Shi Ousts Top Seed Bryde, Brooksby Eliminates 2016 Finalist RIffice in ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships
©Colette Lewis 2017--
Brian Shi wasn't exactly enthusiastic when he saw that he had drawn top seed Trent Bryde in the first round of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships. But Shi had played Bryde close in a match last summer and recently won the ITF Grade 3 tournament in Costa Rica, so he was ready for the challenge, recording a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 victory on the StubHub Center's stadium court.
"I think anyone who gets the one seed would be a little like, yeah it's a bad draw," said the 17-year-old from New York. "But I knew I was playing very well, and I played Trent [last August] in College Park and it was very close, I had a lot of chances there. So I thought he would be a little nervous playing me also."
Shi took the first set with a late break, but he knew Bryde would raise his level in the second set.
"He wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't a competitor," the 144th-ranked Shi said of the 11th-ranked Bryde. "I knew he was going to keep competing and come back."
Bryde played some excellent defense to get the only break of the second set, with Shi broken at love serving at 3-all. Bryde, who won the Grade A in Brazil last month, was able to serve out the set, and looked poised to avoid the upset, but Shi regrouped quickly. A backhand winner gave Shi at 2-0 lead in the third set, and as Bryde began to press, the unforced errors began to come in bunches. Shi showed no nerves and kept to his game plan of keeping the ball deep.
"It was probably my best win, and I played very well," said Shi, who has recently given a verbal commitment to Harvard for the fall of 2018. "I think that's alleviated some of the pressure in tournament. I don't go in thinking if I lose this match I might not get into the college I want, so I can come out swinging."
Shi, who trains in Jupiter Florida with Andrei Daescu, the former University of Oklahoma star, said he was particularly happy with the win given his results in the 2016 tournament.
"Last year I didn't do well at all," said Shi. "I actually lost first and first. So I'm really happy with my win here, and I'm going to try to keep it going in my next match."
While Shi knew he was facing the top seed once the draw came out, wild card Jenson Brooksby kept himself in the dark about his opponent, No. 4 seed and 2016 finalist Sam Riffice.
"In this tournament I didn't check the draw and I only knew who I was going to play an hour before," said the 16-year-old Californian, who was a finalist in the Kalamazoo 16s last year. "It helps me focus on my game. But I was excited to play him."
Brooksby lost the first set to Riffice in short order, but he wasn't discouraged, going on to record a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
"I knew what I was doing wrong, so I knew that I could come back," Brooksby said. "I was hitting too many short balls, so he was able to play offense and come in, which he likes to do. In the second and third sets I got more length and was able to dictate play, keep running him around and he started to get tired, I could tell."
Riffice was struggling with his backhand, and held serve only once in the final set, in the opening game. Brooksby was disappointed with all the breaks he gave back, but retained his confidence despite getting broken serving for the match at 5-2.
"I knew I could do well in the return games, but it's something to work on for my next match," Brooksby said of his poor first serve percentage.
Girls top seed Taylor Johnson was tested by Victoria Hu, but unlike Bryde, she was able to pull out a victory in three sets, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Two girls seeds went out, with No. 8 seed Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia falling to wild card Hannah Zhao 7-6(2), 7-6(2) and No. 5 seed Natasha Subhash dropping her match with Alexa Noel 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. Subhash and Noel were moved from Court 5 when the lights on that court didn't work, and it was well past 9 p.m. when that battle finally concluded.
In the 16s first round, all of the seeded players had byes.
In the 18s, there are nine girls first round matches and eight boys first round matches left to be played. With rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, Tuesday's schedule starts off at 8 a.m. with the completion of the first round of 18s singles.
See the tournament website for the full draws and Tuesday's order of play.