©Colette Lewis 2012--
After losing eight matches to USTA junior girls on the first day of the Collegiate Invitational Presented by Adidas Friday, the college players reversed their fortunes on Saturday, going 6-2 in round robin play at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.
Kimberly Yee and Brooke Austin picked up the juniors' two victories, with Yee defeating Portland State's Daria Burobina 6-1, 6-1 and Austin downing Andjela Nemcevic of Washington 6-4, 6-2. Yee and Austin are tied at the top of their round robin groups, and on Sunday morning will face undefeated opponents from the University of Georgia with a spot in the USTA Wild Card Shoot-out on the line.
Yee will play Maho Kowase and Austin will face Kate Fuller, while another Georgia Bulldog, Lauren Herring, will also be playing for a spot in the Shoot-out. Herring defeated USTA junior Caroline Doyle 6-2, 6-4 Saturday, and the sophomore knows exactly what it was like to be in Doyle's position. While a junior, Herring competed on several USTA National Junior teams when they played dual matches against Division I schools.
"I played Miami, I played Georgia and I played Florida," said Herring. "And it's different, very different. As juniors, you come out here and you have nothing to lose. It's so easy to go out there and swing free, just play your game. But I think I've handled it a lot better in college, because you've been in a lot tougher situations in college. As a freshman, I was put in situations where it came down to me, and I won some and I lost some. Those are invaluable experiences that you can take with you and apply in situations like this."
Herring, along with Fuller and Kowase, will be playing in the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York next Thursday, but Herring doesn't see the coast-to-coast travel as a negative.
"I think this is actually a very good warm-up," Herring said. "Regionals was weird, because it was outdoors and it was kind of slow. But coming here indoors and New York being indoors, it's a very different environment, so I'm glad I got to come here and play this tournament with the juniors, some really good matches you get in before New York."
Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace admits his three players will be tired after the fall season ends next week, yet he knows there are benefits to all the competitive matches.
"I've always felt that a tournament is better practice," Wallace said. "We could be at Athens this weekend, practicing at our indoor courts, and to be honest with you, I'd love to be in the football stadium right now, but this is more important for us. We've got to be here, competing, playing matches and staying sharp. I realize it's going to be a tough two weeks and at the end of the two weeks we'll be tired, but that's all right. We're concluding our fall season with these two indoor tournaments. I made a decision that this would be a great event to support, and I think that overrides that it's going to be a lot of travel in two weeks."
Georgia has gone 7-1 over the first two days of play in singles and had two teams in the doubles semifinals, so Wallace is happy with the level of play he's seen, but Sunday's Shoot-out, where the eight winners of the round robin groups will play 12-point tiebreakers until there is only one player left undefeated, is especially appealing to him.
"I think tomorrow's going to be a blast, when we do this new format," Wallace said. "I've been coaching for 28 years and I like to think I've seen a lot of different formats and a lot of different things, but tomorrow's going to be a brand new day for me, and that's going to be pretty neat."
The winner of the Shoot-out receives a main draw wild card into a Pro Circuit event.
In addition to Herring, Kowase and Fuller, there are several other players who will advance to the Shoot-out with a win, including UCLA's Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips and Texas A&M's Nazari Urbina and Wen Sun, all of whom are 2-0 going into Sunday's matches.
Saturday's records for the seven schools participating: Georgia 4-0, UCLA 3-1, Michigan 3-1, Texas A&M 2-1, Duke 1-1, Washington 1-3 and Portland 0-3.
The doubles title went to UCLA's unseeded Skylar Morton and Kyle McPhillips, who defeated the top two seeds Saturday to claim it. Morton, a sophomore, and McPhillips, a freshman, had played together a few times in their junior days, but this was their first tournament as a team in college.
In the semifinals, they topped No. 1 seeds Fuller and Herring of Georgia 9-8(4), and in the final they defeated No. 2 seeds Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender of Michigan 9-7.
At 7-7, they broke Bolender, and with McPhillips serving for the match, took a 40-0 lead. After two errors by Morton, they were down to their last one, but a good first serve that Bektas couldn't return gave them the win.
"It was a good win," said Morton. "We had good matches and every match was tough."
"We didn't know who we were playing, literally until they walked out on the court," said McPhillips, "so it was always just winging it, and we did a good job."
Morton said she enjoys playing with McPhillips because she is so "spontaneous."
The decisions they made on the court were nothing compared to what they face when selecting the words for their custom-made shoes, which are provided to the winners of doubles and singles by tournament sponsor Adidas.
"I'm going to put Ky-Ky on mine," said McPhillips, who then changed her mind. "I'm going to put Skylar, her name, on them, so I can think about her every time I play. She'll inspire me."
Sunday's schedule has singles matches at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., with the Shoot-out to follow at noon.
For complete results, see the tournament website.
At the USTA Clay Court Invitational for men at Disney World, USC's Roberto Quiroz and Duke Michael Redlicki are in the finals of the Gold draw. For the results of the other draws, including the junior players, see the Florida State website.