Qualifiers and Wild Cards Find Success in Eddie Herr ITF; Prince Exhibition Featuring Malisse and Isner Draws Huge Crowd
©Colette Lewis 2012--
The first round was completed in all divisions Tuesday, with another day of perfect weather keeping the Eddie Herr International on schedule.
In the 18s division, only 21 singles matches were played, so the opportunity for surprises was limited, but the qualifiers, with three wins under their belts, had notable success.
Qualifiers Gabriella De Santis of Venezuela, Olga Ianchuk and Olga Fridman of Ukraine and Alexandra Morozova of the US all picked up first round wins, while on the boys side five qualifiers advanced to the second round: Henry Craig and Dan Kerznerman of the US, Vadym Kalyuzhnyy of Ukraine, Gustav Hansson of Sweden and Jan Zielinksi of Poland.
Morozova defeated Klaartje Liebens of Belgium 6-2, 6-3, a win she called one of her best.
"I was playing a girl that was like 100 in the world, so this was actually one of my biggest wins so far," said the 17-year-old from Florida, who is now training with Frank Salazar at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park Maryland. "It's a really good confidence booster, and I hit the ball really well today, made a lot of balls in, and waited for her to miss. She's kind of streaky, and I always stayed positive."
Morozova lost in the first round at the Yucatan Cup in singles, but reached the quarterfinals in doubles, so she didn't have much time to make the adjustment from hard courts to clay courts.
"Honestly, it's pretty difficult," said Morozova. "But it only took me two days to get used to it. I got here really late on Friday and had to go through my qualies matches. But two of my matches I won 0 and 0, so I guess the adjustment was pretty easy."
Morozova said she had been able to keep the ball in play more consistently this tournament.
"A lot of times I make a lot of errors," Morozova said. "It's a problem I have. And I just being really positive as well, looking for the next point and paying attention to every point."
Morozova's second round opponent on Tuesday No. 14 seed Jennifer Brady.
"Jenny's like one of my best friends, so it's going to be a tough one," Morozova said.
Wild cards who have advanced to the second round are boys Henrik Wiersholm, Deiton Baughman, Ronnie Schneider and girls Naiktha Bains and Louisa Chirico.
The only seeds losing in singles today were girls No. 12 seed Katy Dunne of Great Britain and boys No. 10 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea, but in doubles, top girls seeds Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia and Carol Zhao of Canada lost to Ilze Hattingh of South Africa and Katrine Steffensen of the US 1-6, 6-3, 12-10.
In the younger age divisions, top seeds in the 14s--Usue Arconada of the US and Orlando Luz of Brazil--moved into the second round with straight set wins.
The No. 2 seed in boys 12s, Roscoe Bellamy of the US, cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Jose Garmendia of Chile, while the No. 2 seed in the girls 12s, Nicole Conard, had more of a challenge, recording a 7-6(8), 6-3 win over Russia's Kamilla Kokeladze.
Two of the day's longest matches took place on courts 11 and 12, and both ended in third set tiebreakers. In boys 12s, qualifier Robert Hammond of the US defeated Joaquin Lejarza of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) in a match that started at 9 a.m. and finished after noon. In the boys 14s, John Jorgeson of the US saved three match points to defeat No. 15 seed Dylan Bednrczyk of Canada 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6). After more than three hours, trailing 5-1 in the tiebreaker, Jorgeson, known as Jack to his friends, was still receiving encouragement from his fellow Bollettieri students, and they continued to shout his name even as he faced a 6-3 deficit. Bednrczyk, feeling the pressure, began to miss, while Jorgeson waited him out, and when the Canadians backhand went wide on Jorgeson's first match point, the cheer from his friends two courts away was so loud the roving umpire had to quiet them down, so as not to disrupt the match in progress on the court closest to them.
With doubles for the 12s, 14s and 16s not beginning until Wednesday, the only tennis under the lights on Tuesday was the Prince exhibition on Stadium court featuring John Isner and Xavier Malisse. Isner, who visiting the Bolliettieri Academy for the first time from his training home in Saddlebrook, was testing shoes, racquets and strings during the afternoon. Malisse, who trained at the Academy as a teenager, lives nearby and is often seen watching matches during the Eddie Herr tournament.
A free meal, a beautiful mild evening, and no admission fee for the exhibition brought out a couple of thousand people, with even windows in the dormitory rooms overlooking Stadium court serving as a vantage points.
Both players started at half speed, understandable since both had not picked up a racquet in several weeks, but by the third game, Isner was hitting his monstrously big serves and Malisse was showing off his all-court game, including a clean winner off a tweener that had Isner grinning and the crowd roaring.
Malisse broke Isner and held for a 4-2 lead, but serving for the six-game pro set at 5-4, he fell behind 0-40. Malisse saved all three break points, but Isner earned another and converted it, sending the match into a deciding tiebreaker. Not unexpectedly, Isner won it, 7 points to 3, although few in the stands would have been disappointed with a tie.