Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Surprises Few on Hot Day at ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Tulsa, OK--

The temperature reached 91 degrees this afternoon in Tulsa, but the top seeds in the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed showed no signs of struggling with the summer-like conditions.

After a tough first round encounter with Nathan Perrone on Monday, No. 1 seed Michael Mmoh had an entirely different experience in Tuesday's second round, beating Pablo Sanchez Rivera of Mexico 6-0, 6-0 in less than an hour.  Mmoh will play No. 15 seed Walker Duncan in Wednesday's third round after Duncan's 6-0, 6-2 win over Elijah Ogilvy of Canada.

No. 4 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada was taken to three sets by Hady Habib, but survived 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a match that took nearly three hours to complete. No. 5 seed Reilly Opelka was also challenged, but defeated Vincent Lin 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4.   No. 2 seed and 2013 finalist Taylor Fritz eliminated last week's Wichita Falls champion Sam Riffice 6-3, 6-2.

The one boys seed to fall in Tuesday's second round was No. 8 seed Robert Levine, who was beaten by qualifier Alexander Phillips 6-4, 6-0.

Phillips overcame not only Levine, but the distraction of the dump trucks and steam shovel removing the rubble from a building demolished Monday less than thirty yards from the courts.

"I kind of blocked it out, kind of forgot about it," said the 16-year-old from Georgia, who trains at Lifetime Tennis in Norcross.

Phillips said all facets of his game were working, with his serve, backhand and heavy forehand giving him the advantage throughout the match.

"He liked to keep the rallies short so I was just trying to stay in the point long enough, until he missed," said the 2014 Kalamazoo Bobby Kaplan Sportsmanship Award winner.

Levine had difficulty finding his form, according to Phillips.

"I don't think he played well," Phillips said. "In the second set, he kind of just gave up, I think, because he wasn't playing too well. Usually he doesn't miss that much, but he was missing a lot."

Phillips was wary of taking anything for granted when Levine fell behind in the second set, however.

"I've been up a set and 5-2 and lost a match because [the opponent] just started going for it," said Phillips. "So that's happened to me before."

The No. 8 seed in the girls draw was also eliminated on Tuesday, with Sofia Sewing defeating Raquel Pedraza 6-1, 7-5.  Sewing, a 15-year-old from Miami, served for the match at 6-1, 5-3, and had match points with Pedraza serving at 2-5, but couldn't close it out.  She did hold comfortably for a 6-5 lead, and Pedraza went up 40-15 serving to get to the tiebreaker, but Sewing won the next four points to take the match.

"I feel like when I'm down, or under pressure, that's when I excel more," said the Miami resident, who is now training with Robert Gomez at the Metropolia Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Florida. "I just held it together, tried to concentrate, and it worked."

Sewing, last year's Eddie Herr 14s champion, had been out with an injury most of the summer, with this her first major tournament in some time after a bout of patella tendinitis.

"I signed up for [the Grade 1s] in Maryland and Canada, but I had to pull out," said Sewing, who favors her backhand when she needs a point.

"My backhand has always been my favorite, and I'm most confident with my backhand," Sewing said. "So probably my backhand down the line is my favorite shot."

Sewing will play last year's 16s Orange Bowl champion Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada, the No. 12 seed, after Robillard-Millette defeated Gabby Pollner 6-3, 6-1.

Maria Mateas, who defeated No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin late Monday night, suffered no letdown this afternoon, beating Alexandra Sabe 6-0, 6-1. She will play USTA 16s national champion Kylie McKenzie, a fellow wild card, on Wednesday.  The only qualifier remaining in the girls draw is 14-year-old Ellie Douglas, who defeated Dominique Schaefer 6-3, 7-6(4) in a battle of former Eddie Herr 12s champions.

Top seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico downed Stephanie Hazell 6-1, 6-4, but despite the score, the match was long and close, with the second set taking more than an hour to complete. Zarazua, a two-time semifinalist here in Tulsa, will play Douglas in Wednesday's third round.

The first round of doubles was completed Tuesday afternoon, with boys top seeds Mmoh and Fritz and girls top seeds Zarazua and Michaela Gordon advancing to Wednesday's third round.

Wednesday's order of play can be found here.

The boys singles draw is here.

The girls singles draw is here.