Comeback for Kalamazoo's Metzler Highlights D-III Singles Second Round; Ross, Crawford Advance to French Junior Qualifying Final Round; McNally Reaches Grade 1 Semifinals in Belgium
©Colette Lewis 2016--
When Stowe Stadium is packed for a USTA Nationals 18s final, the crowds can be big and loud and enthusiastic. But today, the legendary venue exuded a different kind of excitement, as Kalamazoo College's Branden Metzler rode the wave of support from his fellow students to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory and a place in the men's singles quarterfinals.
Metzler, a junior from Illinois, had advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Matthew Heinrich of Stevens Institute of Technology in the morning, but it wasn't until Metzler needed a boost in his second round match against Daniel Levine of Carnegie Mellon that the crowd's energy made a noticeable difference.
Metzler was down 6-3, 2-0 before winning six straight games to level the match in the unseasonable midday heat and humidity. The No. 7 seed had the momentum, with his supporters voicing their approval on every point he won, regardless of how he won it. But Metzler was immediately broken to start the third set and had to request a medical timeout.
"I was cramping in my quads, cramping the whole time," Metzler said. "It never went away, but mentally I just tried to block it out. I took some ibuprofen and some electrolyte tablets just to try to keep myself going."
Metzler immediately broke Levine, but serving at 2-2, he made a couple of costly errors and Levine held for 4-2. Metzler held at love with a strong service game, and when Levine double faulted to open his service game at 4-3, the crowd sensed an opportunity. After he won the next point, for 15-all, Levine began to cramp, and he took a medical timeout. The freshman from Illinois, who trained at the Evert Academy in Florida, saved a break point with a forehand winner and two more in the four-deuce game. But Metzler earned a fourth break point by jumping on a second serve return with a huge forehand, and this time Levine couldn't save it, double faulting for 4-4.
Metzler held for 5-4 without difficulty to put the pressure back on Levine, who seemed to view his situation--great winners greeted with silence, double faults applauded, cramping moving to his hand-- with amusement rather than the irritation most players would have shown.
Metzler started the game with a perfect offensive lob winner, and when Levin made an error for 0-30, the crowd of a couple of hundred, which did several versions of the wave during Levine's medical time out, reached a new level of noise and excitement. Levine quieted them a bit by winning the next three points, but he couldn't close out the game, with Metzler claiming the next three to send the crowd to its feet and Metzler into the arms of his coach, Kalamazoo tournament director Mark Riley.
"It's really cool having everyone out here supporting me," Metzler said, unable to recall ever playing in a similar atmosphere. "It was really nice and I think it got me through that third set. The crowd just pumped me up to keep going and going. I didn't want to let them down."
Metzler, the first singles All-American at Kalamazoo College since Julian Seelan in 2006, said his first-round loss in the 2014 NCAAs motivated him.
"My first year [at the NCAAs], I kind of let myself down, losing in the first round, so in the off season I worked really hard, pushed myself," said Metzler. "It's paid off a lot."
Metzler will face top seed Noah Farrell of Middlebury in Friday's quarterfinals.
"I've never played him but I know he's a good player," said Metzler. "I know I have to come in with my A game. I can't play my B game. I have to push myself to push him."
The other men's quarterfinals:
No. 3 seed Rafe Mosetick of Emory vs Zachary Hewlin of Whitman
Ben Rose of Bates vs No. 4 seed Skyler Butts of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Abhishek Alla of Carnegie Mellon vs No. 2 seed Sam Geier of Kenyon
The women's quarterfinals will also feature all four top seeds:
No. 1 seed Juli Raventos of Williams vs Alexandra Fields of Middlebury
No. 4 seed Bridget Harding of Emory vs Carolina Casper of Pomona-Pitzer
No. 7 seed Rebecca Ho of Washington St. Louis vs No. 3 seed Ria Gerger of Middlebury
No. 5 seed Joulia Likhanskaia of Bowdoin vs No. 2 seed Eudice Chong of Wesleyan(CT)
The first round of doubles was also played today, meaning Harding and Raventos, who were in the team final yesterday afternoon, played three regular-scoring, best-of-three matches today, and could do the same on Friday, when the quarterfinals of singles and doubles and the singles semifinals are played.
For all singles and doubles results and draws, see the Kalamazoo College tournament central page. A link to the live video (no commentary, but sound) on the front three courts is also available there.
Qualifying for the French Open Junior Championships began today, with both US boys competing, Gianni Ross and Oliver Crawford, posting victories, while the two US girls in the draw, Ellie Douglas and Natasha Subhash, lost their first round matches. Ross and Crawford will play tomorrow for a place in the main draw. Live scoring is available at the Tennis Ticker. The USTA announced today that Claire Liu received a special exemption into the main draw due to reaching the quarterfinals in the Belgium Grade 1, where she lost today. Also, Brandon Holt was awarded a reciprocal wild card the USTA is now trading with France for their junior slams. The complete USTA release on the American juniors participating in Paris is here.
At the Grade 1 in Belgium, John McNally has continued his fine European clay results, following a quarterfinal showing at the Grade A in Milan with a semifinal at this week's Astrid Bowl. McNally, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 7 seed Ryan Storrie of Great Britain in Friday's semifinal.
The second round of singles and first round of doubles is complete at the NCAA Division I individual championships in Tulsa, with most of the top seeds surviving. The only Top 4 seed out in either the men's or women's draw is Florida's Brooke Austin, the fourth seed, who lost to Rice's Katherine Ip in the first round yesterday. Today was All-American day in the singles, with anyone not seeded in the tournament given that honor if they won their second round match today, with 11 players earning that designation. Bobby Knight's College Tennis Today is the best place to find results.