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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Branstine Continues Run at ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships; Cayetano Takes Out Top Seed in 16s Division

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Carson, CA--

Carson Branstine has had an eventful month. At the end of February she qualified for the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Rancho Santa Fe, beating Carol Zhao, Alexandra Sanford and Ena Shibihara to advance to the main draw, where the 15-year-old from Orange, California lost to Asia Muhammad.  

She then traveled to New York's Madison Square Garden for a World Tennis Day exhibition against Hurricane Tyra Black, as an opening act for the Gael Monfils and Stan Wawrinka match.

"It was one of the best experiences of my life by far," Branstine said. "I got to play in front of eight, ten thousand people, which is something you don't get to do very often. I wasn't really that nervous, to be honest. I thought these people are here to watch me, so I have to relax and play my game. I just kind of blocked it out as much as I could, just pretended like I was on my home courts practicing."

After that experience, Branstine returned home, and playing on her home courts, took the title at the ITF Grade 4 in Newport Beach last week, the second ITF singles title of her junior career. 

All that helped her in today's opening round match against friend and doubles partner Taylor Johnson, with Branstine earning a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 win over the No. 8 seed.

After taking the first set with excellent serving and deep ground strokes, Branstine had an opportunity to close it out in the second set, serving for the match twice: once at 5-4 and once at 6-5. Branstine actually earned her first match point with Johnson serving at 3-5, but Johnson put away an overhead and went on to hold.  Branstine reached match point in the 5-4 game, but missed a forehand putaway long, prompting her to exclaim "you just missed the easiest shot ever from on top of the net."  

Branstine broke to take a 6-5 lead, but didn't reach match point in that attempt to serve it out.  At 6-5 in the tiebreaker, Branstine had a third match point, but she couldn't blame herself for the loss of that point, with Johnson hitting a cross court short angle backhand on the line to save it, then converting on her second set point when Branstine netted a backhand.

"I got a little bit relaxed and that kind of hurt me," Branstine said of her thoughts on failing to convert those match points. "She's one of the best fighters out there, and she kept going and going, and I knew she wasn't going to stop, but I figured it out."

But although frustrated, Branstine didn't doubt she could win another three-setter when Johnson forced her into that situation.

"I went three sets in four of the six matches (in Newport Beach last week) and, I thought, of geez, another third set," said Branstine. "But I was confident going into the third for sure, that I'd played a lot of these, and I was ready for it."

Branstine dropped serve in the opening game of the third set, but that was the first of four consecutive service breaks. She held for 3-2 and broke for 4-2 and made that break stand up, although she did have to dig out from a 0-30 hole in the final game.  A good first serve finally ended the two hour and 30 minute match and the two girls shared an embrace at the net.

"I've been playing great so far this year, I've been working really hard," said Branstine, who trains with Sean Abdali at the Grand Slam Tennis program in The Tennis Club of Newport Beach. "I'm playing really well, so I'm happy."

Johnson was one of only three seeds to fall in the first round of play, with No. 15 seed Victoria Emma losing to Ann Li 6-1, 6-3 today and Kelly Chen, the No. 11 seed, falling to Raquel Pedraza 6-4, 6-3 on Monday.

No. 2 seed Kayla Day, playing her first junior match of the year, took out qualifier Sydney Van Alphen 6-1, 6-1.

The boys draw lost only two seeds, with Andres Andrade, the No. 15 seed,  losing to Brian Cernoch 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 on Monday and Carlos Divar of Spain, the No. 13 seed, falling to wild card Connor Hance 6-3, 7-6(6) today.

The day's big upset came in the girls 16s, with Eryn Cayetano bouncing top seed Kacie Harvey 6-4, 6-1.  Cayetano, who will be 15 next month, trains at RAMP Academy, which is located at the Stubhub Center, the site of the tournament and the USTA Player Development West Training Center.

Cayetano's first ITF-affiliated tournament win came on Monday, when she recovered from losing the first set at love to beat Zlata Bobyr 0-6, 6-2, 6-2.

"I was really nervous at first, because it's my first ITF," said Cayetano, who lost in the first round of qualifying at the Newport Beach ITF last week. "But I was thinking in my head, I didn't come here to lose, I came here to play. So I just kept on motivating myself, and tried not to show emotion, so my opponent won't know I'm mad or something."

Cayetano said she didn't know until after her win today that Harvey was the tournament's No. 1 seed.

"I never really look at the draw, so I won't psych myself out," said Cayetano. "I didn't know her, but I've seen her around. She's a really good player."

No. 8 seed Julianne Bou also lost in her first match of the tournament, falling to Amy Huang 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. 

In the boys 16s, top seed Govind Nanda moved into round three with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jacob Bullard.

Doubles began for the 18s, with top seeds Day and Sanford in the girls draw, and No. 1 seeds William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith in the boys draw, both getting through with uncomplicated straight-set victories.

Draws and Wednesday's order of play is available at the tournament webpage.

Complete first round results from the 18s singles are below:
Boys' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Ulises Blanch (Deerfield Beach, FL)  def.  Tristan McCormick (Berwyn, PA)  4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Patrick Kypson (Greenville, NC)  def.  Nicolas Mejia (Aventura, FL)  7-6(5, 6-2
Luke Hammond (White Plains, NY)  def.  Arnav Dhingra (Darnestown, MD)  6-3, 6-4
Joshua Peck (Armstrong, BC)  def.  Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY)  7-6(3), 6-2
Liam Caruana (Austin, TX)  def.  Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio, TX)  6-3, 6-3
Danny Thomas (Pickerington, OH)  def.  Sangeet Sridhar (Glendale, AZ)  6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Nathan Perrone (Bluffton, SC)  def.  Drew Baird (Holly Springs, NC)  6-1, 6-3
Brandon Holt (Rolling Hills, CA)  def.  Harrison Brown (Hilton Head Island, SC)  6-1, 6-1
Nathan Ponwith (Scottsdale, AZ)  def.  Jason Legall (Palm Coast, FL)  6-4, 6-1
Sean Hill (Berkeley, CA)  def.  Sebastian Mermersky (Washington, DC)  6-3, 6-4
Alafia Ayeni (San Diego, CA)  def.  Keenan Mayo (Roseville, CA)  6-3, 6-2
Brian Cernoch (North Bethesda, MD)  def.  Andres Andrade (Bradenton, FL)  6-0, 3-6, 6-3
Oliver Crawford (Spartanburg, SC)  def.  Ching Lam (White Plains, NY)  7-5, 6-2
Jenson Brooksby (Carmichael, CA)  def.  Gui Gomes (Newport Beach, CA)  2-6, 6-3, 3-0
Kyrylo Tsygura (North Potomac, MD)  def.  Jorge Nunez (Kissimmee, FL)  6-4, 6-4
Vasil Kirkov (Tampa, FL)  def.  Mac Kiger (Katonah, NY)  6-3, 6-4
Duarte Vale (White Plains, NY)  def.  Sean Sculley (Hilton Head Island, SC)  2-6, 7-5, 6-2
Jacob Brumm (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)  def.  Alexander Donski (Philadelphia, PA)  1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Maxwell Mendelsohn (Little Rock, AR)  def.  Mwendwa Mbithi (Deerfield Beach, FL)  6-4, 1-6, 7-5
Alexandre Rotsaert (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Ray Ho (White Plains, NY)  6-2, 6-2
Trent Bryde (Suwanee, GA)  def.  Morgan Dill (Coral Gables, FL)  7-6(3), 6-1
Andrew Fenty (Washington, DC)  def.  Ming Sou (White Plains, NY)  6-3, 6-1
Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano (Clearwater, FL)  def.  Austen Huang (Elk Grove, CA)  6-3, 6-2
Sam Riffice (Granite Bay, CA)  def.  Jake Van Emburgh (Belleair Beach, FL)  6-3, 6-3
Ezekiel Thomas CLARK (White Plains, NY)  def.  Brian Shi (Jericho, NY)  6-4, 6-2
Caleb Chakravarthi (Irvine, CA)  def.  Jorge Ortegon (Cedar Creek, TX)  7 6(2), 6-3, 6-4
Sam Turchetta (Pound Ridge, NY)  def.  Matthew Story (White Plains, NY)  7-5, 6-3
Sebastian Arcila (Silver Spring, MD)  def.  Matthew Gamble (Webster, NY)  6-1, 6-2
Connor Hance (Torrance, CA)  def.  Carlos Divar (White Plains, NY)  6-3, 7-6(6)
Gianni Ross (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Kevin Ma (San Ramon, CA)  6-3, 6-2
Sebastian Korda (Bradenton, FL)  def.  sergio hernandez (Doral, FL)  6-4, 6-2
William Blumberg (Greenwich, CT)  def.  Robert Loeb (Hilton Head, SC)  6-1, 6-1

Girls' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Amanda Anisimova (Hallandale Beach, FL)  def.  Paris Corley (Grants, NM)  6-4, 6-1
Jessica Livianu (Brooklyn, NY)  def.  Nidhi SURAPANENI (White Plains, NY)  6-3, 6-2
Hanna Chang (Fontana, CA)  def.  Kamilla Kokeladze (Plantation, FL)  6-2, 6-3
Ellie Douglas (McKinney, TX)  def.  Alexa Noel (Summit, NJ)  6-3, 1-6, 6-2
Jade Lewis (Hilton Head Island, SC)  def.  Mimi Levine (Santa Monica, CA)  6-1, 6-1
Camille Favero (Sacramento, CA)  def.  Nicole  Lynn Anderson (College Park, MD)  6-1, 6-3
Whitney Osuigwe (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Alana Smith (Fort Washington, MD)  6-2, 7-6(3)
Carson Branstine (Orange, CA)  def.  Taylor Johnson (Redondo Beach, CA)  6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3
Maria Mateas (Braintree, MA)  def.  Malkia Menguene (Washington, DC)  6-3, 6-4
Sara Choy (Palo Alto, CA)  def.  Alexandra Angyalosy (Boca Raton, FL)  6-4, 6-1
Margaryta Bilokin (New Canaan, CT)  def.  Naomi Cheong (Las Vegas, NV)  6-1, 6-4
Abigail Desiatnikov (Atlanta, GA)  def.  Zoe Spence (Chicago, IL)  6-0, 6-4
Raquel Pedraza (Claremont, CA)  def.  Kelly Chen (Cerritos, CA)  6-4, 6-3
Emma Higuchi (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Salma Ewing (Long Beach, CA)  6-3, 7-6(6)
Layne Sleeth (Wesley Chapel, FL)  def.  Nicole Conard (Boca Raton, FL)  6-4, 6-1
Claire Liu (Thousand Oaks, CA)  def.  Chiara Lommer (Skokie, IL)  7 5, 6 2
Morgan Coppoc (Tulsa, OK)  def.  Safiya Carrington (South Hadley, MA)  7-6(3), 7-6(2), 6-3
Dalayna Hewitt (Pepper Pike, OH)  def.  Nicole Mossmer (La Jolla, CA)  6-3, 6-4
Rosie Johanson (Abbotsford, BC)  def.  Abigail Forbes (Raleigh, NC)  6-2, 7-5
Alexandra Sanford (Westerville, OH)  def.  Ashley Lahey (Hawthorne, CA)  5-7, 6-3, 7-5
Helen Altick (Monroe, LA)  def.  Maria Kozyreva (Granite Bay, CA)  6-2, 6-4
Sofia Sewing (Doral, FL)  def.  Sabina Dadaciu (Stuart, FL)  7-5, 6-4
Meible Chi (Weston, FL)  def.  Kariann Pierre Louis (Miami, FL)  6-4, 6-2
Kylie McKenzie (Anthem, AZ)  def.  Emma Decoste (Stuart, FL)  5-7, 6-2, 6-1
Michaela Gordon (Saratoga, CA)  def.  Vanessa Wong (White Plains, NY)  6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Melissa Plambeck (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Jimena Rodriguez Benito (Miami, FL)  3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Elysia Bolton (Cold Spring Harbor, NY)  def.  Nadia Gizdova (Columbia, MD)  4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Hurricane Tyra Black (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Ryan Peus (Palos Verdes Estates, CA)  5-7, 6-1, 6-1
Ann Li (Devon, PA)  def.  Victoria Emma (Naples, FL)  6-1, 6-3
Chiraz Bechri (White Plains, NY)  def.  Jada Robinson (Reisterstown, MD)  6-2, 6-3
Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)  def.  Amanda Meyer (Delray Beach, FL)  6-2, 6-1
Kayla Day (Santa Barbara, CA)  def.  Sydney Van Alphen (Laguna Beach, CA)  6-1, 6-1