©Colette Lewis 2013--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
The sky was a clear and brilliant blue all day Wednesday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but a Tornado was the big story as the second round of singles was completed at the US Open junior championships.
Fifteen-year-old Tornado Alicia Black defeated No. 4 seed Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 7-5, joining three other US girls who had advanced to the third round with wins on Tuesday.
Although Black said she was nervous to start the match, she ran out to a 3-0 lead over the 17-year-old from the Czech Republic, but it was Krejcikova who earned the first set point.
"At 5-4 her, she had a set point and I saved it, so I decided to fight really hard," said Black, who has been training at L'Academie de Tennis in Boynton Beach, Florida since April. "In the second set I was up 3-1 and she came back to 3-all, but I pulled it out."
Although the conditions were much less humid than the previous three days, Krejcikova looked to be suffering from fatigue, especially after the match reached the two-hour mark near the end of the second set. Serving to force a second set tiebreaker, Krejcikova made four straight unforced errors, three on the forehand side, quickly eliminating any possibility of a comeback against a much less experienced player.
Some of that fatigue may have been due to the competition last week at the ITF Grade 1 in Repentigny, Canada. Krejcikova won both the singles and doubles titles, but four of her five wins in singles required three sets.
Whether that was a factor, or it was simply a bad day for her, Black was pleased to advance to the third round of a junior slam for the first time. Although only 15, Black is the second oldest of the four US girls in the round of 16.
"I think a lot of younger girls are up and coming, and it's really good," said Black, who admits the success of the 14-year-olds has given her motivation to improve. "I've known CiCi (Bellis) and Michaela (Gordon) for a while now, and I'm really happy for them."
Black will play qualifier Jasmine Paolini of Italy in Thursday's third round, after Paolini defeated No. 13 seed Katy Dunne of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6(5).
The other three US girls in action Wednesday lost, with 13-year-old wild card Claire Liu falling to No. 3 seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 and wild card Peggy Porter going out to unseeded Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-3, 6-2. Christina Makarova served for the first set at 6-5 in her match with Maria Marfutina of Russia and had a set point in the tiebreaker, but after an hour and eight minutes, she lost the set when she missed an overhead into the net. Makarova lost the next three games and retired due to illness, 7-6(6), 3-0.
Only two US boys were on the schedule Wednesday, with Noah Rubin dropping a 6-3, 6-4 decision to No. 2 seed Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, much to the disappointment of the New Yorker's many supporters gathered around Court 7.
Gage Brymer, who earned his wild card by winning the Easter Bowl Grade B1 back in April, got off to an extremely slow start against No. 14 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia, trailing 5-2 in the first set, but he shook off his nerves to post a 7-5, 5-6 ret. inj. victory.
"I came out tight, I wasn't hitting my shots," said Brymer, who lost in the first round of the 2011 US Open junior championships, the only other time he's played a junior slam. "Once I got into the match, I started moving and focusing on the ball, instead of the environment, and I think I loosened up. It really helped me play the game I've been playing in practice and in my other matches where I'm successful."
Brymer was up 5-4 40-15 in the second set, but wasn't able to convert either of those two match points. He wasn't entirely sure whether Safiullin was injured or just disinterested in what turned out to be the final games of the match.
"The whole game at 5-4, it almost seemed like a tank," Brymer said. "I didn't know he was feeling like an injury or anything. At 40-15, I double faulted. I felt tight, not only because it was my match point, but I felt like I had to close it out, because he was out of it. I felt like I had the match won, I could see the finish line and that's always a curse, to look to far ahead, even if it's only one point."
Brymer was disappointed that he allowed Safiullin's actions to influence his own.
"I wasn't focused," said Brymer, who was serving at 5-6, 40-15 when Safiullin retired presumably with a cramp. "I was focused more on him, was he tanking, does he have an injury, what's going on, more than focusing on being clear-minded, seeing the ball and playing the game I had been playing."
Next up for Brymer is Quinzi, whom he has never played.
"I remember seeing him at Eddie Herr in the 12s," said Brymer. "He's one of those kids who stick around, and he's always been a good player. I know he's a really tough player and it's going to be a hard match."
The other US boys in action on Thursday include Brymer's UCLA teammate Mackenzie McDonald, who will play Kalamazoo champion Collin Altamirano for a place in the quarterfinals on Louis Armstrong Stadium, and Martin Redlicki, who will take on top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany on Court 11, prior to the Brymer - Quinzi match.
The other US girls in action are CiCi Bellis, who plays No. 2 seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia on Court 6, and Michaela Gordon, who faces No. 10 seed Louisa Chirico after the Bellis - Konjuh match. No. 11 seed Mayo Hibi, who plays for Japan, but lives and trains in Irvine, California, plays unseeded Katie Boulter of Great Britain.
Only one American remains in the doubles draw--Redlicki, who with Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-6(6) victory over wild cards Taylor Fritz and Anudeep Kodali, the Kalamazoo 16s champions. Hibi and her partner Ayaka Okuno, who played for the University of Georgia this spring, advanced in the girls doubles, coming from 8-4 down in the match tiebreaker to beat Veronika Kudermetova and Maria Marfutina of Russia 6-3, 6-7(4), 12-10.
For complete draws, see usopen.org.