©Colette Lewis 2014--
Deiton Baughman is 976 in the ATP rankings, Logan Smith is 43 in the ITF world junior rankings and Reilly Opelka is 6 in the USTA 18s rankings, but all found themselves in the newly introduced qualifying tournament at Kalamazoo. All three won two matches today at Stowe Stadium to advance to Friday morning's final round of qualifying, but only two were seeing their early start as a glass half-full.
"I just look at as a positive thing, getting match play in before the main draw," said Smith, who defeated Felipe P. Osses-Konig 7-6(2), 6-0 and Nathan Griffin 6-1, 6-1. "I was a little nervous in my first round match this morning, but after the first set I was pretty confident, playing exceptionally well. So I just look at it as a positive thing."
Smith, the No. 3 seed in qualifying, applied for a wild card, but even though he didn't receive one, he understood why.
"I though the wild cards were pretty fair--half ATP, half ITF," said the 17-year-old Smith, who plays unseeded Fred Mesmer in the final round Friday. "If you want to win the tournament, you have to beat everybody."
The top-seeded Baughman, who defeated Anthony Arocho 6-1, 6-2 and Jonathan Li 6-2, 6-1, also admitted to some nerves in his final appearance in Kalamazoo.
"I came out a little tight this morning, but this afternoon I played pretty well, dialed in the entire time," said the 18-year-old from Carson, California.
Baughman said he was disappointed when he first learned he would not be granted a wild card, but didn't dwell on it.
"You'd think being top 1000, with the number of Futures I've played this year, I've done pretty well in singles and doubles," said Baughman, who plays No. 11 seed Nathan Brown in the final round of qualifying. "I thought maybe a little seniority might slide me into the main draw. But I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I get three extra matches and can get comfortable here, on the main court especially, and just take it round by round."
Opelka, the No. 2 seed, was not convinced that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks of competing in the qualifying.
"There's no plus side to being in qualies," said the 6-foot-9 Opelka, who beat Caleb Troy 6-2, 6-4 and Gianni Mancini 7-5, 6-3. "I don't mind it, but I don't see a plus side. Yeah, maybe you get used to the conditions, but by the time you play your first round you've already played three matches."
Opelka had no complaints about those who received wild cards.
"The guys they gave them to deserved it over anyone else," said the 16-year-old from Florida, who plays unseeded Jayanth Chintham in the final round Friday morning. "All of them had the same problem as me--I mean Collin Altamirano had to get a wild card. I'm sure they'll fix it for next year."
A total of seven seeds reached the final round of qualifying in the 18s, while nine seeds won both their qualifying matches Thursday in the 16s, including No. 1 seed Jackson Suh, No. 2 seed Brian Cernoch and No. 3 seed Sebastian Arcila.
For complete results from today's first two rounds, see the TennisLink site. Singles draws will be posted, as will the doubles draws, on Friday.
I mentioned in yesterday's post that Peggy Porter had been overlooked in seeding and was scheduled to play top seed Louisa Chirico in the second round at the Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego. Today, that error was rectified, with Porter given the No. 6 seed and now in the bottom half of the draw. Ellie Halbauer was dropped from the No. 16 seed to a No. 17 seed, and Olivia Sneed went from a 17 seed to unseeded.
The corrected draw, as well as the qualifying results, are at the TennisLink site.