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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Disappointing Opening Day for American Juniors at US Open; Coaching Debuts, Serve Clock Returns; Williams, Stephens and Querrey Advance to Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Flushing Meadow, NY--

Rain on Sunday morning pushed back the start of the US Open Junior Championships by three hours, but the improving weather didn't result in a brighter outlook for US juniors, with only seven of the 21 on Sunday's schedule posting victories.

One of the most impressive performances was turned in by unseeded Sam Riffice, who defeated No. 4 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan 6-3, 6-2.

Riffice, who did not play in either of the two ITF Junior Circuit warmup events, worked on his serve in the weeks since Kalamazoo and it paid off for him against Shimizu, with seven aces, no double faults, and no break points faced.

"It felt really good, I don't think he had a break point on my serve the whole match," said Riffice, who is using an abbreviated serve motion now. "I was dictating, had a high first serve percentage. I've been working it a lot since Kalamazoo."

Riffice was playing so well that nothing was likely to bother him, but he did admit that playing on Court 6, with the occasional roar of the crowd from Venus Williams' match on Ashe as background noise, took some getting used to.

"The first couple of games it was hard to focus," said the 18-year-old University of Florida recruit. "But after that I kind of got into it. A couple of times, Ashe got really loud, that was kind of hard to tune out-- the good points, I could hear them--but aside from that I was able to focus after the first two or three games."

Riffice, who is playing in his fourth US Open Junior Championships, played with the 25-second serve clock last year when it was first introduced, and he is a fan.

"I like it a lot," Riffice said. "I feel like if I go up to the line and there's 20 or 15 seconds, it feels good to know I have some time to take a break before the next point."

This year another innovation is being introduced, with coaching allowed from the stands.  Riffice took advantage of it when possible, but didn't use it extensively for logistical reasons.

"After the first set, he took a bathroom break, and I went over there, and actually at 4-3 in the first set I went over there," Riffice said of his brief conversations with USTA coaches Sylvain Guichard, Dean Goldfine and his mother, Lori Riffice. "But it's really hard to hear them unless you're standing right next to them. If you're standing at the typical return spot, you can't hear what they're saying. But I thought it was good; they didn't overcoach me or anything and I just asked about my return position, or they gave me tips throughout the match. We didn't go too in-depth, just kept it simple."

Unlike Riffice, wild card Katie Volynets, who defeated No. 13 seed Emily Appleton of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4, was playing her first junior slam, which meant the additional innovations of serve clock and coaching were hardly the only adjustments she was required to make.

"At first, it was a little bit unusual for me to have that clock there," said the 15-year-old from Northern California. "I felt a little bit rushed, but I got used to it really quickly and it just became a part of the game to me. The 25 seconds seems a lot longer when I'm there than it sounds."

As for the coaching, Volynets was able to use that option, with Richard Tompkins, one of her coaches, on the sidelines giving advice.

"I thought it was nice," said Volynets. "It's nice to be able to walk up and ask for help when you need it. I like walking up rather than having signals. It's definitely a new thing and I kind of like it."

The hustle and bustle of the grounds during the holiday weekend can be overwhelming for those more accustomed to the usual low-key junior events, but Volynets adapted immediately.

"I love this place," Volynets said. "I really enjoy this."

Volynets will place fellow wild card Natasha Subhash, who defeated Thaisa Pedretti of Brazil 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In addition to Appleton, two other girls seeds lost, both Americans.  No. 11 seed Ann Li won nine straight games against Lulu Sun of Switzerland to go from 3-1 down in the first set to 4-0 up in the second, but she couldn't close it out, and Sun claimed a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory.  Maria Carle defeated No. 7 seed Taylor Johnson 6-3, 7-5, after Johnson had come back from 5-1 down in the second set, only to be broken when serving to get into a tiebreaker.

No. 4 seed Amanda Anisimova was the other US girl to advance to the second round, beating Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 6-3, 6-3.

Alexandre Rotsaert defeated Mohammed Bellalouna of Tunisia 6-2, 6-3 and DJ Thomas needed only 48 minutes to get by Siddhant Banthia of India.  Alafia Ayeni also advanced to the second round, defeating Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Other seeded boys to fall Sunday were No. 9 Michael Vrebensky of the Czech Republic, who was beaten by Naoki Tajima of Japan 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 and No. 16 seed Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi of Argentina, who fell to French wild card Jaimee Floyd Angele 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

In addition to 19 Americans in action in singles on Labor Day, doubles will also begin, with all 16 boys first round matches and nine girls first round matches.  The top seeded boys team is Yibing Wu of China and Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan.  The No. 1 seeds in the girls draw are Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.

Sunday's first round junior results for Americans:

Alexandre Rotsaert def. Mohamed Ali Bellalouna(TUN) 6-2, 6-3
Hugo Gaston(FRA) def. Lukas Greif 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Jurij Rodionov(AUT)[3] def. Brian Cernoch 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4
Simon Carr(IRL) def. Sangeet Sridhar 7-6(0), 6-4
DJ Thomas def. Siddhant Banthia(IND) 6-1, 6-2
Yu Hsiou Hsu(TPE)[8] def. Brian Shi 6-4, 6-4
Alafia Ayeni def. Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine(FRA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Sam Riffice def. Yuta Shimizu(JPN)[4] 6-3, 6-2
Yshai Oliel(ISR) def. Ryan Goetz 6-4, 6-4
Uisung Park(KOR) def. Gianni Ross 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Natasha Subhash def. Thaisa Pedretti(BRA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Katie Volynets def. Emily Appleton(GBR)[13] 6-4, 6-4
Elena Rybakina(RUS)[3] def. Ellie Douglas 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-0
Xiyu Wang(CHN) def. Salma Ewing 6-2, 6-1
Marie Carle(ARG) d. Taylor Johnson[7] 6-3, 7-5
Lea Boskovic(CRO) def. Hailey Baptiste 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Lulu Sun(SUI) def. Ann Li[11] 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Kamila Rakhimova(RUS) def. Abigail Forbes 6-4, 7-6(4)
Amanda Anisimova[4] def. Maria Portillo Ramirez(MEX) 6-3, 6-3
Sofya Lansere(RUS) def. Hurricane Tyra Black 6-3, 7-5
Mihaela Marculescu(ROU) def. Angelica Blake 6-4, 6-3

Monday's first round junior matches featuring Americans:

Whitney Osuigwe[1] v Margaryta Bilokin(UKR)
Vasil Kirkov v Toru Horie(JPN)
Brandon Nakashima v Matheus Pucinelli de Almedida(BRA)
Sebastian Korda v Jack Draper(GBR)
Victoria Flores v Paula Arias Manjon(ESP)
Oliver Crawford[11] v Aidan McHugh(GBR)
Yuki Nato(JPN) v Elysia Bolton
Kelly Chen v Monica Cappelletti(ITA)
Coco Gauff v Draginja Vukovic(SRB)
Axel Nefve v Jesper De Jong(NED)
Viktoriia Dema(UKR) v Caty McNally
Mihika Yadav(IND) v Nikki Redelijk
Patrick Kypson[12] v George Loffhagen(GBR)
Alina Charaeva(RUS) v Sofia Sewing[9]
Trey Hilderbrand v Alexey Zakharov(RUS)
Nick Hardt(DOM) v Trent Bryde[7]
Emil Ruusuvuori(FIN) v Govind Nanda
Dalayna Hewitt v Daria Frayman(RUS)
Axel Geller(ARG)[1] v Andrew Fenty

All Americans in action in the men's and women's singles draws Sunday advanced to the quarterfinals, with three more women attempting to join them Monday.

Sunday’s 4th round results for Americans
VENUS WILLIAMS[9] def. Carla Suarez Navarro(ESP) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
SAM QUERREY[17] def. Mischa Zverev(GER)[23] 6-2, 6-2, 6-1
SLOANE STEPHENS def. Julia Goerges(GER) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1

Monday’s 4th round matches featuring Americans
JENNIFER BRADY v Karolina Pliskova(CZE)[1]
COCO VANDEWEGHE[20] v Lucie Safarova(CZE)
Elina Svitolina(UKR)[4] v MADISON KEYS[15]

For more on Sunday's pro results, see the US Open website.


Truth said...

Collette- can you comment on the Boyer default at the US Open?

Colette Lewis said...

I covered it in my Saturday post