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Monday, August 3, 2015

July Aces; Top 18s Seeds Minimize Drama in Monday's Third Round at Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Kalamazoo, MI--

August and its huge junior tournaments are in full swing now, but have a look back at an eventful July in my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, sponsored by Southern California Tennis Academy.

After a thunderstorm with heavy rain and lightning passed through Kalamazoo on Sunday evening, the temperatures dropped from the low 90s to the upper 70s, but the breezy conditions that have been around throughout the first three days of the tournament persisted. The top seeds at the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships negotiated that challenge however, with just three 18s seeds and four 16s seeds falling, and none of those in the top 10.

After a scare on Sunday, 16s top seed JJ Wolf had no trouble with Jackson Allen, taking a 6-2, 6-1 decision, although No. 2 seed Jake Van Emburgh found himself down a set for the second day in a row before beating Ignacio Garcia 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.  No. 3 seed Patrick Kypson and No. 4 seed Alexandre Rotsaert collected straight set wins to reach Tuesday's fourth round.

The highest seed to fall in either division in Monday's third round was No. 14 Christian Alshon, who lost to Zummy Bauer 76(2), 6-1 in the 16s division. Phillip Quinn defeated No. 24 seed Ryan Goetz 6-1, 6-4, James Ignatowich downed No. 31 seed A.T. Pickens 7-5, 6-3 and Robert Baylon defeated No. 28 Chambers Easterling 6-2, 6-2.

One of the day's most exciting matches was played in front of a large crowd, who came to support Portage Central's Bill Duo in his match against 16s No. 26 seed Trey Hilderbrand. Duo and Hildebrand, taking center stage on the George Acker court 1, battled into a third-set tiebreaker before the match was decided in the Texan's favor 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(2).

Michael Mmoh, the No. 5 seed in the 18s, followed Duo and Hildebrand onto Court 1, against Nicholas Borchenko and the fans were treated to another three-setter, with Mmoh needing raise his game to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory.
Borchenko didn't hold back, particularly in the second set, when he broke Mmoh, assisted by two net cords in his favor, and served out the set.

USTA rules require a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, but Mmoh did not leave the court to talk to his coach Glenn Weiner.

"I didn't want to do anything I normally don't do, talk to Glenn or something," said Mmoh, who was a semifinalist last year. "I just stayed on the court, because I'm never going to do that in any other tournament, so I didn't feel the need to."

Mmoh said he was able to relax when he got an early break in the third.

"Credit to him, he played unbelievable," said Mmoh. "But I felt he got a little fortunate to get that break, so I thought if I kept on holding I would get my looks and I did, fortunately pretty early, and I thought it was a good match for me, a lot better than my first one."

"With the conditions, super fast courts, pretty windy, he was just serving and going for everything," Mmoh said. "That was his game plan, and it's tough to weather that sometimes."

Mmoh, who won a Futures tournament in Illinois two weeks ago, said that helps him, even though there's an obvious difference between pro and junior events.

"It actually helps a lot," Mmoh said. "Matches like these, I may be a little bit more nervous, more anxious if I wasn't playing well coming into the tournament. So I think it helps confidence-wise a lot. The courts were really slow there, but I was playing really well there, definitely."

Mmoh's friend and doubles partner, top seed Frances Tiafoe, who won his match against Lubomir Cuba 6-3, 6-3, also mentioned the tricky conditions at Stowe Stadium.

"The conditions were pretty tough, it's pretty windy right now," said Tiafoe. "And the early rounds are not easy, especially when you don't know the guys you are playing and they are obviously going to play their best against you. You just have to be up, ready for anything, just look at Mmoh's match. The guy is bombing serves and ripping forehands. You can't take anyone for granted out here."

Tiafoe is training at the USTA's Boca Raton National Center now, but is on his own this week.

"Nico(Todero) and Jose(Higueras) are my two coaches," Tiafoe said. "Nico's not here but Jose will be here watching over all the Americans. I'm pretty much here alone this week, no real coach. I have Vesa (Ponkka) from College Park, but he's pretty much with the College Park kids. I just want him to watch my matches, get a little insight after my matches. But I'm setting up my practices. I know what I need to get ready, I don't really think a coach is really needed here. The work is already supposed to be done before you get out here, and there's only so much a coach can tell you during match play and I think I know what I need to do."

No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz, showing no ill effects from the knee injury that hampered him in his second round match on Saturday, closed out the day with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Asher Hirsch, while Stefan Kozlov, the No. 3 seed, overcame a slow start to defeat Charles Tan 6-3, 6-3.

The three seeded 18s players to fall were No. 17 Nick Stachowiak, No. 18 Spencer Furman and No. 31 seed Jacob Brumm.  Ben Vandixhorn defeated Stachowiak 6-4, 6-1, Vincent Rettke beat Brumm 6-2, 6-1 and Alexander Lebedev took out Furman 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

No-shows are not unusual in the consolation tournament, but are nearly unheard of in the main draw. Vincent Lin was the beneficiary of that rare occurrence today when Alafia Ayeni failed to show up for their match and was defaulted.

The third round of 16s doubles was played this afternoon at Western Michigan University and the top seeded teams of Wolf and Van Emburgh and Kypson and Trent Bryde advanced with straight-set victories.

The fourth round of doubles in both divisions will be played Tuesday afternoon at Stowe Stadium.

Results, draws and match times are available at ustaboys.com.


Brent said...

Any backstory on what happened with Ayeni? That is bizarre.

Austin said...

Ditto, was wondering how that happens. Any insight?

Colette Lewis said...

He is in the draw at the ITF Grade 3 in Mexico this week.

Brent said...

How is that even possible? It looks like he is seeded so not like he registered for either event on a flyer, hoping to get into just one - or just found out late he got a wild card or something. To choose a Grade 3 ITF over your country's national championship is bizarre enough. To choose it when you are already at the other site on the other side of the country and have won two rounds is kuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs.