Mateas Ousts Second Seed Kenin Under Lights in First Round of ITF B1 Pan American Closed; Top Seed Mmoh, No. 3 Seed Kumar Survive in Boys Draw
©Colette Lewis 2014--
Maria Mateas had a long wait for her match with No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin Monday in the opening round of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed, and she spent it listening to music and periodically warming up, but keeping her socializing to a minimum.
It was 7 p.m. and the lights were on at the University of Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center when the 15-year-old finally took the court for her first meeting with the world No. 32. Less than two hours later, Mateas had claimed the upset, defeating Kenin 6-4, 6-2 with a minimum of fuss or drama.
"I got a little tight at 4-2," said Mateas, who admitted disappointment when she first saw the draw Sunday night. "But I just believed the whole time. I really wasn't letting myself get down. I got a little bit frustrated, but I just wanted to keep myself pumped up."
Up 4-0 in the second set and serving, Mateas was broken and Kenin held. Kenin, who will be 16 next month, has a reputation for comebacks, but she made too many errors in the final two games to gather any momentum.
"I knew that she makes a lot of balls," said Mateas, whose older brother Catalin also won his first round match. "I knew I just had to be more consistent than her. I just wanted to gain experience, and it's always good to play good players."
Mateas will play Alexandra Sabe in Tuesday's second round, with Sabe finishing even later than she did, closing out the day's 12 hours of play with a 6-3, 7-6(2) win over Marie-Alexandre Leduc of Canada.
The only other girls seeds to lose in Monday's first round were No. 14 Rosie Johanson of Canada, who was beaten by Dominique Schaefer 6-1, 7-5 and No. 6 seed Olivia Hauger, who lost to qualifier Alexandra Letzt 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Top seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico defeated wild card Morgan Coppoc 6-1, 6-4.
Top seed Michael Mmoh found himself in a serious predicament against Nathan Perrone in an early morning match Monday. Perrone was up 6-4, 3-0 with two breaks of serve in the second set, playing superb tennis and keeping Mmoh defending rather than dictating.
But Perrone was broken serving at 3-0, the first of eight straight games Mmoh would win en route to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
"At 2-0, I got broken in a bad way, double faulted to get broken, and I was getting down on myself," said Mmoh, who mentioned the altitude change from the Junior Davis Cup in San Luis Potosi Mexico as a factor in his slow start. "But in that 3-0 game, he gave me three free points, and after that I really believed he wasn't going to play like he did in the first all match."
Mmoh said he is beginning to see more and more players coming up with excellent tennis against him now.
"I'm starting to see a lot more of it now that I'm the number one seed," said Mmoh, currently No. 15 in the ITF junior rankings. "They have nothing to lose. I've been in the same position as them, like the US Open when I was 14, no pressure. It's tough on the other side, and I've played a lot of those matches recently, I think."
No. 3 seed Sameer Kumar was also on the brink of elimination, with lucky loser William Genesen serving for the match three times in the third set before Kumar took a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1) decision. Despite those three opportunities, Genesen didn't get hold a match point, and Kumar played much steadier once he reached the third set tiebreaker.
"I think I started playing more aggressive when I was down 5-1," Kumar said. "That helped a lot, but at 5-all I got more tentative again, but then at 6-5, more aggressive. I was playing a little too defensive, and it wasn't working, so I allowed myself to be more aggressive."
Kumar said he is just happy to have survived.
"I think at times I played okay, and at times I didn't play too well. But I got the win, so I guess that's all that matters."
It wasn't the best of days for Tulsa tennis players. In addition to Genesen and Hauger, both from the area, qualifer Zeke Clark also went out in the first round, losing to No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz 6-0, 6-2.
Two seeded boys went out in Monday's first round, with No. 14 seed Alexander Lebedev falling to Emil Reinberg 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 and No. 16 seed Mwendwa Mbithi losing to Alfredo Perez 7-5, 6-2.
The first round of doubles begins on Tuesday. Michael Mmoh and Taylor Fritz are the top seeds in the boys draw; Renata Zarazua of Mexico and Michaela Gordon are the top seeds in the girls draw.
Tuesday's order of play is available here.
The girls singles draw can be found here.
The boys singles draw can be found here.