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Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Comeback for Woldeab in 16s; Local Favorite Duo Reaches 18s Fourth Round at Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

With the top four seeds in both the 16s and 18s division moving through to the fourth round again Monday, upsets avoided were the story at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium.

A gloomy morning gave way to sunny skies in the early afternoon, with No. 3 16s seed Siem Woldeab making a similar transition in his 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 36 seed Pierce Rollins.

Woldeab lost the opening set in his second round match on Sunday, which was his first match of the tournament.  The 16-year-old from Southern California, down 3-1 in the second set today, admits that he's both a slow starter and more comfortable when trailing.

"He was playing really well at the beginning," Woldeab said. "I knew that in one game he would have to let up, that one game he wouldn't play his best, and he did that at 2-3. I broke his serve, kind of got in his head a little bit. Plus I started hitting less unforced errors. In my last two matches it took me some time to get into the match."

"I have a really big competitive spirit, so when I'm behind, I call up more from myself," Woldeab said. "I don't know, I just play better when I'm behind."

Woldeab also got a lift from his friends, who have supported him throughout his matches, and who gave him a pep talk between the second and third sets.

"I talked to my friends and they were like, look at us and we'll give you a lot of energy," Woldeab said. "That's what happened in the third set yesterday and today. I just look at them and I get pumped up."

Although Woldeab is very thin, he relies on his ability to prevail in long points.

"I feel like my fitness is better than a lot of people's so I take that into account when I play," Woldeab said. "Long rallies tire them out. So even if I lose a long rally, it's possible I can win the next two or three from that one rally because they are so tired."

Top 16s seed Brandon Nakashima rolled past Anand Saluja 6-3, 6-1 and No. 2 seed Andrew Dale posted his second consecutive 6-2, 6-2 win, defeating Michael Andre by that score.  No. 4 seed Will Grant, who had a scare in his opening match on Sunday, defeated Robby Ward 6-3, 6-2.

No. 5 seed Jacob Bullard was the first Top 8 seed in the 16s to fall, going out to unseeded Matthew Che 7-6(5), 6-3.

Top 18s seed Sam Riffice was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over No. 33 seed Sean Sculley, while No. 2 seed Patrick Kypson was challenged by No. 61 seed Matthew Terry before taking a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory.  No. 3 seed Trent Bryde defeated Roger Chou 6-1, 6-4 and No. 4 seed Oliver Crawford took out Yuval Solomon 6-1, 6-3.  No. 8 seed DJ Thomas looked exceptionally sharp in his 6-3, 6-1 victory over 18s Clay Court champion Axel Nefve.

The biggest crowd of the day gathered around Court 4, with local favorite Bill Duo, the No. 18 seed, taking on unseeded Robert Baylon.

Baylon had beaten Duo in May of 2016, so Duo knew he had to be sharp. The 17-year-old from Portage Michigan took the first set 6-3, dropped the second 6-4, but cruised through the third set 6-0 to advance to the fourth round.

Duo said his coach Tom Walker gave him the same advice he usually hears in the 10-minute break between the second and third sets.

"He always tells me to pick my spots, really focus on my serve and really attack," Duo said. "He tells me to focus on my spots and play aggressively.  In the third set, I played a lot more aggressive and I didn't make as many mistakes, and after I got a good start, I took off."

Duo wasn't bothered by not getting his usual show court assignment.
"It's always a privilege to play in the top 3 [courts], but wherever they put me, I'll play. If they ask me, of course I want to play on center court, but I'm not going to complain. I had a lot of fun playing on Court 4 too. A lot of fans came out too, and it was cool. It really made a difference."

On Tuesday, Duo will take on No. 11 seed Alexandre Rotsaert, who beat him 6-0, 6-1 in the second round of the Easter Bowl this spring.

"I played him in the Easter Bowl and I got rocked there," Duo said. "I didn't play well and got a little flustered too. But this time I'm going to come out with a lot more confidence, play my game and not let him dictate."

The only Top 32 seed to lose today was No. 21 Alexander Brown, who fell to No. 41 seed William Peters 6-4, 6-3.  In the 18s, only two of the Top 32 seeds have failed to make the fourth round (not including No. 17 seed Sangeet Sridhar, who withdrew prior to the tournament), and all of the Top 16 seeds are still alive.

The third round of doubles saw the top four 18s doubles teams advance, all without dropping a set.  Top seeds Thomas and Vasil Kirkov beat H.P. Cacciatore and Robert Maciag, the No. 27 seeds, 6-1 6-2; No. 2 seeds Crawford and Kypson beat No. 29 seeds Bryce Pereira and Ivan Thamma 6-4, 6-3; defending champions and No. 3 seeds John McNally and JJ Wolf downed unseeded Diego Nava and Ethan Prost 6-3, 6-2; No. 4 seeds Riffice and Gianni Ross beat No. 26 seeds Blake Croyder and Bradley Frye 7-5, 6-4.

The 16s doubles are a round behind the 18s, with the top 16 seeded teams taking the court for the first time this afternoon. Top seeds Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson defeated Hunter Hootman and Joe Mairs 6-2, 6-1 and No. 2 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Spencer Whitaker beat Matthew Campbell and Sam Feldman 6-0, 6-3.

For complete results from all today's matches, see ustaboys.com.

Play begins on Tuesday at 9 a.m., with the fourth round of 16s singles, followed by the fourth round of 18s singles at 11:30.