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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Twenty US Girls Reach Eddie Herr ITF Second Round; Qualifiers Shine on Day Two

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Bradenton, FL--

The US girls have been the story after two days of competition at the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr, with an astounding 20 advancing to Wednesday's round of 32.

With only 16 singles matches on the schedule Tuesday, all of them featuring qualifiers, opportunities for adding to Monday's 13 winners were limited, but of the eight American girls in action on the unseasonably warm day, seven of them won, including four of the five qualifiers.

Meibel Chi started the steady stream of qualifier wins by beating Emiliano Arango of Colombia 6-0, 6-0. Fourteen-year-old Sabina Dadaciu followed with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Lara Escauriza of Paraguay, Hanna Chang defeated Yuliana Monroy of Colombia 6-4, 6-4 and Jessica Livianu downed Mirjam Bjorklund of Sweden 6-0, 6-4.

No. 12 seed Ingrid Neel defeated qualifier Nidhi Surapaneni of India, but that was the end of the US girls straight set victories. Wild card Ellie Douglas fought back to beat qualifier Violet Apisah of Australia 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 and Kelly Chen had another marathon victory in the first round of the Eddie Herr, beating qualifier Ali Collins of Great Britain 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

"Throwback to last year," said Chen, who had beaten Olesya Pervushina of Russia 7-6 in the third in a first round match that took nearly four hours. "I don't know, I just keep grinding out there."

Without knowing much about Collins' game, Chen needed some time to settle on a strategy.

"I'd heard mixed things about her," said the 16-year-old from Southern California. "But in the beginning I looked for where was her weakness, where was her strength. So I got it figured out in the first couple of games. The first set was kind of easy for me, because I was playing well, serving well."

Chen admitted to a bit of a letdown in the second set, saying that Collins was the more energetic player.  But once Chen located her serve, she was able to finish strongly.

"I served well and that was key," said Chen, who admitted to needing a bit of an adjustment period on the Har-Tru, since she forgot to sign up for the two Mexican tournaments last month. "I served really well in the third, and I was putting most of the balls away."

Chen will play Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia in the second round.

With so many US girls remaining, all-American matches make up five of the 16 second rounders, with only one match--No. 13 seed Ines Ibbou of Algeria against Oana Gavrila of Romania--not featuring an American.

Sofia Sewing versus Kylie McKenzie, Taylor Russo versus Morgan Coppoc, Douglas versus No. 11 seed Michaela Gordon, Dadaciu versus No. 15 seed Alexandra Sanford and Neel versus Claire Liu are Wednesday's all-American matches.

While four qualifiers got through their first round matches on Tuesday, five boys won their fourth matches in four days, including one American, John McNally.

McNally defeated Calin Manda of Romania 7-5, 6-4 in what he called his best match of the four.

"The guy was good," said the 17-year-old from Ohio. "I just played some smart clay court tennis, and I'm happy that I won."

McNally didn't apply for a wild card, and although that was more of an oversight than a conscious decision, he could see the advantages of having a few matches prior to the main draw.

"It's not a big deal," said McNally, who played qualifying in a Futures in Florida on green clay last month.  "Qualies isn't really a bad thing. I wasn't too pleased that I had to play qualies, but after I played my first match, I was pretty pleased, because I got some good match play in and it got me ready. You can look at it as a positive--I have three matches in and they have zero, so I'm coming out knowing about the courts and the conditions. The wild card wasn't that big of a deal."

McNally said he did receive a wild card into next week's Orange Bowl.

McNally joins four other US boys in the second round: No. 9 seed Nathan Ponwith, No. 12 seed Ulises Blanch and Zeke Clark and Vasil Kirkov, who meet in the second round Wednesday.

The four other qualifiers who advanced in the boys draw are Rudolf Molleker of Germany, Elliot Benchetrit of France, Sebastian Baez of Argentina and Michiel De Krom of the Netherlands.  Molleker defeated JJ Wolf 7-5, 2-6, 7-5; Benchetrit beat Bjorn Thomson of Ireland 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, with the emotional Frenchman hitting a ball out of IMG Academy grounds in celebration after a tense final game; Baez downed Alexis Canter of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3; and De Krom defeated Trent Bryde 6-4, 7-6(4).

The first round of doubles was completed on Tuesday, with just two seeds, one in each draw, losing.

No. 8 seeds Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada and Kylie McKenzie lost to Ali Collins of Great Britain and Victoria Emma 6-2, 4-6, 10-6. No. 4 seeds Youssef Hossam of Egypt and Alberto Lim of the Philippines were beaten by Nathan Ponwith and Gianni Ross 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

All ITF results and Wednesday's order of play can be found at eddieherr.com.

The first round in the 12s, 14s, and 16s age divisions was completed with all matches in the bottom half of the draws played on Tuesday. There were no notable upsets.  Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.