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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Devils Survive Two Match Tiebreakers to Reach Semis of USTA Team Championships; Fritz, Hanfmann, McDonald Win Qualifying Matches at BNP Paribas Open

©Colette Lewis 2015
Mobile, AL--

The rain kept any tennis from being played Tuesday morning as the USTA Spring Team Championships tried again to start after a virtual rainout of Monday's first round.

The decision was made to play only the four doubles matches to determine who would advance in the first round, as the weather forecast continued to call for more rain throughout the remainder of the tournament.  If doubles matches were split at 2-2, a team designated by the coach would play a match tiebreaker to determine the winner. Six of the 16 matches were decided that way, with the girls teams of the Devils and the Red Hawks setting up their quarterfinal contest that way.

The quarterfinal round was to be decided entirely by singles results, with the tiebreaker the same.  If the eight singles matches, were split, a designated doubles team would decide it, and that's where the Devils and Red Hawks ended up, for a second time, as the dark clouds rolled in.

In order to get to the doubles shootout, the No. 2 girls 14s match had to go the Devils way, and it did, but not without some tension.  The Red Hawks Shaughnessey Galvin trailed the Devils Elizabeth Isayev 6-2 in the second set tiebreaker, but Galvin saved all four match points and in fact won the final six points to force the match tiebreaker in lieu of the third set, the format chosen due to the constant threat of rain.

It was tied at 6 when Isayev started to step up the aggression on her forehand, and she hit two outright winners from that side to take an 8-7 lead.  Galvin had made almost no unforced errors in the late stages of the match, but she netted a forehand to give Isayev a 9-7 lead and two match points.  There would be no heroics this time, as she netted another forehand to give Isayev and the Devils their fourth point and send it to a tiebreaker.

"We lost a lot of match points, but at the same time we stayed really, really tough emotionally, mentally," said Brian Copice, the Devils' coach. "We started to go for our shots, and basically, my advice was if we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging, and she did exactly that, attacked shots, and as a result, brought us to the playoff."

Copice selected his two 18s players, Katharine Fahey and Hannah Templeton, while Red Hawks coach Justin Jennings went with his 18s and 16s No. 1 players, Gabrielle Schuck and Cameron Corse.  Schuck and Corse took a 5-3 lead in the match tiebreaker, but Fahey and Templeton won the next six points, with Fahey poaching aggressively on several occasions, to give themselves a 9-5 lead. Schuck and Corse saved one match point, but Fahey served it out to put her team in the semifinals.

"We went on a really good run," said Copice, who works at LifeTime Tennis in Las Vegas. "We started to step up and play a little more offense, control the baseline, which was great. Situations like yesterday, when we sat around for ten hours and then came out today, that really shows some toughness, and luckily today, we got through it."

The Devils will play the Angels, who defeated the Dolphins 6-2.  The Firecrackers are the third girls team to reach the semifinals where they await the winner of the match between the Diamondbacks and the Pirates.

The Patriots and the Panthers are the two boys semifinalists, with both still awaiting their opponents.

Weather permitting, the unfinished matches will start at 8 a.m. Wednesday, with the semifinals to follow.
Indian Wells
After a disappointing qualifying performance from the US women at the BNP Paribas Open, with the only two US women in the final round of qualifying losing today (Lauren Embree had two match points, but fell to former Junior No. 1 Daria Gavrilova, now of Australia, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5), the US men have been much more successful.

Seventeen-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz defeated No. 12 seed and ATP 109 Dudi Sela of Israel 6-3, 6-0 in under an hour and will play No. 15 seed Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands in Tuesday's final round of qualifying.

UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald, who turns 20 next month, defeated No. 7 seed and ATP 99 Farrukh Dustov of Uzbekistan 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and will play No. 23 seed Michael Berrer of Germany for a place in the main draw.  McDonald's crosstown rival Yannick Hanfmann, a senior at USC, defeated No. 10 seed Paul Henri-Mathieu of France 7-6(3), 6-3. Former Bruin Dennis Novikov (d. Aljaz Bedene[13] of Slovenia), Bjorn Fratengelo (d. Gastao Elias[16] of Portugal), Michael Russell (d. Alexander Zverev[17] of Germany) and Rajeev Ram (d. Marco Trungelliti of Italy) are the other US men to advance to the final round of qualifying.  Mitchell Krueger is still on court with Great Britain Davis Cup hero James Ward after splitting sets.