Alhogbani Upsets Eddie Herr Champion, Three Other US Boys Reach Junior Orange Bowl 12s Quarterfinals
©Colette Lewis 2014--
Coral Gables, FL--
Saturday was my last day of reporting on the Junior Orange Bowl boys 12s competition, which is played on the Har-Tru courts at Salvadore Park, because unlike the other divisions, they will not move to the University of Miami hard courts for the tournament's final rounds.
I picked a good day to spend there however, with two matches ending in third-set tiebreakers, including Saud Alhogbani's 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2) upset of Eddie Herr champion Jungwon Park, a No. 1 seed.
The match, which began at 10:30 a.m. and finished at 1:40 p.m., was full of momentum shifts, but Park knew he was in a battle from the start. With a size advantage over everyone in the field, Park used his power to overwhelm his previous opponents, but Alhogbani was not going to let that happen to him.
"He usually just powers on these kids since he's so tall and cover the court well," said Alhogbani, who lives in Washington DC and trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. "I thought maybe if I could match his power back, then I could mix it up, kicks, slices and he didn't really like that."
Alhogbani didn't allow Park to develop any rhythm, and often pushed Park back near the fence with moonballs. On several occasions, even with his height, Park couldn't reach those balls to return them, and he seemed uncomfortable taking balls early or out of the air to counteract Alhogbani's strategy.
Alhogbani trailed 3-1 in the final set, but won four games in a row, as Park struggled to keep the ball in the court. Alhogbani served for the match at 5-3, but Park was more aggressive in that game, and Alhogbani chipped in with a few errors.
Park held for 5-5, and began to drop shot Alhogbani effectively, although he began to look tired as both boys held for a tiebreaker.
Park took a 2-1 lead with a drop shot winner and an overhead winner that he made with a broken string. That was the last point he would win however, as his forehand went AWOL and he made six straight errors to give Alhogbani the victory.
"Clay is a little bit more of a patient game," said Alhogbani, who recently won an Asian Tennis Federation tournament in Qatar, taking the title match 7-6 in the third. "So I just thought keep on rallying deep, and find a way to win this tiebreaker."
"I was preparing for this tournament for a year, hopefully to knock out one of the 1 seeds," Alhogbani added. "I can't believe I beat the Eddie Herr champion."
Alhogbani will play another No. 1 seed in Sunday's quarterfinals, Jeffrey von der Schulenburg of Switzerland. Two No. 1 seeds will clash in the bottom half, with American Zane Khan playing Borna Devald of Croatia. Khan defeated No. 9 seed Michael Eala of the Philippines 6-1, 6-4 and Devald put an end to the run of qualifier Alexander Bernard of the US 6-1, 6-0.
American Aidan Mayo, a No. 9 seed, will play Ross Weibull of Sweden, also a No. 9 seed, after both came back from a set down to win in three. Weibull beat Spencer Brachman 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Mayo, whose brother Keenan is in the 14s quarterfinals, downed unseeded Juan Zabala Vargas 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
The fourth quarterfinal will feature No. 1 seed Nicholas Garcia of the US against No. 9 seed Daiki Yoshimura of Japan. Yoshimura won the day's second match ending in a third-set tiebreaker, hitting three straight forehand winners down 4-5 in the tiebreaker to claim a 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(5) win over unseeded Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain.
Garcia beat unseeded Korean Donglu Kim 6-3, 6-4, citing his willingness to come forward as a key to his win.
"When I moved in I gave him some trouble," said Garcia, who trains with the USTA in Boca Raton. "I was hitting my forhand well, opening up the court well."
Garcia, who reached the semifinals of the Eddie Herr, losing to Park, said he prefers the Junior Orange Bowl clay to the Eddie Herr hard courts.
"I actually like clay more, because I like sliding," said Garcia, a left-hander with a one-handed backhand. "On clay courts you have to take your time and build the points more and you can't finish the points as fast."
In each of the other three divisions, three Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals. In the girls 12s at Tropical Park, unseeded Charlotte Owensby, Whitney Osuigwe and Cori Gauff won their fourth round matches in straight sets. Unlike Park in the boys 12s, the Eddie Herr champion in the girls 12s is still alive, with Himari Sato of Japan advancing to play Owensby. The only qualifier still playing the main draw of any of the divisions is Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who beat Eddie Herr finalist Helene Pellicano of Malta on Friday and Eva Garkusha of Russia today. Her next opponent is 10-year-old Cori Gauff.
The girls 12s will stay at Tropical Park for their quarterfinal matches, moving to the University of Miami on Monday for the semifinals, but the girls 14s will shift sites Sunday to the University of Miami. One of the best matches of the day Sunday is a rematch of the Eddie Herr final, with No. 6 seed Caty McNally of the US taking on Eddie Herr 14s champion Anastasia Potapova of Russia. McNally has been cruising through the draw in the first four rounds, losing just four games, and she defeated Russian qualifier Vasilisa Belonog 6-0, 6-1 Saturday. Potapova got by No. 9 seed Elysia Bolton of the US 6-4, 6-3. Top seed Olesia Pervushina of Russia also will be tested Sunday, playing Orange Bowl 16s champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada, the No. 5 seed. Pervushina won her fourth round match over unseeded Amanda Anisimova of the US 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Taylor Johnson(4) and Anna Brylin, a No. 9 seed who defeated No. 3 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia Saturday, are the other two Americans joining McNally in the quarterfinals.
2012 Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion Yshai Oliel of Israel, the top seed in the 14s this year, has reached the quarterfinals, where he will meet No. 5 seed Brian Shi of the US. Oliel defeated William Woodall of the US 6-2, 7-6(3) and Shi, the Eddie Herr 14s finalist, downed Christian Alshon of the US 6-2, 6-2.
No. 7 seed Roscoe Bellamy will face unseeded Tao Mu of China, who beat No. 17 seed Steven Sun of the US 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. Bellamy advanced with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 8 seed Igor Gimenez of Brazil. No. 3 seed Keenan Mayo beat No. 17 seed Daniel Michalski of Poland 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-1 and will play unseeded Chen-jui Ho of Taiwan, who defeated No. 9 seed Egor Noskin of Russia 6-3, 6-3. The fourth quarterfinal features unseeded Chun-Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, who beat Andrew Fenty of the US 6-1, 6-1, against No. 2 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina.
Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site. For additional coverage, see the tournament website.