Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meyer Tops Chi in Four-Hour Marathon; Three Unseeded Players Reach Quarterfinals at USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts; Bellis Reaches Quarterfinals at WTA Stanford

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Memphis, TN--

A grueling four-hour match in the heat and humidity is a staple of every Girls 18s Clay Court Championship I've attended in the past nine years, and Thursday's round of 16 delivered today, with No. 9 seed Amanda Meyer's 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 3 seed Meible Chi.

Because it was played on Court 1, which has no spectator seating, keeping up on all the ebbs and flows of the match was difficult, but as matches on the other three courts in the row started and ended, sometimes twice, there was no mistaking the effort of the two Floridians as hour after hour went by.

Chi was suffering physically more than two and a half hours into the match, getting treatment for a back injury, and, leading 5-3 in the second set, began cramping. Standing well behind the baseline, bent over and leaning on her racquet, Chi received treatment on that spot during the game.  She managed to close out the set, which gave her the mandatory (and not heat-related) 10-minute break to continue her recovery.

Meyer felt she had an advantage once the third set began.

"Knowing that she was still a little hurt, I tried to make the balls and take control of the point as quickly as possible, and stay in the rallies, not give up and go after everything," said Meyer, who turned 17 Monday. "I felt like I handled the conditions a little better."

Meyer got a double fault from Chi to go up 4-3 in the third set and consolidated the break for a 5-3 lead. Chi held at love to force Meyer to serve out the match, and Meyer made it easy on herself by making every first serve. She held at love, and after nearly four hours, Chi and Meyer exchanged a hug at the net.

"I train with Meible and we do a lot of practice matches together," said Meyer, a rising senior who is still considering her college options, while the 17-year-old Chi is starting at Duke this fall. "We sort of knew each others games, so it was just a battle of who could be the most consistent and who could take control of the point faster, who could stay in there mentally."

Training in Florida, Meyer has much experience and affection for the Har-Tru surface.

"I love the clay," said Meyer, who won the Florida State Closed on it last month. "It's my favorite surface. I was beyond excited to come here, and I'm just happy to play on this surface."

Chi finished the match, but she withdrew from the back draw and doubles.

Meyer's quarterfinal opponent is unseeded Nina Sorkin, who has won all five of her matches in straight sets, including today's 6-0, 6-3 victory over unseeded Nicole Conard.

The other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw features No. 1 seed Janice Shin against Isabella Lorenzini, a No. 9 seed.

Shin advanced with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over No. 9 seed Lexi Milunovich, coming from 4-2 down in the second set to avoid exceeding two hours on the court.  Lorenzini put an end to the run of 12-year-old Cori Gauff, earning a 6-3, 6-2 win.

"I really didn't think about her age or anything, I just played her like I would play anyone else," said the 17-year-old, who has verbally committed to Michigan. "I know she's good, and she's also taller than I am, but I just went out there and played how I'd played my previous matches."

Lorenzini went up a quick two breaks, as Gauff double faulted on game points in both her first and second service games. Gauff got two breaks of her own, but held only once in the set, and again double faulted to end the first set.

The second set was closer, with Gauff able to hold serve in her first two attempts, but she was broken the next two times, unable to play consistently enough to pressure Lorenzini.

"I honestly think people are too scared, because she's 12," said Lorenzini, who acknowledged her own feisty reputation. "I don't think she was expecting me to go out there and fight for it. But I love competing. She's a great player, she's very young, and I'm happy I beat her."

In the bottom half, unseeded Chelsea Kung will play No. 4 seed Ann Li and No. 9 seed Elysia Bolton will play unseeded Chiara Lommer.

Kung picked up her second straight three-set win over a seed, beating Emma Kurtz 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, while Li continued her dominant play, defeating No. 17 seed Anna Brylin 6-1, 6-1. Li has lost just nine games in her four wins.

Bolton defeated unseeded Abigail Forbes 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Chiara Lommer, who beat No. 17 seed Anika Yarlagadda 7-5, 6-2. Lommer, who will start at Michigan this fall, has won all five of her matches in straight sets, while Bolton hasn't surrendered more than three games in any set and has kept her time on court to a minimum, a huge plus in the 100-degree heat.

Lightning in the area caused a delay in the round of 16 doubles matches scheduled for the afternoon, but all matches were completed, with the quarterfinals set for Friday. Three singles quarterfinalists, Bolton, Li and Lommer, have advanced to the doubles quarterfinals. For the draws, see the TennisLink site.

I haven't had an opportunity to follow the other tournaments going on in the US this week as I normally would, but wanted to mention Usue Arconada's first WTA win at the Citi Open in Washington DC, a 7-6(3), 6-4 decision over fellow wild card Francoise Abanda of Canada, and CiCi Bellis' run to her first WTA quarterfinal at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.  Bellis, a wild card, defeated Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the No. 6 seed, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round and tonight topped qualifier Sachia Vickery 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to earn a meeting with top seed Venus Williams on Friday.


tennisfan said...

Somewhat surprising that it looks like Bellis, with all her success already on the tour already, is committing to play at Stanford if she has the grades: http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_30146773/cici-bellis-17-wins-first-round-bank-west

She's probably smart to ensure her future with a degree from a top university, rather than going pro now and, if she's lucky, being a top 100 or top 50 player for a handful of years. But I can't imagine anyone in college tennis would be close to her in ability. Will be interesting to see if she does end up heading to Stanford and, if so, whether she stays 4 years.

Right move said...

Good move by CiCi going to Stanford. Too risky not to go to college. She could go for a year, then always come back to finish later. There is no guarantee she will ever rule women's tennis, or make a lot of money in it for a sustained period of time, as evidenced by scores of matches when she plays the big girls of the sport. We see these young players do big things now and then, but to be successful in the sport means continued dominance and success. We don't see a lot of that.