Top Girls 12s Seed Dimitrova Falls in First Round at Junior Orange Bowl; My Award from Tennis Industry Magazine
©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--
I spent the morning at the girls 12s at the Biltmore Tennis Center, and the first match I sat down to watch, between top seed Katerina Dimitrova and Denislava Glushkova, both from Bulgaria, turned out to be the story of the day, with Glushkova taking out Dimitrova 6-2, 7-6(2).
My understanding is that two players from the same country are not supposed to meet in the first round, for the common sense reason that you don't travel all the way to South Florida from Bulgaria to play someone you have probably played many times. For whatever reason, and this is not the only instance, although most of the others involve qualifiers, the match was scheduled and played, and although it wasn't what I would call riveting, it was certainly close.
Many of the rallies saw dozens of balls cross the net, with neither player willing to risk an aggressive shot. On occasion, Dimitrova, who won five European tournaments in the 12s this year, would try a drop shot and pass combination, but most of the time the strategy backfired, with Glushkova putting her reply out of Dimtrova's reach.
The game that probably decided the match was with Dimitrova serving for the second set at 5-4. That single game lasted more than 25 minutes, and although I was not keeping score (I rarely do in a first round match), I think Dimitrova may have squandered as many as eight set points. Again, the points were excruciatingly long, often with no intent from either on shot after shot, with both players' only goal not to miss. When Glushkova finally broke to bring it back to 5-all, she did shout haide, Bulgarian for come on, but that reaction was rare. For long stretches the girls showed little emotion, and there was no questioning of line calls, which given the circumstances, and their status as teammates in Tennis Europe events, was understandable.
After winning that set-length game, Glushkova was promptly broken, but on her second opportunity to serve out the set, Dimitrova again could not finish it, and they went to a tiebreaker. Down a mini-break at the first changeover, Dimitrova lost a second point on serve when Glushkova hit a rare winner to make it 5-2. Two backhand errors from Dimitrova, who also lost in the first round as the top seed at the Eddie Herr, ended it in two sets, after nearly two hours and 30 minutes.
I also watched some of No. 4 seed and Eddie Herr finalist Katrina Scott's 6-1, 6-1 win over lucky loser Grace Levelston and all of No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm's 6-0, 6-0 victory over fellow left-hander Yimei Zhao of China. Wiersholm told me she did not play Eddie Herr because she did not want to miss two weeks of school. Older brother Henrik, a junior at the University of Virginia, just finished his finals this week and will be in Coral Gables watching his sister compete in the next few days.
Later in the day, No. 2 seed Cori Gauff advanced without dropping a game.
I spent the afternoon six blocks north at the boys 12s at Salvadore Park, where No. 4 seed William Jansen of Great Britain was beaten by Alvaro Pedraza 7-6(4), 6-1. Four of the top eight seeds in the boys 12s are out after the first day, with No. 6 seed Jose Maciel Neto (BRA) withdrawing and No. 7 seed Lun Obrul of Slovenia and No. 8 seed Patrick Brady of Thailand falling in the their opening matches.
Mary Joe Fernandez, who was the guest speaker at Tuesday's registration, has a son competing in the 12s. Nicholas Godsick, who received a wild card, defeated lucky loser Julian Alonso 7-5, 6-2 and will face top seed Dino Prizmic of Croatia in Thursday's second round.
At the girls 14s, top seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia and No. 2 seed Holly Fischer of Great Britain advanced it straight sets. No. 4 seed Victoria Hu withdrew and was replaced by a lucky loser.
Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.
The January 2017 issue of Tennis Industry magazine is out, which features its annual Champions of Tennis Awards. I'm honored to have been named the Junior Tennis Champion for 2016. A pdf of the issue is available at the TI website.