Second Seeds Redlicki and Oosterbaan Survive, but No. 4 seeds McDonald and Smith Out in Fourth Round at Boys 18 & 16 Nationals
The first four days brought few surprises at the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships, but that changed on Tuesday, when the No. 4 seeds in both divisions were eliminated in the fourth round on another sunny and warm day at Stowe Stadium on the campus of Kalamazoo College.
The scorelines were drastically different in those results, with No. 4 Logan Smith falling to No. 32 seed Alexandru Gozun 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a match that lasted nearly four hours. Although a match of that length would normally be an advantage for Gozun's opponent in Wednesday's round of 16, by luck, that opponent, unseeded Shawn Hadavi, had a match nearly as long, outlasting William Little, also unseeded, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in three and a half hours.
The 18s No. 4 seed, Mackenzie McDonald, went out to No. 30 seed Shane Vinsant 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 15 minutes. Vinsant, the 2010 16s finalist in Kalamazoo, hasn't played a junior tournament since last year's US Open Junior Championships, concentrating instead on Pro Circuit events in advance of his freshman year at Texas A&M, which begins in a few weeks. But he recognizes the pressure inherent in returning to the juniors for the prize of a US Open main draw wild card, and the danger of putting too much into the seeding numbers.
"I didn't feel like the underdog or anything coming in," said Vinsant, who will be 19 in October. "I hadn't been playing junior tournaments, so it's just how it goes with the seeding and stuff. I know he's a really good player, and I was just looking at this match, not looking ahead at all."
"Playing against your peers is different, and I think it's a greater pressure," Vinsant said. "So I've had to get used to that a little bit again at this tournament."
Vinsant was comfortable playing on Court 1, not only from his experience in the 16s final in both singles and doubles, but also from his appearance in Friday's exhibition as part of the No. 1 doubles team with Mitchell Krueger.
"For some reason I was more nervous when I was on court 10 yesterday," said Vinsant. "Center court, I've played there a few times."
Having the home court advantage proved important for Paul Oosterbaan, the No. 2 seed in the 16s. Playing against No. 30 seed JT Nishimura, Oosterbaan had to save four set points in the opening set, eventually posting a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory.
"After I won the first set, I knew it would be pretty hard for him after having either four or five set points and not converting," said Oosterbaan. "I knew would be hard for him to come back from that, but he kept fighting pretty hard. The crowd was awesome and I didn't want to make them stay around for a third set, so I really had to get those points."
Oosterbaan's serve came through for him in the 5-6 game, when he faced three set points, and in the tiebreaker, although the fourth set point was on Nishimura's serve at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Fortunately for Oosterbaan, Nishimura, who plays two-handed on both sides, missed a routine backhand on set point, and then made another to give Oosterbaan his first set point. Oosterbaan hit a service winner to take the set, and although the second set was close, he again capitalized quickly win he got three match points with Nishimura serving at 4-5, hitting a return winner at 0-40 to send the lunchtime crowd home happy.
While Oosterbaan is hoping to capture the first 16s singles title by a Kalamazoo resident, a former 16s champion, 2010 winner Michael Redlicki, is looking to add an 18s title to resume.
It looked as if his quest might end quickly on Tuesday, against No. 32 seed Mac Styslinger, when Styslinger posted a 6-1 first set against the No. 2 seed. But Redlicki, another player starting college in a few weeks who has been competing exclusively on the Pro Circuit this year, knew he had a good chance to recover, and he went on to record a 1-6, 7-4, 6-3 victory.
"Nothing really changed," said Redlicki, who admitted to some nerves in the opening set. "I just slowed down and calmed down, because I knew it was far from over. I've played too many matches on the Pro Circuit being down a set and a break, most of the time, and coming back from those, so I knew it wasn't over until he actually won match point. That's the kind of mentality I went in with, and that kind of mentality pays off, as you can see."
Redlicki surrendered a 3-0 lead in the second set, but broke Styslinger at 4-5 to even the match. He spoke to his father during the 10-minute break before the third set, but he didn't make any changes to his game.
"I just came out there as if I never walked off the court," said Redlicki. "I didn't change my game, just played my game as I was, and I started well."
Redlicki took a 3-1 lead, but there wasn't a service hold for the next five games. Styslinger wasn't getting his first service in, and was broken for the third straight time to give Redlicki a chance to serve it out, and he did it at love, serving well and hitting two forehand winners, the final one on match point. Redlicki will face No. 16 seed Deiton Baughman in the round of 16 Wednesday.
In a morning match, top seed Mitchell Krueger defeated unseeded Brett Clark 6-0, 7-5, and will play unseeded Mihir Kumar on Wednesday. Kumar defeated No. 23 seed Martin Redlicki, Michael's younger brother, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4). Kumar is one of two unseeded players in the round of 16, joining Nick Wood, who beat No. 29 Austin Smith 6-4, 6-0 Tuesday.
No. 3 seed Dennis Novikov appeared to be rolling along against No. 18 seed Kristofer Yee, leading 6-2, 5-3, but Yee forced a third set before Novikov reasserted himself for a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory.
In the 16s, top seed Mitch Stewart kept his time on Court 1 short, beating unseeded McClain Kessler 6-3, 6-1. There are six unseeded players in the round of 16 in the younger division: Chase Colton, Catalin Mateas, Michael Genender, Shane Monroe, Hadavi and Cameron Klinger.
In doubles Tuesday evening, the top-seeded 16s team survived in a match tiebreaker, with Aron Hiltzik and Oosterbaan defeating No. 10 seeds William Griffith and Cody Rakela 6-4, 5-7, 10-6. The No. 2 seeds Baker Newman and Chase Perez-Blanco lost however, falling to unseeded Sameer Kumar and Daniel Rayl 6-3, 6-4.
Krueger and Vinsant, the top seeds in the 18s, defeated 13th seeds Luca Corinteli and Alexios Halebian 7-6(3) 6-3. No. 2 seeds Harrison Adams and Andrew Korinek needed a match tiebreaker to get by Sean Karl and Maxx Lipman 4-6, 6-3, 10-7.
For complete results, see the tournament website.