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Monday, December 18, 2017

Coleman and Kalieva Meet for Junior Orange Bowl G14s Title; Top Seed Bernard Seeks Revenge in B14s Final; Basavareddy Beat Top Seed to Advance to B12s Championship

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Coral Gables FL--

The girls 14s Junior Orange Bowl final will be an all-American battle after No. 9 seed Ellie Coleman and unseeded Elvina Kalieva reached Tuesday's championship match in contrasting fashion.  Top seed Alexander Bernard will face No. 2 seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan in the boys 14s final and No. 3 seed Nishesh Basavareddy will take on Japan's Lennon Jones for the boys 12s title after Basavareddy overcame top seed Alexander Blockx of Belgium in a three-hour battle at Salvadore Park.

Coleman needed only an hour to defeat Dariya Radulova of Bulgaria, a No. 17 seed, 6-0, 6-0, with Coleman playing her aggressive game well and Radulova having difficulty staying in the points.

"I knew a little bit about how she played and so I just went out there to execute what I could do to the best of my ability," said the 14-year-old from Midland Michigan. "That's what ending up working."

Coleman, who was playing indoor tournaments in the Midwest before coming to Florida for the America's Cup at the USTA National Campus last week, said she has been concentrating more on her development than her results.

"I try not to focus on the result at all," Coleman said. "I just try to focus on giving a perfect effort on every point, never giving up and doing everything in my ability to give my best."

Coleman, who reached the finals of the USTA 14s Clay Courts last year, agreed that she will be playing in one of the biggest matches of her career on Tuesday.

"I'll try to put that aside and try to focus on my side of the court," Coleman said.

In contrast to Coleman, Kalieva needed over three hours to get by Mara Guth of Germany, a No. 9 seed. 

The 14-year-old, who is from New York but has been in Florida for the past four years, served for the match at 5-4 in the second and 5-3 in the third set, but managed to overcome her failure to convert either of those opportunities.

"She was pretty tough and she was getting everything back," said Kalieva, who was up 3-0 and serving in the second set, but couldn't close it out in straight sets, with Guth breaking at 30-40 when Kalieva served for the match at 5-4. "I had to be more aggressive, but I pulled it out in the third set somehow."

Kalieva was down an early break at 2-1, but got it back in the next game. She broke with a forehand winner on the line to go up 5-3, and took a 40-15 lead in that game, but Kalieva double faulted on her first match point and hit a nervous looping backhand way long on the second.

After winning that game for 5-4, Guth was unable to keep the pressure on Kalieva, who stepped up her game to earn three more match points at 0-40.  This time Kalieva was able to close, with Guth hitting a forehand wide to earn a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4 victory.

Kalieva said she wasn't surprised she didn't receive a seed, having played 18s most of the year, but coming back down to the 14s for this tournament was a high priority.

"It was always my dream to win Orange Bowl," said Kalieva, who reached the quarterfinals in the 12s two years ago. "So I thought I'd sign up for 14s and see how it goes."

Kalieva and Coleman are good friends, but have not played except in practice.

"She's pretty aggressive," said Kalieva. "So it should be fun."

In the boys 14s final, Bernard is looking to reverse the result of the Eddie Herr championship match, which Mochizuki won 6-3, 6-2.

"I'm going to try to make him play a lot, really work the points, wait for my opportunities and use them when I get them," said Bernard, who overcame a slow start against No. 7 seed Alvaro Guillen Meza of Ecuador to post a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory. "Last time, I had some chances right at the beginning, but didn't really take them, and he just took over a little bit."

Against Guillen, Bernard fell behind 3-0, losing his first two service games, but recovered to take a 5-4 lead.  Guillen saved two set points serving at 5-4 and one serving at 5-6, but managed to force the tiebreaker. It was high quality and entertaining to the scores of fans gathered around Court 1 of the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, with lobs, drop shots, volleys, as well impressive ground strokes, often on the same point.  But a double fault put Guillen down 5-2, and after saving one more set point with a backhand pass, Guillen succumbed, with Bernard blasting a forehand winner to end the tiebreaker. 

The second set swung Bernard's way quickly and once he got a second break to go up 4-2, the fight went out of Guillen.

"He plays pretty intense, so I think [the loss of the tiebreaker] took a little bit of the intensity away from him," said the 14-year-old left-hander, who is from Naples Florida. "It made it a little bit easier to win the points, there were shorter points, and he kind of went away a little bit."

Mochizuki was on the ropes in the quarterfinals against Leo Borg Sunday, down 4-3 in the third with Borg serving, but in Monday's semifinal against unseeded Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil, Mochizuki was control in his 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Bernard has seen for himself what Mochizuki's strengths are.

"He's really good at taking the balls on the rise and he has good volleys," Bernard said. "He takes a lot of time away and is able to close at the net really well."

Like the girls 14s semifinals, the girls 12s semifinals featured one quick match and one ultra-competitive one.  Top seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic defeated No. 8 seed Clervie Ngounoue 6-1, 6-0, while No. 3 seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines outlasted No. 2 seed Sofia Costoulas of Belgium 7-5, 7-6(3).  Costoulas led 5-2 in the first set, only to see Eala storm back to win five straight games. In the deciding tiebreaker, Eala, a left-hander, was able to dictate with her forehand, closing it out on her second match point with a forehand winner.

Eala lost in the Eddie Herr 12s semifinals to Fruhvirtova's younger sister Brenda, the eventual Eddie Herr champion, who could not play Junior Orange Bowl due to a change of rules denying entry to 10-year-olds. Linda lost in the Eddie Herr 14s final to Vivian Ovrootsky.

At the boys 12s at Salvadore Park, Basavareddy ousted top seed Blockx 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the final against No. 7 seed Jones. According to observers, the match was a classic, but Jones will have the advantage in Tuesday morning's final, as he needed much less energy to defeat unseeded Nahuel Nicolas Eli of Argentina 6-4, 6-2.  Jones reached the Eddie Herr 12s final earlier this month, falling to Juncheng Shang, who had to withdraw from this Junior Orange Bowl in the fourth round due to an injury. Basavareddy lost to Shang in the Eddie Herr semifinals.

The boys 12s, girls 12s and girls 14s finals are scheduled for 9 a.m., with the boys at Salvadore Park and the girls at the University of Miami. The boys 14s final is set to begin not before 11 a.m.

The consolation finals, for fifth place, are also on tap Tuesday, with the pairings below.

Boys 14s:
Dali Blanch[Q](USA) vs Joel Pierleoni[8](GBR)

Girls 14s:
Kailey Evans[7](USA) vs Madison Sieg[17](USA)

Boys 12s:
Cooper Williams[5](USA) vs Rodrigo Pachecho Mendez[4](MEX)

Girls 12s:
Mio Mushika(JPN) vs Priya Nelson[7](USA)

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.