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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Qualifier Dolehide, Wild Card Stewart Join Black in US Open Girls Quarterfinals; Kozlov, Tiafoe Advance in Boys Draw; Semis Set in American Collegiate Invitational

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

Three American girls and two American boys reached the quarterfinals of the US Open Junior Championships with victories Thursday, with two of the girls reaching the last eight without the benefit of a seed.

Caroline Dolehide, who turns 16 on Friday, had never played in the junior slam prior to this one, needing a USTA wild card to get into the qualifying draw. But with her 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 6 seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, Dolehide has established herself as one of the top prospects in her age group, and she appreciates the opportunity the USTA gave her by granting her a wild card.

"Jamea(Jackson) and Kathy(Rinaldi) have been really supportive of me and my game," said Dolehide, who is coached by Tom Lockhart at her home in Hinsdale, Illinois. "I have been down to Boca a few times, and they know my game and they have faith in me."

Dolehide led 3-0 in the first set, but she lost that advantage to the 17-year-old left-hander, who served for the set at 5-4. But Dolehide broke and held, putting the pressure back on Teichmann, who simply did not serve well enough to keep Dolehide from getting an upper hand early in the point. With a break on her second set point, Dolehide had the opening set, and she took control with a 3-1 lead in the second set.

"She hit the ball slightly softer and I took advantage of that early," said Dolehide, who is 5-foot-10. "I hit a lot more forehands harder, and she had a difficult time with that, so it worked in my favor."

Dolehide said playing qualifying was an important part of her success this week.

"I had to fight through the qualies and it was a good warmup," Dolehide said. "I'm actually glad I played qualies. To get through those two matches out of the way, practice on the courts, get used to the weather, it kind of helped me."

Dolehide will play another American, 2013 finalist and No. 4 seed Tornado Alicia Black, who advanced to their meeting with a 6-2, 6-0 win over qualifier Vera Lapko of Belarus.

"I was playing pretty freely today," said the 16-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida. "I don't know the girl, so I was going out there, doing my own thing. She was making a lot of errors, so it was a little bit easier than yesterday."

Black and Dolehide have never played, with Dolehide's ITF play confined to tournaments in the United States.

"I've watched her a few times, like in the finals of Hard Courts," Dolehide said. "She looks like a good player.  I warmed up with her this morning."

The third US girl in the quarterfinals is wild card Katerina Stewart, who beat Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-4, 6-2.

"I'm playing better," said Stewart, who lost in the second round of the US Open Juniors last year. "I'm getting more relaxed out there, more comfortable out there and I'm not worrying too much about the outcome. I'm just worrying about the process out there. It's much easier to focus on how to execute my game plan, rather than, 'oh my god if I lose this point, I'm going to go down' and freaking out."

Stewart will play unseeded Greetje Minnen of Belgium in the top quarter, with No. 3 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus playing No. 9 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the other quarterfinal in the top half.

The winner of the Black-Dolehide match will play either No. 11 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia or unseeded Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic. Kalinskaya defeated unseeded Raveena Kingsley for the second time in the last three weeks, this time by a 6-4, 6-2 score.

Stefan Kozlov, seeded fourth this week, has reached at least the quarterfinals of every junior slam this year after his 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win over unseeded Seong Chan Hong of Korea.  Hong had beaten Kozlov twice in the Junior Orange Bowl finals in 2009 and 2011, but that wasn't really a motivating factor for him.

"I definitely remember those matches, but they were a couple of years ago, so I don't really think about it like I'm looking for revenge," said the 16-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida. "I think my game has improved a lot since then. I played really aggressive today and I knew I needed to. He's obviously physically gotten a lot stronger, and he's gotten a lot smarter too. He played his best today--I haven't seen him play like that in a while. I've come to expect people to play their best against me--I bring out their best. Hopefully that's a good thing."

Kozlov will play No. 5 seed Quentin Halys of France, who beat Alexander Bublik of Russia 7-5, 7-6(0).

No. 6 seed Francis Tiafoe earned his first career junior slam quarterfinal berth with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Marcelo Zormann of Brazil.  Tiafoe had three match points at 5-4 in the second set, but didn't convert any of them and had to recover from that disappointment in a hurry.

"It's a first time I've won a match like that, when I've had match points and stuff like that," said Tiafoe. "That's a big deal, especially because the guy's a good player, he battles hard and comes back quite often."

Zormann came back from 2-0 down in the third set, but was broken again at 3-all, with Tiafoe coming up with some big returns on second serves, of which there were many.

Tiafoe held at love for 5-3, and Zormann went up 40-0 in the next game, but some aggressive play by Tiafoe and back-to-back double faults and suddenly it was match point.

"I was just like make returns, make him play, let him know I'm going to stay out here," said Tiafoe of his attitude when Zormann went up 40-0. "You never know what's going to happen when you're serving it out, especially after what happened earlier in the match. So I knew I'm not tanking this game."

Tiafoe ended the match with a big forehand and a forehand volley into the open court and earned a place in the quarterfinals against top seed Andrey Rublev of Russia.

Rublev defeated No. 14 seed Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-0, with a barrage of forehands and very few unforced errors.

Rublev, who said he is finally comfortable after making the long trip from the Youth Olympic Games in China, acknowledged that he played well in the first set and even better in the second.  Fritz, who made only 41 percent of his first serves, hung with Rublev at the start, but the pace Rublev generated put him under constant pressure in any rallies.

Watching many of his contemporaries such as Alexander Zverev of Germany and Borna Coric of Croatia succeed on the ATP tour has changed Rublev's view of the gap between the pro game and juniors.

"When as a junior you watch the men's you imagine the level is so high," said Rublev, who will be 17 next month. "But juniors can beat them, so it's not that far. Everything is possible."

Rublev and Tiafoe have played only once, in the first round of the 16s Orange Bowl in 2012, which Rublev went on to win.

The day's biggest surprise was Omar Jasika's 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 3 seed Jared Donaldson.  The 17-year-old left-hander from Australia overcame eight double faults to reach his first junior slam quarterfinal, where he will play No. 7 seed Duck Hee Lee of Korea.  Lee defeated Henrik Wiersholm 6-1, 6-2.

The boys equivalent of Dolehide is Mikael Ymer of Sweden, a qualifier who will turn 16 next week.  Ymer, playing in his first junior slam main draw, defeated No. 8 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia 7-5, 0-6, 6-2. He will play unseeded Jan Choinski of Germany, who beat qualifier Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-4, 6-2.

The last Americans lost today in doubles, with CiCi Bellis, the top seed with Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, giving a walkover due to a wrist injury.  No. 5 seeds Fritz and Tim Van Rijthoven lost to unseeded Viktor Durasovic of Norway and Nicolae Frunza of Romania 7-5, 6-4.

Draws can be found at usopen.org.

The American Collegiate Invitational began today with eight current or recent college players competing for an opportunity at a US Open main draw wild card.

Steve Pratt is covering the event for the USTA, and his account of the first day is here.  Additional coverage is available at usopen.org.


Peter Kobelt (Ohio State, New Albany, Ohio) def. Gregory Andrews (Notre Dame, Richland, Mich.), 7-6 (3), 6-4

Marcos Giron (UCLA, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) [1] def. Raymond Sarmiento (USC, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), 7-6 (8), 6-3

Clay Thompson (UCLA, Venice Beach, Calif.) [2] def. Jared Hiltzik (Illinois, Wilmette, Ill.), 6-3, 6-4

Alexander Sarkissian (Pepperdine, Glendale, Calif.) def. Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA, Piedmont, Calif.), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3


Danielle Collins (Virginia, St. Petersburg, Fla.) def. Olivia Janowicz (Florida, Palm Bay, Fla.), 6-2, 6-4

Jamie Loeb (North Carolina, Ossining, N.Y.) [1] def. Jennifer Brady (UCLA, Boca Raton, Fla.), 6-3, 6-4

Kristie Ahn (Stanford, Upper Saddle River, N.J.) def. Hayley Carter (North Carolina, Hilton Head, S.C.) [2], 6-4, 6-1

Julia Elbaba (Virginia, Oyster Bay, N.Y.) def. Alexandra Cercone (Florida, Seminole, Fla.), 6-3, 6-4


Starting at 11 a.m. ET; Court 6

Julia Elbaba vs. Kristie Ahn

Followed by

Jamie Loeb (USA) [1] vs. Danielle Collins

Followed by

Peter Kobelt vs. Clay Thompson [2]

Followed by

Marcos Giron [1] vs. Alex Sarkissian