Top Seed Blumberg, Second Seed Kenin Open International Spring Championships with Wins; Young Wild Cards Impress
©Colette Lewis 2015--
Great weather greeted players on the opening day of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships at the Stub Hub Center, with boys top seed William Blumberg and girls No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin claiming straight set victories, and seven wild cards posting first round wins.
Blumberg, who reached the final of the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil just over a week ago, defeated Vasil Kirkov 6-4, 6-4, after trailing 3-0 in second set.
Blumberg admitted he has had difficulty adjusting to the hard courts after the red clay of South America.
"It's actually been really tough for me," said the 17-year-old from Connecticut. "I had a really good week two weeks ago in Gerdau, a really physical kind of week, playing all the South American guys. I had a tough one, 6-4 in the third in the semis. It was physical on my body, and I haven't had a chance to recover, I only took a day and a half off, and then came here and trained with the USTA."
In addition to the physical issues, Blumberg also said the match with Kirkov was difficult because of their relationship.
"I practice with Vasil quite a bit, and he's a very tough player," said Blumberg, who is still looking for a full-time coach. "He's on the smaller side, so he can't overpower you, but he's really scrappy and fights for every single point. When he has a short ball, he's been putting it away. It's tough on me mentally, being one year older, I put more pressure on myself, so I was a little more tentative and nervous, not going for my shots."
Blumberg won four straight games to go up a break in the second set after trailing 3-0, but Kirkov got the break back to make it 4-4. A terrific lob winner by Blumberg helped him get another break and he served out the match, benefiting from a net cord winner on match point.
He will face the winner of Tuesday's match between Zeke Clark and qualifier Chase Colton in the second round.
Kenin, who reached the finals of a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament earlier this month in Gainesville, had a much easier time in her first round, beating Mimi Levine 6-0, 6-1.
The 16-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida said she has been working on her fitness and her transition game since winning the Orange Bowl in December.
"We have a hitting partner near my house, and my dad has been helping me out, working on my transition game, coming into the net and coming forward," Kenin said. "I'd like to add that to my game."
Kenin said playing on the Pro Circuit had also helped in growing her game.
"Just seeing the level, seeing how they prepare," Kenin said. "It's not even the best, the $10Ks, but seeing what they do and how I can get better at a higher level."
Kenin's next opponent is wild card Morgan Coppoc, who defeated Alexandra Sabe 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Coppoc was one of four girls wild cards to advance to the second round, including 14-year-old Rachel Lim, who defeated Sabrina Faybyshev 6-1, 6-1, and two 13-year-olds, Caty McNally and Amanada Anisimova, both of whom took out seeds.
Anisimova defeated No. 15 seed Mia Horvit 6-2, 6-4, and McNally beat No. 10 seed Alexandra Sanford 6-3, 7-5. Although Anisimova had played five ITF tournaments last year after turning 13, McNally was playing in her first today.
"I was really nervous going into the match, because she's from my district and I'm really good friends with her," McNally said. "I made her move a lot, pulled her out of the court and went to the open court. She's not the best mover, so I tried to make her move."
McNally said the win can only help her confidence.
"She's really good, and goes all over the country and all over the world to play ITFs. I'm just really happy I got this win."
McNally also will be playing the 18s at next week's Easter Bowl, receiving a wild card there as well.
Boys wild cards who advanced were McNally's brother John, last year's 16s champion, who came back to defeat Jack Van Slyke of Canada 2-6, 6-3, 7-5; JJ Wolf, who beat No. 9 seed Hady Habib 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; and Jake Van Emburgh, who defeated Agustin Moreno of Mexico 7-5, 6-0.
In addition to Habib, three other boys seeds were eliminated Monday. Gianni Ross defeated No. 15 seed Bjorn Thomson of Ireland 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and Michael Genender beat No. 8 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 6-2. Lucky loser Alex Phillips took out No. 10 seed Alexis Canter of Great Britain 7-5, 6-0.
Top girls seed Usue Arconada, who won back-to-back ITF tournaments in South America earlier this month, plays her first round match on Tuesday against qualifier Riley McQuaid.
In the 16s, the seeded players all received byes into the second round and will begin play on Tuesday.
For complete draws, and the order of play, see the tournament website.