Patriots and Eagles Reach Boys Final, Firecrackers and Angels to Decide Girls Title at USTA Spring Team Championships; Novikov Qualifies for BNP Paribas Open
©Colette Lewis 2015--
The semifinal round of the USTA Spring Championships was completed as scheduled on Wednesday, even though fog and wet courts delayed the completed on round two until well after noon.
One girls quarterfinal and two boys quarterfinals had to finish before the semifinals could start, and there was a brief 45-minute rain delay mid-afternoon, but after that the weather cooperated, allowing the semifinals to begin.
|Will Grant celebrates clinching with his Patriot teammates|
The Eagles were one of the teams that needed to complete their quarterfinal match Wednesday, after Tuesday night's action left them tied at 4. The Eagles doubles team of Jacob Hansen, No. 1 in the 18s, and Zummy Bauer, No. 2 in the 16s, ran out to an 8-0 lead against the Jaguars' Blaine Boyden and Eric Wagner, the No. 1 and No. 2 18s players, before taking the match tiebreaker 10-6.
With their match not finishing until after the rain delay, the Eagles went much later in the evening than the Patriots, eventually closing out the Panthers 7-5, when Anuj Watane beat Roger Chou 6-0, 6-4 at the No. 1 14s position at 7:45 p.m.
The girls final will feature two gold ball winners from last year's inaugural event, this year on opposing teams. Jessie Aney of the Angels and Savannah Slaysman of the Firecrackers will play at the No. 1 singles position this year, after winning the title last year with the Tornados. The Angels defeated the Devils 8-4, with Victoria Hu taking the seventh point at the 14s No. 1 position. The Firecrackers got past the Diamondbacks 7-5, with Isabelle Lorenzini clinching at the No. 1 16s position with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Abigail Chiu.
The pressure was on Lorenzini after Slaysman had dropped her match with Maddie Pothoff at the 18s No. 1 position 10-7 in the tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. But Lorenzini showed some outstanding offense and no nerves to close it out for her team.
The semifinal win, although close, was a far cry from their quarterfinal win on Tuesday against the Stingrays, when all four of Firecracker No. 1s lost to go down 4-0 in the first singles series. With only singles deciding the second round matches, that meant the Firecrackers had to win at all the No. 2 positions, and they did, forcing a doubles match tiebreaker to decide who would advance to the semifinals. Down 6-1 in that tiebreaker, Slaysman and Taylor Russo, the No. 1 and No. 2 18s players, won the last nine points to win their "miracle match."
"Before the matches yesterday, in the rain delay, we were talking about different things," said Firecracker coach Debra Lloyd. "I asked them if they'd ever seen a miracle match, what they'd seen or heard about. We all know about Michael Chang and Ivan Lendl, and a couple of them had miracle match stories. Now they all have a miracle match story. They're all excited, pumped up, happy to be here."
Rain played a role in getting Lloyd to Mobile to coach in this year's Spring Team Championships.
"I was talking to one of the refs at Winter Nationals during a rain delay, go figure," said Lloyd, who is at the Chandler (Arizona) Tennis Academy. "We were talking about it, and I hadn't heard of it, because I was moving last year and didn't know about it. I think it's a fantastic format, it's amazing. I'm very happy to be here."
The forecast calls for a better than 50 percent chance of rain on Thursday, but the plan is to begin the matches with doubles at 8 a.m. The bronze ball matches, featuring the Panthers and Bears and the Diamondbacks and Devils, are also scheduled for 8 a.m., as are the other compass draw matches.
Individual results will eventually be available on the TennisLink site, probably by late Thursday.
US men went 1-5 in the final round of qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with only 2012 Kalamazoo 18s champion Dennis Novikov reaching the main draw. Novikov, the former UCLA Bruin, defeated No. 5 seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) to advance to his first Masters 1000 main draw. Bjorn Fratangelo held three match points, but fell to No. 1 qualifying seed Borna Coric of Croatia 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(7). Rajeev Ram, Michael Russell, Mackenzie McDonald, Taylor Fritz and Yannick Hanfmann also fell one match short in their attempts to qualify.
In women's main draw action, wild cards Grace Min, Nicole Gibbs and Louisa Chirico lost, while Alison Riske and wild cards Irina Falconi and Sachia Vickery won, with Sloane Stephens still on court this evening.