Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ball Hit in Anger Leads to Default; Ewing Defeats Naito as Qualifiers Advance at Eddie Herr ITF

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

The eight qualifiers and one lucky loser who advanced to the second round of the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr normally would have been the highlight of Tuesday's action, but a rare default had players, officials and spectators buzzing throughout the afternoon at the IMG Academy.

The match on court one between qualifier Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and Kyrylo Tsygura had been contentious from the start, with a long delay in the second game of the match as Andreev disputed Tsygura's line call and called the roving umpire to rule on the mark. The call went against Tsygura and he asked for the referee, a request that was denied.  These disputes continued throughout the match, which I caught only glimpses of at its beginning and did not see its abrupt ending. The account below is based on what I was told by those who were there.

After the 15-year-old Andreev took the first set 6-4, Tsygura came back to take the second 6-3, and led 4-1, I believe, in the final set. (Without chair umpires and with scoring devices adjusted only on changeovers, it's difficult to be sure). Andreev held for 4-2 and when Tsygura was broken to put the match back on serve, he angrily swatted a ball that ended up hitting a spectator sitting in the courtside bleachers. That spectator turned out to be Andreev's coach, and the roving officials called tournament referee Steve Reitman to the court. After hearing the accounts of the incident, Reitman issued the default, awarding the match to Andreev.

A default in singles does not automatically result in a default from the doubles competition under ITF rules, but if the reason for default is deemed serious enough, it can result in a default from both, which is what happened in this case, with the team of Andres Andrade and Duarte Vale of Portugal moving into the second round by default. Harrison Brown of Australia was Tsygura's doubles partner.

Although he won his fourth match of the tournament in the most unconventional manner, Andreev was one of a quartet of qualifiers to advance to the second round. William Grant had reached the second round with a win over lucky loser Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria on Monday after beating Mermersky in the final round of qualifying on Sunday. On Tuesday, Javier Rodriguez Sanchez of Peru defeated No. 15 seed Oliver Crawford 6-2, 6-2 and Timothy Sah beat Maxeno Broville of France 6-3, 6-4.

Sah has yet to drop a set this week, and the 17-year-old Southern Californian has begun to adjust to the clay after qualifying for both the Grade A in Mexico City and the Grade 1 last week in Yucatan.

"I've been on the road for three weeks, and it's really nice to play qualies, especially if you're playing well, because it gives you extra time to get used to the courts," said Sah, who lost in the first round at both tournaments in Mexico. "I've always liked to play on clay. I played the 12s Spring Nationals when it used to be on clay in Florida, and I had one of my breakthrough tournaments on clay at the 16s Clay Courts two years ago. I got fifth (place) that year and this year I also got fifth in the 18s. I just think my game fits pretty well on clay and I like playing on it."

Sah, who reached the quarterfinals of the 18s Nationals in Kalamazoo this year, has committed to Stanford for next fall.

"I tried not to worry about it on court, back when I was undecided," Sah said. "Now, it's like a big relief to have committed. I'm happy with my decision and now I can just focus on school and playing."

Eight qualifiers and a lucky loser played their first round matches on Tuesday, with five getting through.   Abigail Desiatnikov took the place of Shelly Krolitzky of Israel, who withdrew Tuesday morning with an injury. Desiatnikov faced Peyton Stearns, also a lucky loser, and Desiatnikov emerged with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Vanessa Ong, who knows something about a lucky loser's second chance, having made the quarterfinals of the US Open Junior Championships this year after losing in the final round of qualifying, earned her entry the more conventional way in qualifying at the Eddie Herr. Today she defeated Georgia Drummy of Ireland 6-4, 6-2.

Imani Graham defeated Mihaela Marculescu of Romania 7-6(7), 7-6(5) and Victoria Emma beat Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia 6-3, 6-1.  The only girls seed to lose on Tuesday was No. 5 seed Yuki Naito of Japan, who went out to Salma Ewing 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Ewing, who spent most of this month playing $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit hard court events in South Africa, said her two qualifying wins over the weekend helped her prepare for an encounter with an ITF Top 25 player like Naito.

"I hadn't really practiced on clay that much, like just one day before this," said the 16-year-old from Southern California. "So I felt like qualifying helped to get acclimated to the court, adjust to the different surface."

Ewing said she changed her court positioning after losing the first set.

"I stepped in, started hovering around the baseline, not standing back," Ewing said. "Once I stood back it opened the court for her and she has really good angles. When I stepped in, she didn't have those angles anymore and I started winning more points, so I told myself to keep doing that."

Down 2-0 in the third set, Ewing won four straight games, but lost her break serving at 4-3, with a disputed call on the baseline going in Naito's favor.  Ewing was determined not to let the loss of that point derail her and she broke Naito right back, using her backhand to maximum effect while Naito's backhand betrayed her.

"I told myself to imagine that the ball was out and think of it as the first point of the first set," Ewing said. "I told myself to stay calm and keep fighting, dig deep and don't give up. I tried to stay as positive as I could and it really helped."

Ewing went down 0-30 serving for the match, but she stayed aggressive and hit two winners to make it 30-all. Naito was unable to get a second serve return in play to give Ewing a match point, and Ewing took advantage, hitting an ace to seal the victory.

Ewing credits her mother Reyana, who is also her coach, with providing a simple mantra that works in the difficult situations that come up late in a match.

"She just tells me to do PFT: positive, footwork and towel," said Ewing. "Not to think about the outcome or anything, just positive, footwork and towel. And usually when I do all those things, I get the results."

Ewing will play Emma in Wednesday's second round, one of just two all-USA matches, with the other between Katya Townsend and Nicole Mossmer.  Of the 16 girls second round singles matches Wednesday, 14 will feature Americans.

Top seed Xiyu Wang of China advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over qualifier Jada Robinson.

Half of the boys seeds in doubles lost in Tuesday's first round, with No. 2 seeds Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan falling to Alexandre Rotsaert and Govind Nanda 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-7, and No. 4 seeds Shinji Hazawa and Naoki Tajima of Japan losing to Danny Thomas and Gianni Ross 6-4, 6-4.  Trent Bryde and Brian Cernoch, the No. 8 seeds, lost to Barnaby Smith and Max Stewart of Great Britain and No. 6 seeds Patrick Kypson and Oliver Crawford were beaten by Daniil Glinka and Kenneth Raisma of Estonia.

Only one seed lost in the first round of the girls doubles, with No. 3 seed Varvara Gracheva of Russia and Daniela Vismane of Latvia losing to Morgan Coppoc and Victoria Emma 2-6, 6-3, 10-7.

Due to damp hard courts this morning after rain overnight, play was delayed in the younger divisions, and not all the first round doubles have been played.  The girls 16s division is a day behind now, with their second round matches scheduled for Wednesday. The other age groups will play their third round matches on Wednesday, with second round singles completed today. Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.