©Colette Lewis 2013--
A line of storms moved through the Mobile area Sunday night and Monday morning, delaying the start of the second round until mid-afternoon. Once the courts dried, most of the 60 courts available were put into service, and by 9:30 p.m., the second round of singles was complete, while the second round of doubles was still in progress under the lights.
With so many courts in use, selecting a match to follow wasn't easy. Top boys seed David Hsu was in a tough battle with Terrell Whitehurst, needing over two hours to complete a 7-5, 6-3 victory. Every rally I watched was at least 20 balls long, with both boys staying at the baseline, patient and consistent, until an error, not a winner, decided the point.
No. 2 seed Tom Fawcett lost the opening set to Hampton Drake, but in another lengthy contest watched by many college coaches, Fawcett eventually posted a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
No. 3 seed Elliott Orkin had a more routine 6-3, 6-3 victory over Austin Williams, but No. 4 seed Mitch Stewart was not as fortunate, with 16-year-old Walker Duncan earning a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory.
Stewart's counterpunching can frustrate his opponents, but in the third set he had no answers for Duncan's forehand. Duncan got an early break, then broke again for a 5-2 lead, hitting a forehand winner on the far sideline at 30-40. There was no celebration from Duncan; after he hit it and didn't hear a call from Stewart, he simply walked to the bench and sat down.
Duncan was glad to have a second break because he was unable to convert serving for the match at 5-2. He double faulted to go down 15-30, forced an error to make it 30-30, but netted a backhand to face a break point. Duncan went for a forehand and missed it long, giving Stewart hope, and after a love hold that took less than two minutes, Duncan was again serving for the match. This time he took a 40-0 lead, hitting an overhead winner, getting an error from Stewart for 30-0 and executing a perfect backhand volley to give himself three match points. He needed them all.
His backhand slice went out for 40-15, then Stewart hit a better return of a good serve that caught Duncan flat-footed, making it 40-30. Duncan went up the T with his serve on match point number three and Stewart netted the return, and this time, Duncan allowed himself a small celebration.
"I knew that Mitch wasn't going to make any errors," said Duncan, who trains with Grant Stafford at Lifetime Tennis Academy in Norcross, Ga. "I figured I had to make him play and force the points. I went after the big ones a couple of times and got pretty fortunate. He fought really hard. It's always tough playing Mitch."
Duncan admitted that he got tight after failing to serve it out at 5-2.
"Thankfully I was up 40-0, otherwise I don't know what would have happened."
Once he saw the draw, Duncan was eager to take his shot at the No. 4 seed.
"When I saw Mitch in the draw, I was really excited, because I knew it was a good opportunity," Duncan said. "But I definitely wasn't expecting to win that match, it was just to see what could happen."
In the third round of the tournament, all players should be seeded, but that is far from the case in the boys draw. Although six of the top eight are through, 13 of the 32 seeds have already been eliminated.
The numbers are slightly better in the girls draw, where 21 of the 32 seeds have reached the third round, including the top seven.
Defending champion Brooke Austin defeated Blair Martin 6-3, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Rachel Pierson eased past Caroline Brinson 6-3, 6-2. No. 3 seed Alyza Benotto and No. 4 seed Taylor Davidson also earned spots in the third round with straight-set wins.
Terri Fleming ousted No. 8 seed Brittany Lindl 7-6(7), 7-5, No. 9 seed Zoe Katz survived Emma Critser 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and No. 5 seed Olivia Sneed also put together a comeback, taking out Kyra Wojcik 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
No. 14 seed Kristin Wiley won a very close and entertaining match from Aryn Greene 7-6(5), 7-6(7). Wiley and Greene both used a wide variety of shots and both went from offense to defense and back again. Many more points were won with winners, rather than lost with errors, with the level high even as the lights and the chilly night air made conditions less than ideal.
The third round matches in the main draw begin with the boys at 11:30 a.m., with the girls following at 12:30 p.m.
Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.