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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Round of Doubles Completed Indoors at US Open Junior Championships

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Port Chester, NY--

With the rainy weather forecast, which proved accurate enough to prevent the scheduled men's and women's singles from being completed, the decision was made to finish the first round of junior doubles at the Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Club in Port Chester, New York.

Any of the juniors who were around last year were familiar with the club, which has hosted junior play for four of the last five years.  This year's schedule, with only 19 matches remaining to complete the doubles first round, proved more manageable, with all matches completed by 5:15 p.m.

With no-ad scoring and a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set, the four series of matches put on five courts went along quickly. One of the matches that lasted less than an hour was Allie Kiick and Samantha Crawford's 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ching-Wen Sue of Taiwan and Szabina Szlavikovics of Hungary.

The 18s National Champions, who also competed in the main draw of the women's doubles with the wild card they received for winning in San Diego, are not seeded, but their results together would suggest they are a threat.

"We started playing together, when we were what, 12?," said Kiick. "We played in a (Florida) Super Series together then and we were talking about what we made it to--the US Open main draw."

"She said, when we were 12, did you think we would be playing here?," Crawford added.

"It's really exciting, because we made it this far together," said Kiick.

In Tuesday's match, Kiick was very active at the net and they were able to win points quickly without the cross court rallies so prevalent in girls doubles.

"Obviously, Sam hits a really hard ball," said Kiick, 17. "The girls kind of struggle with getting it back, and if they do, it's fairly short, or easier for me to volley. She does all the hard work and I just put it away."

Crawford believes that Kiick's court coverage is also an important factor in their success.

"I just try to set her up as much as I can," said Crawford, also 17. "On the points, she's running a lot too, so I'm not doing all the hard work."

Another key ingredient in the pair's success is their friendship.

"We know each other really well, which I think helps a lot," said Kiick. "When I'm upset, she knows how to get me happy again."

"We always try to have fun," said Crawford.

Unlike Crawford and Kiick, No. 2 seeds Mitchell Krueger and Mackenzie McDonald are not long-time partners. In fact, their 6-4, 6-1 victory today over Temur Ismailov of Uzbekistan and Markos Kalovelonis of Greece was their first match as a team.

"I've wanted to play with Mitch for a very long time," said McDonald. "And I finally got him. I thought from the start we were going to be a solid team. He has a good serve, we both have good returns and solid volleys. I thought this combination would be great, because he returns really well from the backhand side and I return on the forehand side."

Krueger is playing in his last junior tournament, and he would have preferred to experience the excitement always buzzing around The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

"Looking at it now, that we won, it's okay," said Krueger. "But before the match, obviously you're here for the US Open and you want to play at the US Open. But I understand. They have their agenda when the rain comes. But hopefully the weather will hold out the rest of the week and we can get back to Flushing."

Krueger and McDonald may have posted a routine win, but top seeds Filip Peliwo of Canada and Kaichi Uchida of Japan needed a comeback to get out of the first round against Stefan Kozlov and Spencer Papa. Peliwo and Uchida took control late in the match tiebreaker to post a 4-6, 6-4 10-6 victory.

Other Americans posting doubles wins in the first round were in the girls draw. Sachia Vickery, playing with Francoise Abanda of Canada and seeded third, won over Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador and Bernarda Pera of Croatia 6-4, 7-5.  Christina Makarova, playing with Veronika Kudermetova of Russia won one of the day's most exciting matches, saving two match points in a 6-7(2), 6-2, 13-11 victory over the wild card team of Brooke Austin and Jamie Loeb.

As of this evening, no decision has been made on Wednesday's schedule. See the tournament website for draws and schedule.