Breaunna Addison in the first round of the Easter Bowl.

"Springs and Carson was a little bit of a disappointment to me," said Loeb, who lost in the first round at the International Spring Championships as well as the following week at the Easter Bowl. "But I just kept training hard and working hard and after Delray (the ITF Grade 4), things just started clicking, and so far I've been in a nice little streak."

Loeb's confidence has grown with each win, and it really began to soar after her win at the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Buffalo, just over two weeks ago.

"It was really exciting," Loeb said. "The first pro event I've won, the second one I've ever played. Especially being unseeded and playing against all these women with a lot more experience than me. I played loose, with nothing to lose, and just went out there giving it everything I've got, and I ended up winning."

Today against Butler, Loeb, the fourth seed, was up a break at 3-2 in the first set when she locked in, winning the final nine games of the match. She kept the ball consistently deep, made few errors, hit winners when she got the opportunity and transitioned to the net when sensing Butler was on the defensive.

"I've been improving my net game," said Loeb, who had several drop volley and drive volley winners today.  "I'm more comfortable coming to net and using a variety of shots. I feel that's maybe one of my stronger points now, not playing the same way every point. I'm mixing things up and keeping my opponent guessing."

Joining Loeb in the fourth round are top seed and defending champion Gabby Andrews, No. 2 seed Brooke Austin and No. 3 seed Ashley Dai, all of whom came through in straight sets on show court 4.

Dai began another hot and humid day at the Racquet Club of Memphis by defeating Natalia Janowicz 6-2, 6-4. Taking advantage of a lapse by Janowicz late in the first and early in the second set, Dai protected her serve throughout while Janowicz was spraying balls all over during a five game stretch. Janowicz was down 2-0 in the second set before she found her form again but it was too late with Dai holding serve the rest of the way, and closing out the match with a forehand winner on her first match point. Dai will face a tough unseeded player on Wednesday, in Louisa Chirico, who advanced over Alison Ho, a No. 17 seed, 7-5, 6-1. Chirico won the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Sumter South Carolina in May as a qualifier.

Austin defeated Alexandra Chatt 6-0, 6-1, with the consistent pace and accuracy on her ground strokes too much for Chatt. Andrews led Shannon Hudson 4-0 in the first set before dropping three straight games, but the top seed was able to save a break point serving for the first set and got an early break in the second to post a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Madeline Lipp(5), Maegan Manasse(6), 2011 finalist Denise Starr(7) and Spencer Liang(8) all recorded straight-set wins, as did Stephanie Vlad, a 2011 semifinalist, who is a No. 17 seed this year. There are 12 unseeded players in the round of 32 as well as the top eight seeds.

Doubles were not played today, but will resume on Wednesday.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.