Top 18s Seed Krueger Survives in Three Sets; No. 7 Seed Schneider Wins Final Five Games to Reach Fourth Round
|Top seed celebrates after match point against Del Nunzio|
©Colette Lewis 2012--
Perfect tennis weather provided an ideal backdrop to several scintillating third round matches Monday, with 18s top seed Mitchell Krueger and Richard Del Nunzio leading the way.
As one of the day's featured match for the large lunchtime crowd enjoying temperatures in the low 80s and abundant sunshine, Krueger and Del Nunzio delivered some high quality tennis, and some suspense, before Krueger escaped with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Krueger appeared to be ready to take the opening set when Del Nunzio, serving at 5-6, fell behind 0-40. But Krueger was unable to take advantage of those opportunities, and Del Nunzio, playing both aggressively and precisely forced a tiebreaker. Krueger failed to take advantage of an early 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, and pressing to do too much with his ground strokes, lost the final six point to give Del Nunzio the first set.
The errors Del Nunzio avoided in the first set appeared in the second, but Krueger was unable to shake the 18-year-old New Yorker until late in the set.
The 10-minute break that is new this year for the 18s division came as something of a surprise to Krueger, who hasn't played a USTA event this year, and not a particularly welcome one at that.
"I actually didn't want it," said Krueger. "I haven't had a 10-minute break between sets for years now. I didn't know that the rule had changed until the umpire told me. I just sat in the shade and talked to my coach, but I felt that if I just hung in there, I would get my chances. The third set was a lot closer than it probably should have been, the first five games were breaks, but I think I handled it pretty well. It was definitely a tough match to get through."
Del Nunzio continued to pressure Krueger to come up with good shots, but once Krueger took the lead at 4-2 in the final set, he kept control. Del Nunzio held for 4-3 and 5-4, forcing Krueger to serve it out, but Krueger didn't let Del Nunzio into that final game. A good second serve, and big first serve and a forehand winner made it 40-0 and Krueger forced an error to convert his first match point.
"I think it's good to challenged early," said Krueger, who recently turned pro. "I think I'm mentally in it now. A win's a win. I'll take a win no matter what."
While Krueger was holding off Del Nunzio on Court 2, 2011 champion Ronnie Schneider was on Court 1 for the first time since he won the 16s title there last year. Now in the 18s division, the seventh-seeded Schneider was facing the end of his eight-match winning streak in Kalamazoo against unseeded Connor Clements, trailing 5-2 in the final set. But telling himself he was not going to lose the match, Schneider took advantage of Clements' inability to close it out and he came away with a 6-0, 3-6, 7-5 victory.
"I did not want to lose it, and I kept telling myself, you're not going to lose this, you're not going to lose this," Schneider said. "I wanted him to beat me. I put the ball in his court on his racquet to try and beat me and it just worked out."
Schneider said he hoped he could take the positives from that close call, especially his play to open and close the match.
"I need to take the good from the first set. I played really, really well in the first set, and I played a good five games to end it," said Schneider. "I need to take that the rest of the tournament and learn from it."
Four of the 17-32 seeds lost Monday in the 18s division, but the top 11 seeds advanced into Tuesday's fourth round.
In the 16s, two of the top four seeds struggled, but No. 1 Mitch Stewart and No. 2 Paul Oosterbaan made quick work of their third round opponents. Stewart beat Peter Leung 6-2, 6-1, and Oosterbaan blanked David Hager 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 seed Aron Hiltzik trailed 6-2 in the first set tiebreaker against Carsten Fisher, but saved those four and one more set point. The second set was nearly as close, but again Hiltzik came out on top, taking the match 7-6(7), 7-6(4).
No. 4 seed Logan Smith trailed 4-2 in the final set against Victor Pham, but rallied to post a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 win. No. 9 seed Sameer Kumar was the highest 16s seed to fall on Monday, with 2011 14s National Champion Cameron Klinger earning a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory in a high quality match between two 15-year-olds.
There were no 18s doubles played on Monday, but the third round of 16s doubles was played at Western Michigan University. The top two teams--Hiltzik and Oosterbaan at No.1 and Baker Newman and Chase Perez-Blanco at No. 2--advanced in straight sets, but the No. 3 seeds, Stewart and Toshiki Matsuya, lost to the Whitehurst twins, Terrance and Terrell, 6-4, 6-4.
For complete results, see the tournament website.