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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wiersholm Saves Three Match Points to Beat Baughman; Bains Wins Third Set Tiebreaker to Defeat 2013 16s Champion Shibahara; Makarova Returns to Junior Competition

©Colette Lewis 2014
Carson, California--

The wind continued to blow, with the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships completing day three Wednesday, but for all the frustration created by the cool and gusty conditions, dramatic tennis still managed to be played.

No. 4 seed and 2013 finalist Henrik Wiersholm saved three match points in the second set tiebreaker against Deiton Baughman, then rode that momentum to a 6-7(3), 7-6(8), 6-1 victory.

Wiersholm was on the verge of an emotional meltdown when he lost a 40-0 lead and the game serving for the second set at 5-4.

"I kinda copped out, didn't want to take it, made errors, was just mentally weak," Wiersholm said of that game. "Everyone who's been up 5-4, 40-0 would be able to tell you, you lose your mind. But I thought, do I really want to go out like that? Do I really want to give the guy the satisfaction of having broken me mentally? So I said no, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to push him and I'm going to make him play."

Baughman had his first match point serving at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, and he hit a fine first serve, but Wiersholm's return was even better and Baughman's backhand reply went wide. Another good first serve gave Baughman a second match point, but he netted a backhand to make it 7-7. Wiersholm then shanked a forehand, a not uncommon result for him in the later stages of the second set, giving Baughman match point No. 3, but it was Wiersholm who got the better of a long rally, hitting a good forehand that forced an error from Baughman.

"I played a really good point at 8-all, to put him on the defensive," said Wiersholm. "He got nervous at the end, netted a backhand. And then I came into the third saying, I'm gonna step on this guy. He's for sure mentally unstable right now having just had three match points, so I'm going to make him feel my presence, and that's exactly what I did. I never let him find his rhythm in the third."

Baughman, who has just turned pro, won only two points in the first four games, and didn't hold until Wiersholm had a 5-0 lead. Wiersholm routinely closed out the 26-minute set--a stark contrast to the 78-minute second set--to earn a third round meeting Thursday with wild card McClain Kessler, who beat No. 16 seed Anudeep Kodali 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Top seed Francis Tiafoe was tested by wild card Austin Rapp, but Tiafoe managed to escape 7-6(5), 7-6(2). Rapp had two set points at 5-3, but double faulted on the first, and Tiafoe hit a forehand winner on the second. Tiafoe led 6-1 in the first tiebreaker, but made four errors including a double fault at 6-4 to put Rapp back on serve. Tiafoe saved himself further discomfort by blasting a forehand winner on the next point to take the tiebreaker, and was up 5-2 in the second set before Rapp charged back to force a second tiebreaker. This time Tiafoe kept his early lead to post the victory, which sends him up against William Blumberg in the third round. Blumberg defeated No. 13 seed Runhao Hua of China 6-0, 6-4.

William Bushamuka of the Congo defeated No. 12 seed Ulises Blanch 6-2, 6-0 and Tommy Paul breezed past No. 10 seed Julian Zlobinsky 6-3, 6-0.

2013 girls 16 champion Ena Shibahara had her winning streak at Carson snapped by No. 6 seed Naiktha Bains of Australia, but Shibahara didn't let go of it easily, with Bains eking out a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory.

Shibahara served for the first set at 5-3 but didn't get to set point, and Bains took control, reeling off 10 straight points and four straight games. In the second set, Shibahara, who was a finalist in the girls 16s Nationals last August again served for the set at 5-3, and this time was successful.  Shibahara, a 16-year-old from nearby Rancho Palos Verdes, got a break to open the third set, fighting off Bains' attempts to get even until the sixth game, when she was broken in a four-deuce game. Despite the gusty winds and the pressure building as a third-set tiebreaker loomed, both girls were able to hold serve, with Bains avoiding double faults altogether and Shibahara hitting only two in the third set prior to the tiebreaker.

Unfortunately for Shibahara, who caught her toss often before serving, her third double fault gave Bains a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker, and Bains, with two forehand winners and a perfectly executed lob, ran out to a 6-0 lead.  Bains then lost four points in a row, including a double fault, but that was as close as Shibahara could get, with Bains rocketing a forehand return winner off a second serve to secure the win.

Bains said that despite her precarious position in the third set, she believed she would win the match.

"I'm pretty confident in my ability, pretty confident on the court," said the 16-year-old, who still lives in Australia, but trains at the IMG Bollettieri Academy in Florida and with the Adidas team in Las Vegas when she is playing in the United States. "Obviously, no one wants to think oh, I could lose this match, so I try not to. I just kept fighting in the third and got back on top."

Bains believed she eventually adjusted her game to minimize the trauma the wind inflicted on everyone Wednesday.

"The conditions were really difficult," Bains said. "The wind was swirling all over the place. I got the hang of it at the end. Well, I knew which way the wind was blowing, but in the end, I could use it to my advantage, know what was going to happen in certain circumstances, which was good."

Bains said she enjoyed the match, and although she would like to win in straight sets, a third set tiebreaker can be fun and exciting.  She also credited Shibahara's game with adding to her enjoyment.

"She pretty aggressive, likes to come forward," said Bains. "It was a good match because she was able to come forward, she'd mix it up a bit. Both of us at some stages were doing different things and there were times at the net where we had good exhanges. It was a good match; she plays well."

While Bains may have found her way to a truce with the wind, Christina Makarova was blunt about her feelings regarding the conditions, despite her 5-7, 7-3, 6-1 win over Emma Higuchi.

"It's awful, it's god-awful," said Makarova, who is playing her first junior tournament since the US Open last September. "I'm pretty sure this is hell for tennis players. It's so difficult to get the right footing and everything. You have no idea where the ball is going to land. I had no idea, half the shots I hit, whether they were going in or out. It's horrendous, never being able to hit a clean shot."

Makarova took heart when she saw Higuchi also struggling with the conditions.

"I just accepted that the wind is bad," said Makarova, who has been dealing with various injuries over the last six months, and still is wearing an ankle brace due to some problems with tendons in that area. "She shanked a couple of balls and it cleared my head that it's just as windy for her, she's also having difficulties, and it just worked out."

Makarova hasn't played a match since the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Surprise back in February, and with her home in San Diego felt this was a good tournament to reenter competition.

"This is like home," said Makarova. "We're an hour and a half away, and this is my fifth time being here. It's close by and why not? Just get matches in, try to do well."

As a semifinalist last year Makarova has had success in Carson, but she is aware of that the younger players are capable of challenging anyone.

"I feel as if on a good day, I can do well, but there's so many players, especially young ones like CiCi Bellis and Claire Liu, playing 18s instead of 16s, I feel as if they're really good. So it's definitely tough competition."

The seeded players had a good day on the girls side, with only one, No. 16 Cassandra Vazquez of Mexico, losing. Mary Haffey defeated Vazquez 6-1, 6-0, and will play Makarova in Thursday's third round.

The 16s quarterfinals are set, and neither top seed made it to the final eight.  Alexa Corcoleotes lost in the second round on Tuesday, and boys No. 1 seed Evan Zhu went out in the third round Wednesday. No. 14 seed Jacob Brumm defeated Zhu 6-4, 6-4.

The results of the 16s third round are below:

Boys' 16 Singles (Round of 16)
Brandon Holt (Rolling Hills, CA)  def. Rae Lan (San Diego, CA)  7-6(6), 6-2
Jacob Brumm(14) (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)  def. Evan Zhu (1) (Greenbelt, MD)  6-4, 6-4
Zeke Clark (2) (Tulsa, OK)  def.  Vasil Kirkov (16) (Tampa, FL)  6-0, 6-2
Alex Phillips(7) (Peachtree City, GA)  def.  Ryan Cheng (San Marino, CA)  6-4, 6-2
Sam Riffice(4) (Roseville, CA)  def.  Gianni Ross (13) (Burr Ridge, IL)  6-2, 6-3
John McNally (9) (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Svyatoslav Shainyan, (5) (Ojai, CA)  6-1, 6-2
Patrick Kypson(11) (Greenville, NC)  def.  Brian Cernoch (6) (North Bethesda, MD)  6-1, 6-2
Alexandre Rotzaert (Fresno, CA)  def.  Chase Wood (15) (Heath, TX)  7-5, 1-6, 6-3

Girls' 16 Singles (Round of 16)
Kalani Soli (13) (Carson, CA)  def.  Nami Otsuka (Norcross, GA)  6-1, 6-4
Annette Goulak(Oak Park, CA)  def.  Maria Mateas (10) (Braintree, MA)  6-3, 6-3
Kayla Day (4) (Santa Barbara, CA)  def. Taylor Bridges (15) (Mesa, AZ)  6-0, 7-5
Samantha Martinelli (12) (Denver, CO)  def.  Carson Branstine (Orange, CA)  3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Alaina Miller (16) (Saratoga, CA)  def.  Chiara Lommer (Glenview, IL)  2-6, 7-6(5), 6-1
Morgan Coppoc (Tulsa, OK)  def. Emma Decoste (9) (Stuart, FL)  6-3, 6-2
Ryan Peus (3) (Palos Verdes Estates, CA)  def. Riley McQuaid(14) (Tustin, CA)  4-5  Ret (inj)
Taylor Johnson (Redondo Beach, CA)  def.  Jessica Anzo(Temecula, CA)  7-5, 6-0

For complete draws and results, as well as a recap of the day's action, see the tournament page. Links to the live streaming can also be found there.


fan said...

Haha I saw that Christina was pretty animated while being interviewed by you. FYI Christina did play IW PQ and lost to Meredith Xepoleas 4 & 4 or something.