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Friday, August 11, 2017

Dostanic and Woldeab Earn 16s Semifinal Berths with Three-Set Wins; Doubles Finals Set; Osuigwe Down Liu in Girls 18s; US Girls Reach World Junior Tennis Finals

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

Friday was quarterfinal day for the 16s at Stowe Stadium, with top seed Brandon Nakashima and No. 4 seed Will Grant posting straight-sets wins.  The drama was in the other two contests, with No. 3 seed Siem Woldeab coming from behind to defeat No. 7 seed Alex Lee 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and No. 8 seed Stefan Dostanic riding a roller coaster before posting a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win over No. 2 seed Andrew Dale.

For Woldeab, three sets are business as usual.  Four of his five wins have come in three sets, with three of them from a set down.  In Friday's match with Lee, Woldeab trailed 3-1 in the third set, yet he admitted after his third round match that he often plays better when he is behind.

"I was nervous," said the 16-year-old from Le Mesa California. "I've been training for this tournament all year and the nerves kind of showed in my matches in the first set. But then I just tell myself to relax. If I'm going to go out, I'm going to go out trying my hardest, and that's what I told myself when I was down 1-3. It was a great match and he's a great competitor."

Serving at 3-2, Lee was broken at love, at that was all Woldeab needed, although it was his defense with Lee serving at 4-5 in the third that made the difference.

"I don't feel like I necessarily need to go on offense, you know," said Woldeab, who at 30-all chased down Lee's excellent overhead and saw Lee net his second attempt. "You don't win extra points by hitting the ball harder. So you just have to stay in the point. He started getting in his own head in the second set, started missing a lot, so I told myself you don't have to play offensively, he'll miss for you."

That strategy is unlikely to work against top seed Nakashima, who makes few unforced errors even with his aggressive ground strokes. Against No. 6 seed Leighton Allen, Nakashima found himself in many long rallies, but Allen was often on the losing end, with Nakashima earning a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

"He's gotten the better of me most of the time," Woldeab said of Nakashima, who also lives in the San Diego area. "But we'll see how it goes tomorrow. I feel like I'm playing well in the second and third sets, but I've got to come out better in the first set. But I'm feeling good, so I like my chances."

Dostanic's win over Dale featured streaks by both players. Dostanic trailed 5-2 in the first set, then reeled off five straight games to win it. Dale took the first four games of the second set, only to watch as Dostanic won the next four.  Dale broke the string and held for 5-4, then two unforced errors from the Dostanic forehand at 4-5, 30-30 sealed the set for Dale.

Dale got an important hold in a 14-point first game, but Dostanic got a break for a 2-1 lead and another for a 4-1 lead.  After all the twists and turns of the previous two sets, Dostanic wasn't exactly comfortable in that situation, although he was forcing uncharacteristic errors from Dale.

"I knew that if I could from 0-4 to 4-all, I could win the match in the third set," said Dostanic, the third Southern Californian in the 16s semifinals. "I felt really comfortable about my abilities. But I knew I had to keep my focus and keep my energy up to make sure I close the set, instead of letting him back in the match."

Dostanic said his quarterfinal loss to Dale at Carson's International Spring Championships provided him with valuable information on the best way to approach the match.

"I learned I needed to take more control of the points," Dostanic said. "At ISC he was dictating and I was more on the defensive side. And here, I was in control most of the time, when I was winning at least."

Dostanic will face Grant in Saturday's semifinal, after Grant defeated No. 12 seed Garrett Johns 6-3, 6-4.  Grant took the last four games of the first set and five of the first six games in the second set before Johns rebounded, breaking Grant serving for the match at 5-2.  But with a second opportunity, Grant finished it to advance.

The 16s semifinals are set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the 18s semifinals.  Patrick Kypson[2] will face Ryan Goetz[29] in one 18s semifinal, with JJ Wolf[5] taking on No. 12 seed Alafia Ayeni in the other.

The doubles finals in both divisions will follow the singles semifinals Saturday.

No. 3 seeds John McNally and Wolf saw their title defense end on Friday with the Ohio pair falling 7-5, 6-2 to No. 2 seeds Oliver Crawford and Kypson.  Crawford and Kypson will face top seeds DJ Thomas and Vasil Kirkov, who needed less than an hour to get by unseeded Nathan Perrone and Jake Van Emburgh 6-2, 6-2.  The winner of that match will receive a main draw wild card into the US Open.

The 16s doubles final will not feature the top seeds as Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson were beaten in Friday's semifinals by Grant and Tyler Zine, the No. 3 seeds, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.  Grant and Zink will face No. 24 seeds Eshan Talluri and Woldeab, who beat No. 2 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Spencer Whitaker 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

At the Girls 16 and 18 Nationals in San Diego, No. 8 seed Whitney Osuigwe won the battle of the two most recent girls slam winners, beating No. 2 seed Claire Liu 7-5, 6-7(8), 6-4.  Osuigwe also defeated Liu in three sets in the final of the French Open back in June.  Osuigwe will face No. 3 seed Ashley Kratzer in the semifinals.  In the other semifinal, Caty McNally, seeded 12th, will face Kelly Chen, a No. 33 seed.

The 16s final features No. 14 seed Nikki Redelijk and No. 9 seed Angelica Blake.

Tennis Channel is providing live coverage of the 16s final and 18s semifinals beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The second-seeded US girls advanced to the finals of the World Junior Tennis competition in the Czech Republic with a 2-1 victory over Russia today. Charlotte Owensby lost her singles match, but Cori Gauff won hers, meaning the doubles would decide it. Owensby and Gauff beat Polina Kudermetova and Maria Timofeeva 6-4, 6-4 to advance against top seed Ukraine. Spain and Switzerland will play for the boys title on Saturday.  For other results, see the tournament website.


Chris Lewis said...

Thank you, Colette, for such comprehensive coverage of what's happening at Kalamazoo. As a coach, it's a service that is greatly appreciated.