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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fourth Seed Grant, Third Seed Woldeab Survive in Three Sets in 16s Second Round Kalamazoo Action; Kirkov and Thomas Reflect on Exhibition; Mmoh, Min Win at Lexington; Keys Claims Stanford Title, Querrey is Champion in Mexico; US Boys Top Seeds at ITF World Junior Tennis Competition

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

Top seed Brandon Nakashima and No. 2 seed Andrew Dale had no trouble in their opening matches of the Boys 16s National Championship at Stowe Stadium Sunday, with Nakashima defeating Sam Feldman 6-0,6-0 and Dale downing AJ Woodman 6-2, 6-2.

But for No. 3 seed Siem Woldeab and No. 4 seed Will Grant, their first matches of the tournament proved to be stern tests, with both losing the first set before prevailing in three.

Grant was down 7-5, 5-3 30-0 to Ryan Bernstine, but rallied to take the last ten games of the match to earn a 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 victory.

"At 5-3 30-love it wasn't looking too good," Grant said. "I just kind of hung in there, came up with a couple of big shots. I knew if I just hung in there, he might get a little tight and that's kind of what happened. I knew once I won that second, if I came out big in the third, that would be good."

The 10-minute break between the second and third sets, could have resulted in Grant cooling off, but he stuck to his routines.

"I changed clothes, did all my drinks again and talked to my coach," said the 16-year-old from Florida. "He said to just keep doing what I was doing. I think my execution was pretty poor, but he told me once I got in the point I was doing well. It was nothing really that changed, I just did everything a little better."

Due to a mixup with his entry, Grant was not on the original acceptance list, but got in as an alternate prior to the start of the tournament.

"It was the same thing with Axel Nefve," Grant said. "I've moved around the last couple of years, and for some reason I was under New York and I wasn't sanctioned in New York. They said if they didn't fix it, I'd get a wild card for sure, but I got No. 1 on the alternate list and someone pulled out, so I got in."

Grant's changes of scenery--he now is training with the USTA at Lake Nona--have not been confined to his US residences, as he is coming off a long stretch of ITF Junior Circuit tournaments in Europe on clay.

"This is the first tournament I've play on a hard court in a while, so it's always challenging,especially in the first couple of rounds," said the 16-year-old. "I knew it's not going to be easy, and he came out a little bit more solid than I thought. It's different; I was playing in a Grade 2 final less than a month ago, and now I'm in with 300 kids 16-and-under, so it's a little different situation, but doing the routines, day in and day out is what makes the difference."

Woldeab rebounded to defeat Niroop Vallabhaneni 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, getting a break at 4-4 in the third and saving two break points in the final game. From 15-40 down serving for the match, Woldeab won the final four points of the game hitting a forehand volley winner just inside the sideline to claim his first match point.

The only top 32 seed to fall in 16s second round action Sunday was No. 28 Spencer Brachman, who went out to Zachary Smith 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Kirkov, Thomas, referee Darrell Davies, Roddick and Russell
Annoying, but ultimately harmless, rain delays began at Stowe Stadium around 1 p.m., with none of the three interruptions more than 35 minutes in length.  The third and longest delay came right after top 18s doubles seeds Vasil Kirkov and DJ Thomas had taken a first-set tiebreaker in their 7-6(3), 6-1 win over 2016 16s doubles champion Maximilian Wild and his partner Drew Baird.

"We got down an early break and they we playing some really good tennis," Kirkov said. "I got broken at 1-all and they continued playing well. At 5-4, it just came down to a couple of points, maybe a little nerves and we took advantage. After that, it got a little bit easier."

Kirkov and Thomas reached the finals of the Grade A in Milan and the French Open this spring, and are building confidence with each win.

"We've gotten used to each other's games a little bit more," Thomas said. "We're working out a little more strategy, just getting to know each other a little better helps a lot, so we feel pretty confident."

In the Greenleaf Hospitality and RX Optical Exhibition Saturday night, Kirkov and Thomas played Andy Roddick and Mike Russell in a one-set match, losing 6-3 in front of a sold out crowd of several thousand fans. But the result was the least memorable part of the evening for the pair.

"It was great," Thomas said. "Andy was really nice, making it fun for us. Starting off, I know I was a little bit nervous, playing against him and that crowd. He helped us relax a little, and it was just a great experience."

"We were both pretty nervous at the beginning," Kirkov said. "Just to share the court with them is an honor. It was an amazing experience. I returned Andy's serve, stuff like that."

Kirkov managed to ace Roddick during the match, something he said he will always remember.

"I won't forget," Kirkov said. "For sure he will."

The top 7 18s doubles seeds advanced to the third round, with the No. 8 seeds Trent Bryde and Brian Cernoch falling to Benji Jacobson and Nicholas Williams 2-6, 6-4, 10-7.  Bryde and Cernoch led 6-2, 3-1, but Jacobson, from Michigan, and Williams, from Ohio, rode the support of the Midwest section crowd to the win.

Defending champions JJ Wolf and John McNally, the No. 3 seeds, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Maxwell Benson and Oren Vasser.

Third round matches in 16s and 18s singles are scheduled for Monday at all three sites, along with the second round of 16s doubles and the third round of 18s doubles.  The complete order of play is available at ustaboys.com.

In other tennis news Sunday, Michael Mmoh, just a year removed from his Kalamazoo 18s title, won the $75,000 Lexington Challenger, the second ATP Challenger title of his career.  Mmoh, the No. 4 seed, beat No. 3 seed John Millman of Australia 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 in today's final, moved indoors because of rain.  Mmoh will move into the ATP Top 150 for the first time with the title. In the women's final at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Lexington, No. 7 seed Grace Min defeated No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin 6-4, 6-1 to claim her first title of the year, and her first at that prize money level since 2014.

Former Texas Longhorn Liam Caruana of Italy won his first Futures title at the $25,000 Futures in Decatur Illlinois. The No. 2 seed defeated No. 5 seed and fellow 19-year-old Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 7-6(4), 6-1 in today's final.  Top seeds Alexandru Gozun(South Florida) and Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Edward and Harry Bourchier of Australia 6-2, 7-6(2).

Qualifier Katerina Stewart won the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Fort Worth, beating 16-year-old Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-4, 6-1 in the final. Mexico's Giuliana Olmos(USC) and Australia's Ellen Perez(Georgia) won the doubles title. The No. 4 seeds defeated the Japanese team of Miharu Imanishi and Ayaka Okuno(Georgia), the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Madison Keys won the all-American final at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, beating CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6(4), 6-4. For more on the final, see the WTA website.

Sam Querrey continued his excellent summer, taking the title in Los Cabos Mexico.  Querrey defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in Saturday night's final. For more on Querrey's title, see the ATP website.

The ITF's World Junior Tennis  14-and-under competition begins Monday in the Czech Republic, with the US boys seeded No. 1 and the US girls seeded No. 2. Representing the US are Martin Damm, Toby Kodat and Alexander Bernard for the boys, and Cori Gauff, Charlotte Owensby and Gabby Price.  Links to the draws, live scoring and live streaming can be found at the ITF junior website.


Hoo Fan said...

Alexandria, Virginia's Treat Huey (UVA) won the doubles in Los Cabo's with Cabal.

Austin said...

Where are the Khan twins? I know they were top players in the 12's and I thought I saw one of them already turned pro, but I don't see them at Kalamazoo and doesn't seem like heard much from them at the big tournaments.