©Colette Lewis 2012--
Louisa Chirico is barely ten days removed from helping the US girls capture the Junior Fed Cup title on the red clay in Barcelona, yet she has shown no signs of jet lag the past three days. The 16-year-old from New York, who went 5-0 at No. 2 singles for the US team in Spain, has continued her fine play on the hard courts of the Michael D. Case Center, advancing to Thursday's quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over No. 12 seed Ellie Halbauer.
"I played really well in Spain and I gained a lot of confidence from that," said Chirico, who lost in the opening round of qualifying last year at this tournament. "I'm playing well now, so I'm happy that it translated, and hopefully I can keep going."
Against the 15-year-old Halbauer, Chirico had no difficulty breaking, but did struggle holding her own serve, giving up 4-3 and 5-4 leads in the final set. After breaking Halbauer for the third straight time, finally converting her fourth break point to take a 6-5 lead, Chirico was able to serve out the match.
"It got a little tight at the end, closing it out," Chirico said. "I was missing, started going for too much. She gets a lot back, so sometimes you tend to go for too much, but in the end I settled down and kind of grinded out the last few points and finished it."
Chirico will play No. 3 seed and 2010 finalist Christina Makarova in the quarterfinals, which will be their first meeting. Makarova downed unseeded Alexandra Morozova 6-2, 6-1, and like Halbauer, Makarova is adept at keeping the rally going.
Although familiar with hard courts, Chirico prefers clay, which she trains on most of the time at the USTA's National Center in Flushing Meadows.
"I've always loved clay and I really love the red clay," Chirico said. "I like it a lot, I like sliding, even on hard courts. Clay's definitely my favorite."
Top seed Carol Zhao of Canada dropped her first set of the tournament, but emerged with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over No. 14 seed Camila Fuentes. Fuentes, a left-hander, was using that to her advantage, especially on her serve in the second set, but Zhao took control in the third.
Zhao will play No. 9 seed Rasheeda McAdoo in the quarterfinals, after No. 7 seed Tornado Black retired down 5-3 in the first set. Black was seen tossing her racquet and berating herself before she retired, which caught her doubles partner McAdoo by surprise. Black, who said she had pain in her wrist, was seen by the trainer after her retirement from singles and was given permission to compete in doubles. Black said after she and McAdoo won their doubles match that she was not hitting backhands to protect her wrist.
Zhao was the only quarterfinalist taken to three sets in the perfect conditions Wednesday, which contrasted with the cold and wind that plagued the tournament's first two days. In the bottom half, No. 5 seed Jennifer Brady, a 6-1, 6-1 winner of No. 10 seed Denise Starr, will play unseeded 14-year-old Maria Shishkina, who beat unseeded Jessica Ho 6-4, 6-1. No. 6 seed Jamie Loeb downed unseeded Maddie Pothoff 7-5, 6-1, and will face No. 2 seed Francoise Abanda in the quarterfinals. Abanda struggled a bit in the first set against No. 15 seed Dasha Ivanova, but found her form in a 6-4, 6-0 victory.
The boys quarterfinalists also have two unseeded players among them. Fifteen-year-old Tommy Paul, who has never been beyond the semifinals of a Grade 4, has beaten two seeds in his first three matches, including his 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 7 seed Luca Corinteli today. Paul, who is now training at L'Academie de Tennis in Boynton Beach, will play No. 2 seed Spencer Papa, who needed three sets to get by unseeded Henry Craig 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Papa, a 16-year-old from Edmund, Oklahoma, saved a break point serving at 3-2 in the third set, with Craig chipping in a couple of errors, and when Papa broke him for the third time in the set, Craig lost his chance for the upset. Papa closed the match with an ace, to reach the quarterfinals of the Pan American Closed for the second straight year.
Canadian Brayden Schnur, the No. 5 seed, also reached the quarterfinals for the second year in a row when Dan Kerznerman, the No. 9 seed, retired with a back injury down 4-1 in the first set. Kerznerman was able to play doubles later in the day, serving underhanded.
Schnur will play No. 3 seed Thai Kwiatkowski, who earned a 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 16 seed Josh Hagar that was much more difficult than the score might indicate.
Martin Redlicki, the No. 6 seed, will play No. 4 seed Hugo Di Feo of Canada in the second match in the bottom half. Di Feo cruised past JC Aragone 6-1, 6-0, and Redlicki fought off a stern challenge from Grant Solomon 6-3, 7-6(3).
Top seed Noah Rubin trailed 5-2 in the opening set against unseeded 14-year-old Frances Tiafoe and it was over an hour before he could claim the first set, but Rubin, the 2011 Pan American finalist, finished quickly 7-6(5), 6-1.
Next up for Rubin will be unseeded Roy Lederman, who defeated another member of the USA's 14-and-under World Championship team, No. 11 seed Michael Mmoh, 6-4, 6-3 in just over two hours.
Lederman, who recently committed to Stanford University, was full of praise for his younger opponent.
"Our points were so long," said Lederman. "He's really good, hits the ball really well, it was just a grind. I said to myself, I'm older, if I can stay in the match, I'm going to have a good chance, because he's probably going to be more immature. But he's really, really good. I served well when I needed to, and stayed in the points as long as possible until he made the mistake, and that was the match."
Lederman was up 5-1 in the second set, but said he got a little nervous before a playing a good game to close out the match.
Because he's now earned admission to his dream school, Lederman is playing with less pressure than he felt before.
"I think it's helping my tennis also," said Lederman, a 17-year-old from Miami. "Before I was all stressed. How much scholarship am I going to get, what schools are going to offer me, it was really stressful. My goal has always been to go to Stanford and I didn't want to screw it up. Now I'm playing much looser, I'm enjoying tennis much more."
The doubles quarterfinals will also be played on Thursday, with the top five seeds still alive in the boys draw, and three of the top four seeds remaining in the girls draw.
For complete draws and Thursday's order of play, see the tournament page at usta.com.