Top Seed Bellis Upset by Ruse, Boys No. 1 Chung Ousted; Dolehide, Opelka and Mmoh Reach Eddie Herr ITF Semifinals
©Colette Lewis 2014--
Down 3-0 in the final set against top seed CiCi Bellis, Gabby Ruse decided not to hold back. Three games later she had evened the match, only to face another crisis when Bellis served for the match at 6-5. But the 17-year-old Romanian again dug in, broke to force a tiebreaker, and went on to claim a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory.
"I said, OK, it's 3-0, it doesn't matter," said Ruse, who was matching Bellis' pace stroke for stroke in the final set. "Just try to play better and if you will be more aggressive, you will be there in the match. And in third set, I was more relaxed, because I said, if I'm going to lose, this is it. You will go home and you will practice more and you will be much better than today. So just hit hard."
Bellis, who hadn't lost a set in her previous three matches, went up a break to lead 4-3 in the second set, but she was immediately broken at love, with two double faults. Ruse held for 5-4, and Bellis was again broken at love for the set.
Leading 3-0 in the third after breaking Ruse twice in two long games, Bellis gave one break back only to earn two break points on Ruse's next service game. But Ruse held for 3-2, starting a run of 12 straight points that ended with a 4-3 lead. Bellis was two points from defeat in the tenth game but held and broke Ruse in the next game. She was two points from victory at 30-30, but Ruse crushed a backhand winner to earn a break point and Bellis sent a forehand long to lose the game.
The tiebreaker saw both girls serve better, with only one double fault by Ruse when she was leading 2-1. At 3-3, Ruse sent a forehand long, but that was the last point she would lose, with Ruse forcing an error to make it 4-4 and staying steady in the last three points with Bellis making three errors. When Bellis netted a forehand after a brief rally, Ruse let out a high-pitched scream, but said there was nothing special about beating the top seed.
"For me, all that matches are important," said Ruse, who was a quarterfinalist here last year, losing to eventual champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. "I try to play my game and it doesn't matter if she's the number 1 or the number 100."
Ruse will play Fanni Stollar, one of two Hungarians in the semifinals. Stollar, the No. 4 seed, defeated unseeded Katie Swan of Great Britain 7-6(5), 6-2, winning her fourth tiebreaker in the four she's played this week. Ruse and Stollar played in the second round of the French juniors this year, with Ruse claiming a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Like Ruse, wild card Caroline Dolehide also moved into the semifinals with a win in a third set tiebreaker, beating No. 9 seed Raveena Kingsley 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in another match requiring nearly three hours to complete.
Kingsley served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but played a nervy game, making four unforced errors. Serving at 5-all, Dolehide saved a break point with a forehand pass and held, and Kingsley played a strong game to forced a tiebreaker. Kingsley found the range on her forehand, hitting two winners, and a good backhand forced an error to give her a 4-3 lead, but a Dolehide ace made it 4-4. Dolehide proved steadier in the final three points, with Kingsley making three errors to give Dolehide the win.
"I think I won this match because I trained really hard since August," said Dolehide, who reached the semifinals of the US Open juniors as a qualifier in September. "So I think that's why I've been doing very well the last few months. That really helped me out here, because that was like, what, a three hour match, so I needed to stay physically and mentally fit to win this."
With the win, Dolehide receives a special exemption into next week's Orange Bowl, and a place in the semifinals against No. 7 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary, who beat No. 15 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia 6-4, 6-2. Dolehide.
"It's really amazing," said the 16-year-old Dolehide, who has not played Galfi before. "This is like the first clay court tournament that I've really done like solid."
Last year the only American Eddie Herr ITF semifinalist was Deiton Baughman, but two US boys will join Dolehide in the final four Saturday. Unseeded Reilly Opelka beat his third seed in three days, taking out No. 14 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-6(5), 6-0, after Kecmanovic served for the first set at 5-4.
Opelka was broken at 2-2 in the first set, but stayed in the set with a couple of tough holds to force the 15-year-old Kecmanovic to serve it out. Opelka earned two break points and converted the second, hitting a forehand winner to make it 5-5. He held for 6-5 in another deuce game, and Kecmanovic held at love to force the tiebreaker.
Opelka started with an ace and made two more first serves, taking a 5-2 lead when Kecmanovic made two errors. Kecmanovic, the 2013 Eddie Herr 14s champion, kept the tiebreaker close after Opelka took a 6-3 lead, but a good first serve and a forehand putaway on the return gave him the set.
Kecmanovic had a game point serving in the first game of the second set, but Opelka won the final three points for the break and began dominating with his serve.
"I wasn't really expecting to win that game," said the 6-foot-9 inch 17-year-old. "I was expecting another similar set, with a lot of holding. I kind of stayed tough, I kind of got lucky, I hit a good shot and that set the tone for the second set. He had to be kind of bummed, because he'd served for the first set and I was able to take advantage of that."
Opelka also took advantage of Kecmanovic's second serve, going big any chance he got.
"His second serve was in my strike zone," Opelka said. "It wasn't getting up high, the courts are slow, the balls are heavy, so I just had to step in. I could take a big cut at it. If I'm serving well, I can afford to take some big cuts, miss some and make some, taking chances I guess."
Opelka will play No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who upset top seed Yunseong Chung of Korea 6-4, 6-3. Hurkacz is another tall right-hander with a big serve, so there won't be the contrast in styles that both encountered in Friday's quarterfinals.
"I've never played him before, but I know he's a good player, a nice guy," Opelka said. "Similar game styles, actually. Good serve, aggressive, comes forward. It'll be a tough match."
Michael Mmoh has lost a set in three of his four wins this week, with his 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory Friday over unseeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece the latest to go the distance. Tsitsipas, who like Mmoh is 16, used a huge forehand to keep the No. 2 seed on his heels in the first set, but Mmoh stepped up his aggression and cut down his errors in the final two sets to earn his 24th win in 25 matches this fall.
"He was really putting his foot on the gas pedal," Mmoh said. "It was kick serve, get ready for the forehand and dump the forehand. He wasn't really missing any time he did that. I had a lot of 30-alls in the first set and he did that and stuck with it. In the second set, I made a big adjustment, started putting a lot more on the return, hitting heavier, playing a lot more aggressive, but not missing a lot more. I thought I played really well in the last two sets, compared to the first set, where he was totally outplaying me, I thought."
Mmoh will play No. 3 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea, who also came from a set down, beating No. 6 seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. Hong and Mmoh have played three times, with Mmoh undefeated, but all have gone three sets, including their recent final at the Grade A in Mexico City.
"I was able to stay on top of him, be very aggressive," said Mmoh of his success against Hong in November on red clay. "He may not look like he can hurt you, but he can if you're kind of tentative. He has a very good forehand, so play to his backhand, he doesn't do much with it. I enjoy playing him. I think it's a good match-up for me and I'm excited for tomorrow."
The doubles finals are set for Saturday. Defending champion Naiktha Bains of Australia, this year playing with Luisa Stefani of Brazil and the No. 4 seeds, will go for her second straight Eddie Herr 18s doubles title against No. 8 seeds Jessica Ho and Sonya Kenin. Bains and Stefani defeated No. 2 seeds Anna Kalinskaya and Levashova 6-2, 7-5, while Ho and Kenin beat unseeded Kelly Chen and Emma Higuchi 6-4, 6-3.
The boys doubles final features top seeds Chung and Hong against No. 6 seeds Domagoj Biljesko of Croatia and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada. Chung and Hong defeated unseeded Bjorn Thomson of Ireland and Alfredo Perez 6-3, 6-3. Biljesko and Tabilo topped unseeded Opelka and Tommy Paul, 6-4, 6-0.
For the 18s draws and order of play, see the tournament website.
In the 16s, three of the four semifinalists in both boys and girls divisions are from the US and two of four semifinalists in the both 14s divisions are American.
The results of today's singles quarterfinals in the younger age divisions are below:
Zane Khan  def Spencer Brachman  2-6, 6-4, 6-2
David Taczala  (POL) def Ilya Tiraspolsky  (CAN) 6-2, 6-3
Nicholas Garcia  def Faris Khan  6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Jungwon Park (KOR) def Daiki Yoshimura  (JPN) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Himari Sato  (JPN) def Seoyoung Kim (KOR) 6-4, 6-2
Qinwen Zheng  (CHN) def Alina Charaeva  (RUS) 7-5, 6-3
Helene Pelicano (MLT) def Victoria Hu  7-5, 6-2
Luisa Meyer auf der Heide  (GER) def Charlotte Owensby 7-6(3) 6-1
Roscoe Bellamy  def Jaycer Calleros 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
Nicholas Mejia  (COL) def Steven Sun 6-3, 6-2
Brian Shi def Sebastian Baez  (ARG) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2
Patrick Sydow  (VEN) def Naoki Tajima (JPN) 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3
Anastasia Potpova  (RUS) def Sabina Dadaciu  (ROM) 6-3, 6-4
Maria Carle  (ARG) def Ulyana Shirakova (RUS) 6-2, 6-2
Nicole Conard  def Ekaterina Makarova  (RUS) 6-1, 6-4
Caty McNally  def Olga Danilovic  (SRB) 6-4, 6-0
Sam Riffice  def Jesus Suarez Rivas  (MEX) 6-1, 6-0
William Tutecky  (CAN) def Danny Thomas 6-3, 6-7(3) 6-4
Patrick Kypson def Vale Duarte  (POR) 1-6, 7-5, 6-4
Vasil Kirkov  def Andres Andrade (ECU) 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-4
Victoria Emma def Shweta Sangwan  (IND) 6-3, 7-5
Dominique Schaefer  def Katarina Kopcalic  (CAN) 6-4, 6-3
Sofia Munera-Sanchez  (COL) def Mimi Levine  6-4, 6-4
Sofia Sewing  def Madeline Meredith 7-5, 6-1