Sponsored by IMG Academy

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daniell Reaches Easter Bowl Quarterfinals with Upset of No. 2 Seed Arconada; Four Unseeded Boys in Final Eight

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Indian Wells, California--

Although temperatures were in the upper 90s for the third round of the ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Andie Daniell said she felt fine.  After winning her first two matches in three sets, including a second round, come-from-behind victory over No. 15 seed Emma Higuchi on Wednesday, Daniell made it a bit easier on herself Thursday, taking out No. 2 seed Usue Arconada in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(5).

With the tiebreaker at 3-3, Arconada double faulted, then made two backhand errors to give Daniell three match points. The 15-year-old from College Park, Maryland saved the first with a forehand winner, and the second when Daniell's backhand went long, but when it was Daniell's turn to serve, she didn't waiver.  She hit a good first serve that Arconada couldn't get back in play, and had earned a place in her first Grade 1 quarterfinal.

Daniell said she has improved since she last played Arconada more than two years ago.

"I'm trying to hit balls bigger, and hopefully get a little more variety," said the 17-year-old from Douglasville, Georgia. "My serve's getting better; it wasn't quite right out there, but it's better than it used to be."

As for the heat, Daniell said she isn't bothered much by it.

"It's the fourth day of the tournament so you kind of get used to it," Daniell said. "My mouth's a little dried out, but it's kind of like Georgia in the summer--you're not sweating, well, you're still sweating, it just doesn't look like it."

Daniell will play No. 7 seed Michaela Gordon in the quarterfinals, after Gordon defeated wild card Jessie Aney 6-2, 6-2.

The other girls quarterfinal in the bottom half will feature unseeded Francesca Di Lorenzo, who defeated 2013 16s Easter Bowl finalist Caroline Dolehide 6-0, 6-0 against No. 11 seed Katie Swan, who beat No. 6 seed Raquel Pedraza 6-3, 7-6(6) in a match that took more than two and a half hours to complete.

That was nothing compared to the marathon that top seed Sofia Kenin and Ena Shibahara engaged in, with Kenin winning 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in three hours and forty-five minutes.

Shibahara was two points from victory at 5-4 in the second set tiebreaker, but double faulted to make it 5-5. Kenin hit a forehand that caught the baseline to earn a set point, and she won it when Shibahara's forehand went long.

As she had done in the second set, Shibahara took a 3-0 lead in the third set, but she couldn't hold on to it, and Kenin served for the match at 5-4, but she was broken without getting to match point.  Both held serve for the ultimate tiebreaker, and Kenin had control from the start, with Shibahara serving and volleying nearly every chance she got, mostly unsuccessfully, and Kenin taking a 5-2 lead.  Shibahara tried the serve and volley tactic again and  did force an error from Kenin to make it 5-3, and  hit a forehand winner for 5-4.  Kenin, never afraid to use a drop shot at a key moment, forced an error from Shibahara, who couldn't do anything with the drop shot once she got there.  At 6-4, Kenin shanked a forehand, and on the second match point, Kenin's drop shot tactic failed, with Shibahara putting the ball into the open court.

Shibahara missed a backhand volley, again following her serve to the net, and on match point number three, she made an unforced error, hitting a backhand well long.

Kenin will play No. 12 seed Jessica Ho on Thursday, and Ho also spent a long time on court, eventually overcoming unseeded Gabby Smith 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

2013 Easter Bowl 16s girls champion and No. 4 seed CiCi Bellis advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-3 win over unseeded Alexis Nelson, and will play No. 8 seed Kaitlyn McCarthy, who defeated unseeded Kayla Day 6-0, 6-1.

The final eight on the boys side features four unseeded players: William Blumberg, Aron Hiltzik, Nathan Ponwith and Michael Genender.

Genender was down 4-1 in the final set to 2013 16s Easter Bowl champion Sameer Kumar, when Kumar turned his ankle.  After having it wrapped, Kumar returned to the court, but he was obviously hobbled, and Genender won the final five games of the match in his 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

"At first I thought he was cramping, and then when he got to 4-1, he requested a medical time out for his ankle," said Genender, a 17-year-old left-hander from Los Angeles. "It was definitely bothering him."

Facing an injured opponent is always tricky and Genender admitted he didn't handle well at first.

"It tough, because you don't want to miss, because he can't really move," Genender said. "I kind of abandoned my game a little bit, started looking at what he was doing, not really focusing on myself. I think the end of the third set, was really just a battle with myself, believing in my game, what won me the second set and got me to where I was in the match."

Genender said he didn't expect these kind of results this week.

"I lost first round Claremont, first round Carson, I really wasn't feeling great about my game," Genender said. "But I put a good week of practice in after I lost on Monday in Carson, and I knew I was close, that I just needed to get a couple of matches under my belt, and if I won a couple maybe I would start rolling and playing better. I'm really happy."

Genender will play No. 13 seed Robert Levine, who defeated No. 4 seed Jordi Arconada 6-3, 6-4.

An unseeded semifinalist is assured with Blumberg facing Hiltzik on Thursday.  Blumberg beat doubles partner Reilly Opelka 6-3, 6-1 and Hiltzik eliminated 2013 16s Easter Bowl finalist Kalman Boyd 7-5, 6-4.  The other quarterfinal in the bottom half features No. 3 seed Logan Smith, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Adrian Chamdani against Ponwith, who defeated doubles partner Eduardo Nava, a wild card, 7-6(1), 6-4.

The marquee boys match on Thursday will be between No. 1 seed Francis Tiafoe and No. 7 seed Taylor Fritz. Fritz defeated his doubles partner and No. 11 seed Anudeep Kodali 6-0, 6-1, and Tiafoe eliminated unseeded Jean Thirouin 6-1, 7-6(2).  It will be a rematch of last October's final at the Grade B1 Pan American Closed, which Tiafoe won 6-3, 6-0.

For complete results, including doubles, see the TennisLink site.

The 16s began their competition, with half of each draw playing at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.  Top seed Katerina Stewart won her first two matches without losing a game, beating Paulina Ferrari and Morgan Cooley.

"I'm just trying to develop my game a little more, gain some confidence," said Stewart. "I played 18s the past two years and I was too young. Now I'm 16, playing 16s, and it's my last 16 tournament. It's important for me to win the Easter Bowl, especially since I got to the final of the 14s. I'm trying to get one."

Boys 16s top seed Evan Zhu was beaten by Robert Loeb in the first round 6-4, 6-4.  Loeb had lost to Zhu at the USTA Team Championships in Mobile in straight sets, so he was prepared for a tough match.

"I knew from that match he would fight for every point," said Loeb, 16. "So I had to come out prepared and ready, and it worked."

Asked if he liked the two-a-day match schedule, Loeb wasn't enthusiastic about it.

"I wish it was a couple of days longer, one match a day," Loeb said. "It's like 110 degrees outside. You've got to do it, so it's fine."

Loeb had a difficult second round match Thursday afternoon, but he advanced to the third round with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Conrad Russell.

The results from the 12s, 14s and 16s can be found at this TennisLink site.