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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Long Island's Kingsley Rides Home Support to First US Open Win; Top Seeds Gauff and Tseng Start Strong

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Cannon Kingsley lives about 45 minutes from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and has spent many a late summer week at the US Open. But the 17-year-old from Long Island had his first chance to play in the tournament today, and with help from a loud group of about 50 family and friends, picked up his first win, beating No. 9 seed Gilbert Soares Klier Junior of Brazil 6-2, 6-3.

"I've been coming here since I was like probably six years old, seven years old, every year," Kingsley said. "This is the first year I've played, so everyone's like wow, he's playing this year. So there's a lot of people texting me, calling me, wanting tickets. It was really stressful leading up to the Open, but now I'm here and a little more relaxed."

Having a group of 50 or so family and friends hanging on every point could add extra pressure, but Kingsley said for him, it was the opposite.

"I don't think I've ever had that many people at a match before," said Kingsley, who has committed to join Ohio State in the fall of 2019. "I would expect to be a little more nervous, but I think it calmed me down a little bit, seeing all my family and friends I've know my entire life watching, it was pretty amazing. They just pushed me through; I had a couple of tough service games, but I never got broken. I was down 15-40 a couple of times, and rallied for those games. He got a little tight, I think because there were so many people cheering for me. It was kind of a blur, the whole match."

Kingsley didn't play either of the ITF Grade 1 warmup tournaments, a decision he said was based on his disappointing play at Kalamazoo, where he lost in the third round.

"It was probably the worst tournament I played all year," said Kingsley, who trains at Christopher Morley Tennis on the north shore of Long Island. "I said, wow, I have to get better, I just can't be playing in these tournaments all the time. I just had to get my confidence back. I trained really hard the last three weeks and made so many improvements and that was so key for me, just going home and training."

Kingsley hadn't played Klier, who won the Grade 1 in College Park Maryland just over a week ago, but he was able to get some scouting reports from friends who had.

"He's played a couple of my friends so I asked around for some tips," Kingsley said. "I'd seen him play once, at Roland Garros, but I knew he was from Brazil and a clay court guy, even though he did win College Park. I came into the match with a pretty set strategy and I just followed through on that. I didn't have to change much."

When Kingsley won, the reaction of his supporters, including a standing ovation with applause, shouts and whistles, caught the attention of passersby, who aren't accustomed to hearing so much excitement on the outside junior courts, especially at this stage of the tournament.

Kingsley is hoping for similar support on Tuesday for his second round match, although he acknowledges that will require another financial commitment from his supporters.

"If all these people can get tickets again," Kingsley said. "You know it's expensive for these tickets, and we only get three credentials for family and friends."

Kingsley was one of just five US players to win their opening round matches Sunday, with 12 others dropping their first matches.  In the final round of qualifying, Axel Nefve defeated Erik Grevelius of Sweden 6-3, 6-2, successfully navigating the tricky task of beating one of the rare serve and volleyers on the junior tour.

The most successful serve and volleyer currently playing ITF junior circuit events is Trey Hilderbrand, who made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon unseeded and today added to his junior slam victory totals with a 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2 victory over No. 12 seed Tao Mu of China.  At 5-5 in the first set tiebreaker, Hilderbrand got a mini-break with a backhand winner, and on set point, hit two volleys within inches of the baseline to collect the first set.  Mu started the second set with a early break and didn't falter, but it was Hilderbrand who got the early break in the third set, and he extended his lead to 5-1 before closing out the match on his second match point with a strong first serve.

Top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan lost the first two games to 15-year-old wild card Toby Kodat, but won the last 12 games of the match to put his junior slam winning streak at 13, after titles in Paris and London.

2017 girls US Open finalist Coco Gauff, the top seed this year, had a tough match with Lulu Sun of Switzerland, but came through with a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Wild card Hailey Baptiste and No. 16 seed Lea Ma were the other two US girls posting first round wins.

US Juniors in singles action Sunday:

Final Round Qualifying: Axel Nefve def. Erik Grevelius(SWE)  6-3 6-2
Final Round Qualifying: Valentin Royer[1](FRA) def. Alexander Bernard[WC] 6-4, 6-2
Trey Hilderbrand def. Tao Mu[12](CHN) 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2
Lorenzo Musetti(ITA) def. Stefan Dostanic[WC] 6-4, 6-0
Thiago Seyboth Wild[6](BRA) def. Zane Khan[WC] 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-3
Chun Hsin Tseng[1](CHN) def. Toby Kodat[WC] 6-2, 6-0
Cannon Kingsley def. Gilbert Soares Klier Junior[9](BRA) 6-2, 6-3
Jesper De Jong(NED) def. Tristan Boyer[11] 6-1, 7-5
Timofei Skatov[5](KAZ) def. Martin Damm[WC] 6-2, 6-4
Dalibor Svrcina(CZE) def. Tyler Zink 6-3, 3-6, 6-2

Lea Ma[16] def. Francesca Curmi(MLT) 6-3, 6-4
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano[4](COL) def. Natasha Subhash 7-6(5), 7-5
Xiyu Wang[3](CHN) def. Emma Navarro[WC] 6-3, 6-3
Kamilla Rakhimova(RUS) def. Peyton Stearns 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Hailey Baptiste[WC] def. Ana Makatsaria(GEO) 6-2, 7-6(5)
Leylah Fernandez[8](CAN) def. Elysia Bolton[WC] 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Coco Gauf[1] def. Lulu Sun(SUI) 7-5, 6-3
Adrienn Nagy(HUN) def. Vanessa Ong[WC] 6-1, 6-3
Taisya Pachkaleva(RUS) def. Abigail Forbes[WC] 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-4

Doubles begin Monday with just four matches each for boys and girls. Gauff and Caty McNally are the top seeds in the girls doubles and Tseng and Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil are No. 1 seeds in the boys doubles.

Monday's first round matches featuring US juniors:

Neel Rajesh[WC] vs Hugo Gaston[3](FRA)
Keenan Mayo[WC] vs Clement Tabur(FRA)
Eliot Spizzirri[Q] vs Nicolas Mejia[4](COL)
Andrew Fenty vs Taisei Ichikawa(JPN)
Drew Baird vs Daniel Michalski(POL)
Axel Nefve[Q] vs Arnaud Bovy(BEL)
Brandon Nakashima[14] vs Joao Lucas Reis Da Silva(BRA)
Emilio Nava vs Ondrej Styler(CZE)
Govind Nanda[WC] vs Nick Hardt(DOM)
Jenson Brooksby[WC] vs Valentin Royer[Q](FRA)

Alexa Noel[2] vs Yasmine Mansouri(FRA)
Elizabeth Mandlik vs Joanna Garland[12](TPE)
Emma Jackson[Q] vs Viktoriia Dema(UKR)
Gabby Price vs Violet Apisah(PNG)
Connie Ma[WC] vs Dasha Lopatetskaya[Q](UKR)
Caty McNally[5] vs Loudmilla Bencheikh(FRA)
Fiona Crawley[WC] vs Qinwen Zheng[14](CHN)
Katie Volynets[15] vs Daria Snigur(UKR)
Dalayna Hewitt vs Naho Sato[9](JPN)
Hurricane Tyra Black[Q] vs Victoria Kalaitzis[Q](BEL)
Salma Ewing[WC] vs Mananchaya Sawangkaew[Q](THA)

In men's and women's singles today, Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and John Isner advanced to the quarterfinals with victories. Isner, the former University of Georgia star, is making his first appearance in the US Open quarterfinals since 2011.

Sunday’s fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Serena Williams[17] def. Kaia Kanepi(EST) 6-0, 4-6, 6-3
Sloane Stephens[3] def. Elise Mertens[15](BEL) 6-3, 6-3
John Isner[11] def. Milos Raonic[25](CAN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

Monday’s fourth round match featuring an American:

Madison Keys[14] vs Dominika Cibulkova[29](SVK)