Top Four Seeds Breeze into Third Round; Li, Anton-Ohlmeyer Oust Seeds; 2010 Semifinalist Collins Survives at Girls 18s Clay Court Championships
©Colette Lewis 2012--
The top four seeds advanced to the third round without incident Monday, but there was no shortage of compelling matches at the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts at the Racquet Club of Memphis.
Conditions were typical for Memphis in mid-July: hot and humid, with only an occasional breeze giving a small measure of relief.
Top seed and defending champion Gabby Andrews was fortunate to have an 8 a.m. match, which is always preferable to being on the courts at midday, and she didn't waste much time, defeating Lindsey Hodge 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour. Second seed Brooke Austin was stuck with a late afternoon match in the hottest part of the day, but she came through with a 6-1, 6-1 decision over Macy Vonderschmidt. Most of the deuce games in the match were on Austin's serve; she had more success returning Vonderschmidt's serve than she did with holding her own.
No. 3 seed Ashley Dai dropped only one game to Tiffany Tavares, and No. 4 seed Jamie Loeb showed similar dominance in her 6-0, 6-1 win over Kandis Legall.
Although all of the top eight seeds advanced, there were several in the 6-16 category who didn't survive their first match.
Catherine Harrison, the No. 12 seed, was playing in her fifth and last Girls 18s Clay Court championship, which is her hometown National, but there will be no title for the Germantown, Tennessee resident after she fell to Sherry Li 7-6(6), 6-3. Harrison had two set points serving at 6-5 in the opening set, but she converted neither and fell behind 6-2 in the tiebreaker. She fought all the way back to 6-6, saving four set points, but couldn't handle a drop shot by Li so faced a fifth. Her serve, which had given her trouble throughout the opening set, let her down again on the next point when she double faulted to give Li the set.
Li made fewer unforced errors in the second set, and once Harrison fell behind a break, she was unable to get it back. Li was able to stay in the point long enough to benefit from Harrison's errors, which probably outnumbered her numerous winners.
No. 10 seed Rachel Pierson lost to Rima Asatrian 6-4, 6-4, No. 13 seed Makenzie Craft fell to Keisha Clousing 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 and No. 9 seed Lexi Borr was beaten by Alex Anton-Ohlmeyer 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
The 17-year-old Anton-Ohlmeyer, playing in her first Girls 18s Clay Courts in Memphis, was determined not to let her inexperience on clay play too big a role in her strategy.
"I just went in trying to play my own game rather than try to play like a European clay court player," said Anton-Ohlmeyer, who is from Laguna Niguel, California. "I did that in the first set, and I had very few errors. In the second set, she started coming back and changing up her game. Then in the third set, it was just survival of the fittest."
Borr, the Spring Nationals finalist, never conceded the final set, even when she was down 4-0. She got one of the breaks back to make it 4-1, but was again broken, and Anton-Ohlmeyer, who kept the ball extremely deep throughout the contest, served for the match. With Borr making a break for the net at every opportunity, Anton-Ohlmeyer was taken by surprise on several points, and she was again broken for 5-2. Borr saved two match points serving in the next game and held, and saved two more with Anton-Ohlmeyer serving at 40-15, with Borr's forehand volley again proving decisive.
Anton-Ohlmeyer showed no signs of frustration however, with a quick clench of her left fist the only emotion she conveyed throughout the final two sets. She earned her fifth and final match point when Borr hit a backhand wide, and on the next point, a Borr forehand beyond the baseline gave Anton-Ohlmeyer the win in their first meeting.
"I knew she was going to be a tough opponent, because she doesn't miss much," said Anton-Ohlmeyer, who trains at Woodbridge Tennis Academy in Irvine, Calif. "It was very physically demanding. It was tough, but it was a really good match."
No. 16 seed Danielle Collins, who reached the semifinals here last year, trailed 15-year-old Jessica Ho virtually the entire match, but pulled out a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory by winning the final five games of the match. Ho served for the match twice in the second set, at 5-4 and 6-5, but she never got to match point, with Collins coming up with some big shots when she needed them. Collins played well in the tiebreaker, but was concerned when the players had to take a 10-minute break after the second set due to the heat.
"That was kind of tough, because it threw my momentum off a little bit," said Collins, who hadn't played a tournament since February, due to a minor injury and senior activities, including her recent graduation. "I got frozen I guess. I didn't come out playing too bad, but I had a sloppy two games at 2-1 to go down 4-1. But I started getting my rhythm again and it wasn't really a problem after that."
Ho gave up her break by double faulting twice at deuce to make it 4-3, and Collins took a 5-4 lead with a perfect lob winner. Her serve had been balky throughout the match, but she only missed one in the final game.
"My serve's definitely never been my weapon," said Collins, who will be joining the University of Florida this fall. "But I'm glad I was able to serve under pressure the way I did."
Collins said she felt no additional pressure playing the much younger Ho, or coming back after reaching the semifinals last year.
"I never got really nervous in the match," said Collins, who believes she ultimately will benefit from the long and tough opener. "Because at this point all I can really do is try my hardest, do my best, because I haven't had a lot of matches, any matches, coming into this. So I just need to try to get a feel for this, try to improve with each match I play."
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