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Monday, November 28, 2016

World No. 1 Kecmanovic Cruises to First Round Win at Eddie Herr ITF, but Eight Seeds Exit; Top Seeds in Boys 16s and Girls 12s Eliminated

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

Miomir Kecmanovic, the top seed at the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr, decided at the beginning of 2016 that reaching No. 1 in the world in the ITF Junior rankings was a goal he wanted to pursue before focusing on professional tennis. The 17-year-old Serbian, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, took over the top spot in the rankings earlier this month when he won the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano and he may not have any competition for the year-end title of World Junior Champion, despite needing to defend his points at the Grade A Orange Bowl next week.

By taking wild cards into the Grade A two weeks ago and last week's Grade 1 in Mexico, Kecmanovic had a chance to surpass then No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece with a title, and he also build a cushion in prior to his Orange Bowl defense.

"That was basically the thought process," said Kecmanovic. "I got the wild card a week before I went, so it turned out pretty good for me. Now I think it's a little easier coming into Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl."

Kecmanovic was initially expected to go head-to-head with Tsitsipas at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl, where they met in the quarterfinals and finals respectively in 2015, but Tsitsipas withdrew from the Eddie Herr, and is not expected to play the Orange Bowl.

"He's still in (the entry list), but he said he's done for the season," Kecmanovic said. "It's not like him, because he usually plays every week possible. He posted it on Facebook, and I got on Facebook and I was like, yes."

In his 6-0, 6-1 victory today over No. 181 Siphosothando Montsi of South Africa, Kecmanovic had both a physical advantage and an experience advantage.  Although Montsi, like Kecmanovic, turned 17 recently, he would not have been out of place in the 14s draw, with his slight build.  Montsi has played and won events throughout Africa, but this is his first visit to North America, and he was simply overpowered by Kemanovic on most of the points.

"Physically he wasn't that ready," said Kecmanovic. "I had to be focused, stay in every point played as I normally would, to practice for the next round."

Kecmanovic will play another boy outside the Top 100 in Wednesday's second round, Great Britain's Max Stewart, who beat wild card Russell Benkaim 7-5, 6-2.

Of the 12 boys seeds who played first round matches on Monday, five lost, with four of them beaten by Americans.

Vasil Kirkov took out No. 4 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on the Academy Park courts, which are a tram ride away from the main site.  Earlier in the day at Academy Park, Patrick Kypson defeated No. 9 seed Dan Added of France 6-4, 6-1, with Ivan Lendl, who has served as a coaching consultant for several USTA boys, in attendance for the first part of the match.  Lendl then made his way to the main site to watch Sebastian Korda defeat No. 8 seed Toru Horie of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Govind Nanda  took out No. 10 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-3, 6-3. The fifth seed to go out was No. 5 seed Duarte Vale of Portugal, who was beaten by Finn Bass of Great Britain 6-3, 6-0.

The other US boys advancing to Wednesday's second round are qualifier William Grant, No. 7 seed Sam Riffice, wild card Lukas Greif, who plays Korda next, No. 11 seed Trent Bryde and Danny Thomas.

The top two girls seeds, Xiyu Wang of China and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, have drawn qualifiers and will not play their first round matches until Tuesday.

No. 3 seed Ellie Douglas had her hands full with Emiliana Arango of Colombia, but the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano finalist came through with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory.

"I started out the first set well, but I had my problems in the second set," said the 16-year-old from Texas, who did not play last week's Grade 1 Yucatan Cup. "I relaxed a little bit and as soon as you do that everything kind of falls apart. So in the third set, I just had to regroup, stick to what I knew, keep swinging at the ball."

Douglas has had difficulties with double faulting late in matches, particularly in her last two finals, so she had to be pleased with her serving at 5-4 in the third set.  She made all six of her first serves, with a particularly good one earning her a free point at 15-30 and closed out her first match point with a well-executed forehand pass.

"That's my goal," Douglas said when asked about her serving in the final game. "It's always good to make a first serve and not put any pressure on the second. Coming up with a good serve at 15-30, so that helped a lot. First round is always a little tough, so I'm excited to get through that and on to the next round."

Douglas's opponent on Wednesday will be Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru, who was a semifinalist last week at the Yucatan Cup.

Of the 12 girls seeds in action Monday, three were beaten: No. 7 seed Natasha Subhash, No. 8 seed Malene Helgo of Norway and No. 13 seed Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico.  Subhash lost to Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, Helgo was beaten by Jimena Rodriguez-Benito 6-2, 6-1 and Portillo Ramirez fell to Nicole Mossmer 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3).

First round US girls winners in addition to Douglas, Rodriguez-Benito and Mossmer are: No. 14 seed Morgan Coppoc, Elysia Bolton, Katya Townsend, Ann Li, wild card Marlee Zein and Whitney Osuigwe. Carson Branstine, who won a tough three-setter over Helene Pellicano of Malta, is still technically playing for USA until her Canadian passport comes through.  My article on her move to Canada can be found here.

The doubles draws have been posted with Kecmanovic and No. 2 singles seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada the top boys seeds.  Oliver Crawford and Patrick Kypson are seeded No. 6 and Trent Bryde and Brian Cernoch are the No. 8 seeds.

Yuki Naito of Japan and Kiyu Wang of China are the top seeds in the girls doubles draw, with Douglas and Subhash the No. 2 seeds. Sofia Sewing and Portillo Ramirez of Mexico are the No. 7 seeds and Branstine and Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany are seeded No. 8.

First round matches in the girls 14s and girls 16s are still being played as of 8:00 p.m., but the No. 1 seeds in those divisions, Qinwen Zheng of China and Eun Ji Oh of Korea, are safely through.  Girls 12s top seed Katerina Dimitrova of Bulgaria was beaten by qualifier Daria Zykova of Russia 6-3, 6-2.

Boys 16s No. 1 seed Yeong Seok Jeong of Korea went out to wild card JanMagnus Johnson 7-5, 7-6(4). Top 14s seed Bu Yunchaokete of China and top 12s seed Victor Lilov both advanced with straight-sets victories.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

In Sunday's recap, I neglected to mention the results of last week's $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Nashville.  Twenty-four-year-old qualifier Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada defeated No. 1 seed Jennifer Elie 7-6(6), 6-4 for her second career singles title and first since 2014. Catherine Harrison and Madison Kobelt won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating unseeded Melissa Kopinski and Felicity Maltby 6-3, 6-0 in the final.

This week the men are in Waco Texas for a $25,000 Futures, with qualifying completed today.  TCU's Cameron Norrie of Great Britain is the No. 1 seed.