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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Nakashima Beats Top Seed Baird in ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships Third Round; Thirteen-Year-Old Montgomery Wins Again

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Carson, CA--

Top seed Drew Baird had survived two tough tests in his first and second round matches at the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships. In Tuesday's first round he defeated Toby Kodat 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 and in yesterday's second round, he saved a match point en route to defeating Cleeve Harper of Canada 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5. 

On Thursday, against No. 13 seed Brandon Nakashima, there was no such drama, with Nakashima needing just over an hour to earn a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

Baird's game style favors moving forward and finishing points quickly, which simply didn't work with Nakashima's passing shots on target all day.

"I definitely played pretty well today," said the 16-year-old from San Diego. "I think my consistent game matches up pretty well with his aggressive game. I know he's been playing well, he won a huge tournament at the end of last year, but yeah, I played well today."

Nakashima agreed that Baird's difficulties the past two days probably contributed to the lopsided loss.

"Probably a little bit, yeah," Nakashima said. "Anytime you play two back-to-back three-set matches you'll be a little tired the next day, and he's probably playing doubles right now."

Nakashima will face unseeded Cannon Kingsley, who advanced when No. 9 seed William Woodall retired trailing 6-1, 1-1.

"I know he's had a good couple of weeks," Nakashima said of Kingsley, who defeated No. 5 seed Emilio Nava on Wednesday. "He's won a lot of good matches the beginning of this year and he's been playing well. I'll probably have to play similar to today."

Nakashima defeated Kingsley last year in the third round en route to his Kalamazoo 16s title.

Although top seed Baird's luck ran out on Thursday, No. 2 seed Tristan Boyer continued to win matches the hard way, playing in his seventh consecutive three-set match, which included the final four matches at the Easter Bowl.  Boyer defeated unseeded Brian Shi 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 in a three-hour battle and will face another unseeded player, Jake Sands, in the quarterfinals.  Sands defeated unseeded Pierce Rollins 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.

No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty came back to eliminate unseeded 14-year-old Alexander Bernard 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and will face No. 8 seed Tyler Zink in the quarterfinals. Zink advanced when unseeded Aditya Gupta retired trailing 6-1, 3-1. 

The other boys quarterfinal will feature unseeded qualifier Stefan Dostanic and No. 7 seed Govind Nanda.  Nanda breezed past No. 12 seed Will Grant 6-1, 6-2 in just under an hour, and Dostanic beat unseeded Ronan Jachuk 6-3, 6-2.

The top two seeds in the girls draw, Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine and Natasha Subhash, advanced to the third round, with Bilokin beating No. 15 seed Skyler Grishuk 6-2, 6-4 and Subhash taking out No. 14 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada by the same score.  No. 3 seed Peyton Stearns was ousted however, losing to No. 13 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 6-4, 6-4. 

Black will face unseeded Kylie Collins, who defeated No. 8 seed Elli Mandlik 6-2, 6-4, and Subhash will play No. 7 seed Hailey Baptiste, who defeated No. 12 seed Niluka Madurawe 6-3, 6-2.

Bilokin's quarterfinal opponent is No. 10 seed Vanessa Ong, who defeated 14-year-old Connie Ma 6-1, 6-3.  Ong and Bilokin met last week in the round of 16 at the Easter Bowl, with Bilokin winning 6-1, 6-1.

Although Ma saw her run end today, another young player has extended her stay in Carson, with 13-year-old wild card Robin Montgomery defeating Fanni Gecsek of Hungary 6-3, 6-0.  With a third round loss last week in the Easter Bowl 16s and a first round loss at the ITF Grade 4 in Newport Beach two weeks ago, Montgomery wasn't expecting a quarterfinal appearance at her first Grade 1 tournament.

"Newport and the Easter Bowl weren't my best tennis," said the 2017 USTA National 14s champion.  "Coming into a third tournament, really tired, wanting to go home, it's pretty surprising how far I've made it and how I've been able to push through. I've definitely surprised myself at how much I can do when I'm tired and I miss my family."

Montgomery, a left-hander who looks much older than 13, admits she is short on experience, but she believes she has the capacity to compete mentally as well as physically.

"I may be a little below them mentally, because they have more experience than me, but if you take out the experience, I can definitely beat them," Montgomery said.

Montgomery will face No. 5 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland, who turns 18 later this month, in the quarterfinals. Drummy ended the winning streak of Easter Bowl champion Katie Volynets with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over the No. 9 seed.

In doubles quarterfinal action Thursday afternoon, top seeds Baird and Woodall were defeated by No. 5 seeds Nava and Axel Nefve 6-3, 7-6(5). 

The semifinals are set for Friday in the 16s division, after another day of straight-sets matches in the boys draw.

Top seed Spencer Brachman defeated Evan Wen 6-2, 6-2 and will face No. 3 seed Zachery Lim, who beat Muhammed Dossani 6-3, 6-4.  No. 5 seed Max McKennon, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over John Kim, will take on unseeded Ishaan Ravichander in the other semifinal.  Ravichander defeated Max Fardanesh 6-4, 6-2.

One unseeded player also remains in the girls 16s semifinals, with Anne Lutkemeyer Obregon advancing with a 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 7 seed Rachel Gailis. Lutkemeyer will face No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta-Kynoch, who came from a set down for the second straight day, this time defeating Daniella Benabraham 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.  The other girls semifinal will feature No. 5 seed Maryam Ahmad and No. 8 seed Velizara Fileva of Bulgaria.  Ahmad defeated No. 16 seed India Houghton, the Easter Bowl finalist, 6-3 6-3 and Fileva took out No. 4 seed Madison Sieg 6-4, 6-4.

The first championship trophies of the week will be awarded on Friday afternoon, with the 16s doubles finals on the schedule.

Unseeded Allura Zamarripa and Maribella Zamarripa, who won the Easter Bowl title last Saturday, will face No. 4 seeds Ahmad and Lina Mohamed for the girls 16s doubles title.

Top seeds Hunter Heck and McKennon will play the Thai team of Possawat Akarapan and Phuwish Lee, the No. 5 seeds, for the boys 16s doubles title.

See the tournament website for complete results and the order of play.