Lilov Ousts Eddie Herr Champion Kang as Four US Boys, Five US Girls Advance to Quarterfinals at Junior Orange Bowl 12s; Top Two Boys and Girls 14s Seeds Move On
©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--
My focus was on the boys 12s today, and there were several notable round of 16 results on the Har-Tru courts of Salvadore Park, with top seed Dino Prizmic of Croatia knocked out by unseeded Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguay and No. 3 seed Victor Lilov defeating No. 9 seed and Eddie Herr champion Gunuk Kang of Korea 6-0, 6-3.
Lilov won the first set quickly, with Kang making a lot of unforced errors in the opening games. Lilov had won his previous two matches without dropping a game, so he was up to five consecutive 6-0 sets after the first set on Court 1 today, but that ended quickly, with Kang holding in the first games of the second set.
The second game was a long one, with Lilov required to save several break points before he finally got the hold.
"It was crucial," said Lilov, the USTA National 12s champion. "It was very important to me. He's an Eddie Herr champion, so he'll show you how to come back and fight. I got lucky there, so I'm happy I was able to push through that game."
After failing to break, Kang was broken in the next game and Lilov held for 3-1, but the subsequent games were all close contested, the opposite of the first set. Lilov was unable to serve out the match at 5-2 and Kang went up 40-15 with two game points to force Lilov to serve for it at 5-4, but Kang couldn't convert either and Lilov won the final four points of the match.
The wind was definitely a factor throughout the match, and Lilov, who lost in the Eddie Herr semifinals, thought the change in the surface this week from hard to Har-Tru might have worked in his favor as well.
"I didn't feel he played a lot on the clay, based on the way he couldn't really slide to my drop shots or anything," said Lilov, who trains with Steve Smith in Raleigh, North Carolina. "He wasn't really natural, so that helped me out a lot and I train a lot on clay."
Lilov said his semifinal loss to Jonah Braswell at the Eddie Herr helped convince him he needed to change his approach in this match.
"At Eddie Herr I wasn't aggressive on important points, and this time I was," Lilov said.
Lilov moved forward often and finished with well-executed volleys, although he said that part of his game is still a work in progress.
"Today I didn't brick my volleys, I hit them this time," said Lilov. "Usually I don't hit them hard, but today I stuck them."
Next for Lilov is No. 5 seed Evan Wen, who defeated unseeded Jaden Weekes of Canada 6-3, 6-3. Wen has beaten Lilov three times this year, twice in match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set, and 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the 12s Clay Courts.
"I'm pumped up," said Lilov. "I hope can play better this time. He played well last time, but I want to do better. He hits the ball and is very aggressive."
The winner of that all-American quarterfinal will play the winner of the match between Vallejo and Dinko Dinev of Bulgaria. Dinev, who is unseeded, defeated Aidan Kim 6-1, 6-1.
Another unseeded quarterfinalist is Minseong Kim of Korea, who defeated Aron Pilbart of Canada 1-6, 6-4, 6-0. Kim will face No. 9 seed Ron Ellouck of Israel, who beat Gonzalo Bueno Rodriguez of Peru 7-6(6), 6-2.
A second all-American quarterfinal features two No. 9 seeds, Bruno Kuzuhara and John Lasanajak. Kuzuhara's 6-4, 6-2 win over Lautaro Midon Ballesteros of Argentina was tough, but it paled in comparison to Lasanajak's 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Lucca Liu of Brazil, in which Lasanajak saved a match point.
Lasanajak overwhelmed Liu, who had beaten No. 2 seed Haesun Lee of Korea on Friday, in the first set, but couldn't maintain that level.
"I thought it was going to be swift," said Lasanajak, who trains with his father in Lawrenceville, Georgia. "It got too easy and I thought it would be easy and my level dropped. In the second set, he picked it up, he played pretty well. The third set was just a fight."
Liu had a small cheering section from a local club where he had practiced prior to the tournament, and after he won three straight games in the third set, those supporters were ready to erupt when Lasanajak went down 30-40 serving at 4-5. He refused to play tentatively however, hitting a swinging forehand volley winner near the line to save it, and after a forehand error by Liu, Lasanajak hit a backhand winner to make it 5-all.
In the next game, Liu had two game points, but several unforced errors led to a break for Lasanajak, who then faced the difficult task of serving out the match. He handled it well, getting to 40-15, then sealing the victory with an ace.
"I had to keep the ball at a good pace," Lasanajak said. "The whole set before I was just hitting soft shots. But he made some errors at the end, and that gave me an opportunity."
The girls 12s quarterfinals also feature two between players from the US. The one American not playing another is No. 2 seed Cori Gauff, a semifinalist last year, who will face unseeded Stela Peeva of Bulgaria. Peeva reached the semifinals of the Eddie Herr 12s earlier this month, while Gauff was a quarterfinalist in the Eddie Herr 16s. Gauff beat No. 9 seed Anne Lutkemeyer 6-2, 6-1, with Peeva defeating unseeded Kelly Dowuona of Canada 6-4, 6-0.
No. 4 seed Katrina Scott and No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm will face off on Sunday, after Scott defeated No. 9 seed Rebecca Lynn 7-6(6), 7-6(3) and Wiersholm got past unseeded Annabelle Xu of Canada 6-4, 7-5. No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky will play No. 9 seed Daniella Benabraham in the other all-US quarterfinal. Ovrootsky defeated No. 9 seed Aliona Falei of Belarus 6-4, 6-4 and Benabraham came back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Alexandra Eala of the Philippines.
In both the girls and boys 14s, the top two seeds are still on course to meet in the final.
In the girls 14s, No. 1 seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia defeated No. 9 seed Gabby Price 7-5, 6-3 and will meet the only American remaining in the quarterfinals, unseeded Alexa Noel. Noel defeated No. 9 seed Carol Plakk of Estonia 7-5, 6-4. No. 2 seed Holly Fischer of Great Britain defeated Lisa Pigato of Italy 6-4, 6-3 and will play unseeded Canadian Jada Bui, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Sinja Kraus of Austria. Third seed Qinwen Zheng of China defeated unseeded Savannah Broadus 6-1, 6-3 and will play No. 9 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan, who ended the run of unseeded Maxi Duncan 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. Another Great Britain and Canadian quarterfinal has No. 7 seed Emma Raducanu of Great Britain against unseeded Natasha Sengphrachanh, both of whom defeated compatriots in the round of 16. Raducanu defeated Kylie Bilchev 6-2, 6-4 and Sengphrachanh defeated No. 9 seed Ariana Arseneault.
Three US boys have advanced to the quarterfinals, which move to the University of Miami of Sunday, although Les Petits As champion Stefan Leustian is not among them. Leustian, a No. 9 seed, lost to top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China 6-4, 6-4. No. 2 seed Alex Lee advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 17 seed Luca Nardi of Italy, and will play unseeded Jacobi Bain of the Bahamas after Bain outlasted Ryotaro Koshiba of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman earned his quarterfinal encounter with No. 4 seed Santiago de la Fuente of Argentina after beating Marcus McDaniel, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 6-4. No. 5 seed Zane Khan, the only Eddie Herr champion still able to sweep both titles, defeated Juan Torres of Argentina 6-2, 6-4 and will play Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain, a No. 17 seed. Heynold defeated unseeded Niroop Vallabhaneni 6-4, 6-2.
For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.