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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Black Outlasts No. 2 Seed Akkerman to Reach Easter Bowl ITF Semifinals; Peus Eliminates Top Seed Liu in Girls 14s

©Colette Lewis 2013—

Rancho Mirage, CA—

After playing two hours and forty-five minutes, No. 6 seed Tornado Black was serving for a place in the Asics Easter Bowl semifinals. She had broken No. 2 seed Marika Akkerman at 3-3 and was up 5-4, 30-0 when she was called for a time violation.

Black, a 14-year-old with an often volatile on-court temperament, didn’t let it bother her however. After a brief complaint, she resumed play, and lost the next point when her backhand went wide. At that critical stage, it was the 17-year-old from Canada who cracked. Akkerman missed a forehand badly to give Black a match point, and netted a forehand that resulted in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory for Black.

“I had to try to get over it,” said Black, who was warned for slow play in the first set. “It was really a tight point and I pulled it off.”

Black was impressed with Akkerman’s level of play early in the match, but didn’t think she would be able to sustain it.

“I was down 3-1 in the first set, and she was playing really amazing,” said Black, who is now at L’Academie de Tennis in Boynton Beach, Fla. after more than a year with the USTA in Boca Raton. “But I was thinking, how long can someone play that well, so I just tried to stay in the match.”

Looking dispirited in the late stages of the second set, Black, who had had visits from the trainer for treatment on her leg, found her energy in the third set. Many of the points were long and grueling in the 85 degree temperatures, and Black was glad she wasn’t playing doubles later in the afternoon, with her loss on Thursday giving her a chance to rest and take an ice bath.

Black’s opponent in the semifinals is No. 14 seed Louisa Chirico, who defeated unseeded Monica Robinson 6-3, 6-1 Thursday.

The rematch between Mayo Hibi and Brooke Austin, who are doubles partners this week, went in a similar fashion to their first round meeting last week at the International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif. Austin, a finalist at last year’s Easter Bowl, won three games there and two on Thursday, with Hibi, the No. 13 seed, taking a 6-0, 6-2 decision on stadium court.

Hibi will play 13-year-old wild card Michaela Gordon, who continued her impressive spring with a 6-3, 6-3 win over 15-year-old Raquel Pedraza.

The boys 18s quarterfinalists include three former Easter Bowl champions, defending ITF champion Mackenzie McDonald, the No. 2 seed, who also won the 14s title in 2009, Gage Brymer, the 2011 16s champion and Ernesto Escobedo, the 2011 14s champion.

McDonald defeated No. 15 seed Dennis Uspensky 6-3, 6-1 in Thursday’s third round and will face No. 5 seed Martin Redlicki in Friday’s quarterfinals. The unseeded Brymer, who needed more than two and a half hours to subdue No. 14 seed Henrik Wiersholm 6-2, 7-5 Thursday afternoon, plays No. 8 seed Michael Mmoh, a 7-5, 6-0 winner over No. 12 seed Justin Butsch.

Escobedo had the only three-set win of the day in the boys third round, taking out Deiton Baughman, also unseeded, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. He will play No. 3 seed Luca Corinteli, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over unseeded Stephen Watson.

Wild card Alexandru Gozun reached the quarterfinals with his 6-2, 7-6(3) win over No. 10 seed Francis Tiafoe and will play top seed Noah Rubin. Rubin downed unseeded Logan Smith 7-5, 7-5 way back on court 5 Thursday afternoon.

The semifinals are set for the 14s, with boys draw going to form, with the 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds advancing in straight sets. Top seed John McNally, the Winter Nationals 14 champion defeated Max Pham 7-5, 6-3 and will play No. 5 seed Nathan Perrone in Friday morning’s semifinal.

No. 3 seed Zeke Clark defeated No. 6 seed Jacob Brumm 6-3, 6-1 to set up a meeting with No. 2 seed Connor Hance. Hance defeated No. 8 seed Justin Lee 6-2, 6-2.

The girls 14s quarterfinals produced the day’s biggest upset, with No. 9 seed Ryan Peus taking out top seed Claire Liu 6-2, 6-3.

Peus and Liu train together at the USTA Player Development Center West in Carson, and Peus hadn’t had much success against the 12-year-old from Thousand Oaks until today.

“Last year I played her like eight times,” said Peus, 13. “We went three sets every time accept for once. I won once and she won like four times.”

Peus wears a lucky Roger Federer hat which she had autographed at the BNP Paribas Open by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and she credits it with helping her come back from dropping the first set in three of her five wins this week.

Against Liu, a finalist in the 16s at the ISC in Carson last week, Peus didn’t need the hat’s help.

“I played a lot more aggressive than I did the other days,” said Peus, a Santa Barbara resident. “I felt like I had nothing to lose today, and I just went out there and competed. I thought she was pretty tight the whole match. I thought the second set, she got a little more into the match, but I think she had a lot of pressure. It’s tough to win two tournaments or play really well in two tournaments in a row.”

Peus’s opponent in Friday morning’s semifinal is No. 11 seed Ashley Lahey, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over No. 10 seed Ellie Douglas. Lahey defeated Peus 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of a February National Open.

In the other semifinal, No. 3 seed Jaeda Daniel will meet Alexa Graham, a No. 17 seed. Daniel defeated No. 6 seed Kylie McKenzie 6-4, 6-4, while Graham was a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Janice Shin, also a No. 17 seed.

The top seeds in the 16s continued on their paths to the title, with boys No. 1 Sameer Kumar again collecting a straight set win, this time a 7-5, 6-3 decision over unseeded Spencer Richey.

Francesca Dilorenzo, the top girls 16s seed advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over unseeded Jesse Aney and will meet Les Petits As champion CiCi Bellis on Friday.

No. 3 Meredith Xepoleas, a finalist last year in the 16s division, will play unseeded Hanna Chang in the quarterfinals after both picked up three-set victories Thursday morning.

For the 14s and 16s draws, including doubles results, see this TennisLink site.

The 18s ITF draws are at this TennisLink site.