©Colette Lewis 2014--
A rain delay to start the day, another of more than two hours, then a third brief interruption made for a second straight long day at Stowe Stadium, but when the final match was completed, the top eight seeds in the 18s division had reached Wednesday's round of 16.
Top seed Jared Donaldson defeated No. 17 seed Walker Duncan 6-0, 6-2, with the highlight of Donaldson's performance a string of seven consecutive aces in the fifth game of the first set--four in a row--and the first game of the second set--three in a row.
No. 2 seed Ernesto Escobedo was similarly dominant, defeating No. 30 seed Josh Silverstein 6-2, 6-2, but the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds had much bigger challenges.
Wimbledon boys champion Noah Rubin, playing on a back court, needed three sets to get by JT Nishimura 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Cal recruit Nishimura, whose unconventional two-handed forehands and backhands generate tremendous pace, was able to put Rubin on defense often in the second set, but once Rubin held in a long first game to open the third set, he couldn't sustain his previous level. Rubin will play unseeded Mitch Stewart, one of only two unseeded players in the round of 16. Stewart defeated No. 27 seed Dan Stefan 6-2, 6-2.
Wimbledon boys finalist and No. 4 seed Stefan Kozlov also had a close call beating No. 20 seed Aron Hiltzik 7-6(3), 7-6(5). Letting a 4-1, two-break lead in the first set slip away, Kozlov had to break Hiltzik serving for the set at 5-4 in the second, then saw a 6-1 lead in the subsequent tiebreaker slip away. Kozlov was complimentary about Hiltzik's game, but the depth of his disappointment in his own performance was evident an hour later, when he and his father Andrei were back out on an empty Stowe court working on all aspects of his game.
"Today I played nowhere near as good as I did the first two rounds," said the 16-year-old from Florida. "I was having trouble putting points together. Full credit to him, he played well, but I don't think I played my best. I wasn't happy with my focus in general. I was too up and down throughout the whole match. It's really frustrating, but I'll get over it."
Kozlov will play No. 24 seed Trevor Johnson in Wednesday's fourth round, after Johnson eliminated No. 10 seed Alex Rybakov 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2. Johnson, a TCU recruit, reached the quarterfinals at Kalamazoo last year, losing to eventual champion Collin Altamirano. Donaldson's opponent in the fourth round is No. 11 seed Logan Smith, who defeated unseeded Reese Stalder 6-1, 6-3. Altamirano, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over No. 26 seed Vincent Lin, will play No. 31 seed Yancy Dennis Wednesday.
Wimbledon semifinalist Taylor Fritz, the No. 8 seed, was happy to get away from Court 5, where he had played his two previous singles matches and his doubles match this year.
"Today I was a lot more into the match than the other days," said the 16-year-old Californian, who defeated No. 28 seed Dennis Wang 6-2, 6-0. "I was a lot more intense on the court. I'm sure that [playing on one of the three show courts] helped me get more into the match. Every match I've played there has been on court 5 and I'm not a fan of that court."
With his improved play today, Fritz is looking forward to his next match with No. 15 seed Dan Kerznerman, who beat unseeded Eddie Grabill 6-2, 6-0.
"I felt like I got going more, served well, hit my ground strokes well, and I feel a lot better about my game going into the next round."
In a rematch of this year's Easter Bowl final, No. 6 seed Francis Tiafoe downed No. 21 seed Nathan Ponwith 6-3, 6-4. Tiafoe was broken in the first game of the second set and Ponwith held on to that lead until he was serving at 4-3, but Tiafoe broke back and held to put the pressure back on Ponwith. Two let calls, with the chair umpire correcting herself and reversing both lets she called in the final game, including on match point, made for a bizarre ending.
"She was calling lets and reversing the call, it was driving me insane," said Tiafoe, who also received a point penalty for an audible obscenity, assessed by the tournament referee. "I don't know what to say there."
Tiafoe knew he had to be ready against Ponwith, who like Tiafoe, is 16.
"I've played him a dozen times and I know he's very capable of putting pressure on me and taking his chances to beat me," said Tiafoe, who made his ATP debut last Monday at the Citi Open in Washington DC. "So if I'm not on my A game he will beat me. He's good at capitalizing so I really have to come out full force against him."
Tiafoe will play No. 9 seed and qualifier Deiton Baughman, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over No. 18 seed Jacob Hansen today. Baughman beat Tiafoe in their last meeting, in the quarterfinals of the Eddie Herr last December.
No. 7 seed Michael Mmoh was down a break in the second set to unseeded Austin Rapp, but came back to post a 6-0, 6-4 victory and set up a meeting with No. 19 seed Reilly Opelka. Opelka defeated unseeded Logan Staggs 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in one of the day's last matches.
The last match of the day saw unseeded Kalman Boyd come back to defeated unseeded Michael Genender 3-6, 7-5, 6-2. Genender served for the match at 5-4 in the second, but Boyd prevailed to set up a meeting with his second consecutive fellow Southern Californian in second seed Escobedo.
The 16s division had one top eight seed go out in No. 8 William Blumberg, who lost to unseeded Oliver Crawford 6-3, 6-2.
Top seed John McNally cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 18 seed Robert Loeb, and No. 3 seed Patrick Kypson and No. 4 seed Gianni Ross also posted routine third round wins.
For complete results, see the tournament website.