Thursday, March 14, 2013

Both Top Seeds Advance to Spring 18s Nationals Semifinals in Contrasting Fashion; McCarthy Defeats Davidson, Survives Bird's Accident


©Colette Lewis 2013--
Mobile, AL--

Fifteen-year-old Kaitlyn McCarthy has already been in many situations on a tennis court, but in her 6-2, 7-6(6) quarterfinal win over No. 4 seed Taylor Davidson, she encountered a new one, one she would prefer never to experience again.

A pelican flew over the court and relieved itself, splattering the court and McCarthy, who had to change her shirt before she could continue.

"It got all over my T-shirt, so I had to take it off," said McCarthy. "It smelled terrible, and it also got on my arms. So I had to tell the ref, and she had to wipe up the court, because it was a pretty big bird."

After a few minutes of cleanup, play resumed, and the No. 15 seed McCarthy returned to the task of completing her win over her doubles partner.

Davidson didn't play at the level she had earlier in the week, but once she fell behind 6-2, 5-2, she was able to relocate that form.

"In the middle of the second set she definitely bumped up her game," said McCarthy, who trains with Jake Lester at the Cary Tennis Park in North Carolina. "I had a little bit of an adjustment period to that, but I've got to give her credit, she did play well."

McCarthy served for the match three times--at 5-2, 5-4 and 6-5--but was unable to put Davidson away.  In the tiebreaker, McCarthy had two match points at 6-4 and 6-5, but Davidson won both in long rallies. McCarthy said she wasn't particularly concerned or nervous, concentrating instead on staying in the moment, and she won the next two points to avoid a third set.

Unlike her match Thursday against friend and occasional training partner Davidson, McCarthy is unfamiliar with semifinal opponent Rachel Pierson, the No. 2 seed.

"I have never played her, nor do I even know what she looks like," said McCarthy.

Pierson hasn't spent much time on the court this week, winning all five of her matches in straight sets. Against No. 14 seed Kristin Wiley, who struggled in the cold and breezy conditions, that trend continued, with Pierson quickly advancing 6-1, 6-2.

Top seed Brooke Austin had her second straight nail-biter, but she survived against Keisha Clousing 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.  Although Austin didn't face a match point, she was two points from defeat at 5-6 30-all and deuce in the second set. She held to force a tiebreaker, and then hammered three forehand winners in the first four points of tiebreaker to take control of it.

Up 4-1 in the third set, Austin had three looks at break points for 5-1, but Clousing held and broke Austin in the next game. Clousing, like Austin a 17-year-old from the Midwest section, made Austin earn every point, matching her power and tracking down many of Austin's certain winners.  But serving for 4-4, Clousing committed a costly double fault to give Austin two break points, and Austin ripped a backhand winner on the first one, giving herself the opportunity to serve for the match.  Again, it was not easy, but at 40-30, Clousing's forehand went long and defending champion Austin had won her 12th straight match in Mobile.

She will play No. 13 seed Chloe Ouellet-Pizer in the semifinals, after Ouellet-Pizer, the 16s Orange Bowl finalist, outlasted unseeded Caroline Lampl 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Boys top seed David Hsu had a few difficult early round matches, but he is in top form now. For the third straight match Hsu blanked an opponent in a set, taking a 6-0, 6-2 decision from No. 11 seed Thomas Mayronne.

Hsu will play No. 3 seed Elliott Orkin, who also won convincingly in Thursday's quarterfinals, defeating Strong Kirchheimer, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 6-2.  Orkin defeated Hsu 6-2, 6-2 the last time they played, in the third round of Kalamazoo last year.



Wild card Sasha Gozun dropped his first set of the tournament, but came back to defeat unseeded Alex Fennell 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2. He will play No. 6 seed Roy Lederman, also a wild card recipient, who needed a comeback of his own to take out No. 17 seed Aron Hiltzik 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Lederman has been struggling with a wrist injury since the Orange Bowl, but because he is short on match play, he also felt the strain of five matches in five days in his legs Thursday.

"I haven't been practicing that much, so I'm a little out of shape," said the Stanford recruit. "I needed to play a tournament--I played a Futures, but lost in the first round of qualies, so that doesn't even count.   The wrist gets sore in the afternoon; in the morning the adrenaline takes it away. It's a little sore, but I can deal with it."

Down a set and a break in the second, Lederman said he got a little lucky.

"He missed a few shots and once it got even at 4-all, I brought up the intensity," Lederman said. "From then on, I started playing much better. I started moving, used my forehand and hit a bunch of winners."

Lederman took a 4-1 lead in the third set, and down two breaks, Hiltzik decided to throw caution to the 15-mph winds.

"He started playing like he had nothing to lose, going for all his shots, forehands, backhands, everything," said Lederman, from Golden Beach, Florida. "He was ripping the ball, and I was just trying to stay with him. He broke me and held for 4-3, and I was down 15-30. He had a sitter to go 15-40 and missed it, then missed a couple of shots. He was just going for broke and missing, and I got lucky again. I finished it off in the next game, but it was nerve-racking. It wasn't very easy."

Despite both being Floridians, Gozun and Lederman have never played.

Both Lederman and McCarthy will play for doubles titles after their singles semifinal matches on Friday.

Lederman and Ryan Smith, the No. 7 seeds, defeated unseeded Will Adkisson and Ian Dempster 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 in Thursday afternoon's semifinal. Lederman and Smith will face unseeded Collin Altamirano and Mitch Stewart, who downed Walker Duncan and Will Showers, also unseeded, 7-5, 6-2.

McCarthy and Davidson, the No. 3 seeds, will play Sophie Chang and Lampl, a No. 9 seed, in the girls doubles final. McCarthy and Davidson defeated No. 9 seeds Brooke Broda and Spencer Liang 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Chang and Lampl took out No. 9 seeds Lindsey Hodge and Allison Miller 6-1, 6-1.

The sportsmanship award recipients were named on Thursday, with Brittany Lindl of Panama City, Florida and Chase Perez Blanco of Miami, Florida receiving the honors.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

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