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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fritz Keeps Winning Streak Going, Sebov Saves Match Points in Second Round of ITF B1 Pan American Closed

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Tulsa, OK--

Taylor Fritz won the ITF Grade 4 title in Wichita Falls last week, and the 15-year-old Southern Californian ran his winning streak to eight matches Tuesday, defeating No. 5 seed Jordi Arconada 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed.

Despite the lopsided score in the first set, Fritz refused to find fault with his level of play.

"I thought I played fine in the first set," said Fritz, a sophomore who will be 16 later this month. "I thought I was a little too conservative and I was playing into his game. He's really steady and moves the ball. I won the first game, and after that I would say I lost the set in about 10 minutes, and I was playing fine."

"In the second set, I came out and tried to be a lot more aggressive, because that's my game, hit the ball harder."

In the third set Fritz broke Arconada serving at 3-3, then consolidated the break. With Arconada, who plays under the Argentina flag, but lives and trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., serving to stay in the match, he saved two match points to hold, forcing Fritz to serve out the match. Three errors later, Fritz was down 0-40, but when Arconada missed a second serve return into the net on the first break point, Fritz gained confidence.

"I got lucky, he just missed a second serve return he shouldn't have missed into the net," Fritz said. "And that's when I told myself I can do this, just two more points. I aced him on the next point and then told myself I could rally this one out and beat him. I came up with a forehand inside in, I believe, to get it back to deuce."

Two points later Fritz had secured the victory, and will play unseeded Vincent Lin in the third round on Wednesday.

Asked if his title in Wichita Falls had helped his confidence, Fritz said it was actually qualifying this year at the US Open Junior Championships, only his second ITF tournament, that raised his expectations.

"I had never gotten the chance to play the best in the world," said Fritz, the 2012 USTA 14s National champion. "Honestly I was hoping that in the qualies that I would get like one easy draw and play out of my mind and qualify. But I realized I could play with those guys, 100 in the world, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I didn't have to overplay, just play them with my game, and have good matches with them."

In other second round action Tuesday, No. 3 seed Francis Tiafoe found himself down a set to fellow Junior Tennis Champions Center student Evan Zhu, but came back to post a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win. Top seed Michael Mmoh downed Mwendwa Mbithi 6-4, 6-2 and No. 2 seed Spencer Papa overpowered Agustin Moreno of Mexico 6-1, 6-1.

Three seeds lost in the first round and six more fell today.  Local favorite Zeke Clark defeated No. 15 seed Yannik James of Grenada 6-4, 7-6(6). Wichita Falls finalist Kalman Boyd beat No. 9 seed Tommy Paul 7-5, 7-6(7), and qualifier Aron Hiltzik downed No. 8 seed Gerardo Lopez Villasenor of Mexico 6-3, 6-4.  Logan Smith beat No. 12 seed Peter Bertran of the Dominican Republic 7-5, 6-4 and Eduardo Nava defeated No. 16 seed Nathan Ponwith 6-1, 6-4.

In the girls second round, top seed Tornado Alicia Black breezed past wild card Vanessa Wong of Canada 6-1, 6-0, but No. 3 seed Michaela Gordon was ousted by fellow 14-year-old Charlotte Robillard-Millett of Canada, a qualifier, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.   Jessica Ho beat No. 11 seed Mira Ruder-Hook 6-4, 7-6(6), and Yolimar Ogando of Puerto Rico defeated No. 8 seed Madison Bourguignon 6-3, 6-2.

Another 14-year-old Canadian picked up a dramatic win, with Katherine Sebov saving two match points in her 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) victory over Chloe Ouellet-Pizer.

With Ouellet-Pizer serving for the match at 6-5 in the third, Sebov's unforced errors gave Ouellet-Pizer a 40-15 lead. Sebov cracked a return winner to save the first, and Ouellet-Pizer double faulted on the second, with Sebov going on to break to earn a tiebreaker.

"When she had match points, I just thought, screw it, I'm just going to go for it and whatever happens, happens," said Sebov, who beat No. 6 seed Rianna Valdes in Monday's first round. "That's pretty much what pros do. I hit a very good winner and she got intimidated and hit a double fault, so then I had a chance. I kept going, kept playing my game--hitting the ball hard, moving the opponent around--and I think that's how I won."

After one particularly important winner, Sebov shouted "fearless", encouraging herself to continue her aggressive play against Ouellet-Pizer's often frustrating counterpunching.

"I knew that she played like that, because I've seen her at other tournaments," Sebov said. "It's very hard to play players like that, because they give you no pace and you have to generate all of it yourself. I had a bit of trouble with that, especially in the first set, but I was getting used to her pace and trying to generate my own. But the times when I was losing, I was being a little too defensive and playing her game, and that's something you cannot do. You have to go for your game and stick with it. You're going to lose either way, so it's better to play the way you want to play."

Jessica Golovin, who upset No. 2 seed Dasha Ivanova Monday evening, continued her impressive play, defeating wild card Gabby Andrews 7-5, 6-2. She will play No. 15 seed Kaitlyn McCarthy, who downed Raquel Pedraza 7-5, 6-2.

The first round of doubles produced one major upset, with girls top seeds Usue Arconada and Bourguignon falling to Sophie Chang and Andie Daniell 7-5, 6-2.

For complete results and Wednesday's order of play, see the USTA ITF tournament page.