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Monday, September 3, 2018

Seeds Noel and McNally Pull Out Dramatic Wins; Brooksby Comes Back to Advance as First Round Concludes at US Open Junior Championships

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

No. 5 seed Caty McNally was physically ill on court, No. 2 seed Alexa Noel said she never felt worse during a match, but both managed tense come-from-behind first round victories on a scorching Labor Day at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Noel was trailing 2-5 in the second set against Yasmine Mansouri of France after dropping the first set 7-5, and when she felt a tightening in her stomach, and she looked disengaged mentally, admitting she felt like she was "done." But somehow, she managed to take the final five games, running down a drop shot and executing a perfect dipping crosscourt pass to get the break and then holding serve to even the match.

Noel had the benefit of a large crowd that gathered around Court 5 in the hours prior to the Ashe night session, and she admitted the atmosphere, which including streaming and Hawkeye, motivated her as she navigated her comeback, raising her arms to urge the crowd to get behind her after that pass for the break.

But in the third set, which began with six consecutive breaks of serve, Noel began to cramp in her calves, "with all the running I was doing," said the 15-year-old from New Jersey. But she didn't call a trainer, knowing that the ITF does not allow treatment for cramping, and played on.  After Mansouri held to finally end the string of breaks for 4-3, Noel saved two break points in a four-deuce game to hold for the first time in the set. Two easy holds later, Mansouri had a game point at 40-30, but a double fault was the first of three errors that gave Noel the break.

Holding wasn't a given, but she got first serves in, and held at 40-15 to end the two-hour and 54 minute match.

Mansouri gave her racquet an angry toss at the end of the match and after the hand shake went to her chair and continued her assault on it, smashing it and cutting herself on the hand in the process.

Noel was just happy to have survived.

"I'm going to be super honest and say I'm so tired," said Noel, who was still flushed and breathing heavily at her press conference, after coming into the media center directly after the match. "I didn't realize it was 90 plus today, and I think I could have been better prepared going onto the court."

McNally's 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Loudmilla Bencheikh of France came after she got sick on the court, at 3-4 in the second set, but the French Open girls finalist said she didn't consider retiring.

"I threw up about five times," said McNally, who said she had no other symptoms other than an upset stomach, and didn't know if the heat had anything to do with her illness. "Once I threw up, I started to feel better, so I just wanted to keep playing."

After the delay to clean up the court, McNally won the next three games, but she fell behind 3-0 and two breaks of serve in the third set, only to win the final six games of the match.

"I just told myself to keep playing my game," McNally said. "And just not give up."

While McNally, at age 16, is a veteran of junior slams, three girls earned their first junior slam victories today: qualifiers Emma Jackson and Hurricane Tyra Black and Elli Mandlik. The 15-year-old Jackson, playing in her first junior slam, and the 17-year-old Black, playing in her seventh, won in straight sets, with Jackson beating Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine, who had reached the final of the Grade 1 in Canada on Saturday, while Black took out fellow qualifier Victoria Kalaitzis of Belgium.

Mandlik, the daughter of Hana Mandlikova, who won the US Open women's championship back in 1985, got through her nerves in the middle of the first set in her 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 victory over No. 12 seed Joanna Garland of Taiwan.

"It was not easy, because it was my first grand slam main draw," said the 17-year-old Floridian. "So I was tight and everything. But when I was 6-5 up, I said, I don't want to regret this, being tight, so just play tennis you know."

Mandlik spoke to her coach, which is allowed in the junior event, mostly about her service toss, but her mother kept her distance during her daughter's junior slam debut.

"She was up in the stands," Mandlik said. "She hides because she stresses out. But she was happy, because she played here and I'm playing here now."

Mandlik said having a slam champion for a mother doesn't add pressure.

"I don't feel like it's pressure," said Mandlik, whose twin brother Mark also plays the ITF Junior Circuit. "She was good, so I'm going to try to be good, but if I don't make it, then whatever. Just because she was good, it doesn't mean I have to be good."

In addition to two US qualifiers advancing to the second round in the girls draw, two wild cards picked up their first junior slam victories. Keenan Mayo, a freshman at the University of Illinois, defeated Clement Tabur of France 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby came back to down qualifier Valentin Royer of France 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Brooksby, who lost to John Millman of Australia in the first round of the men's singles last Tuesday, said that the heat was worse that day.

"In the main draw, I felt it for sure, as did the other players," said the 17-year-old from Sacramento. "But now I'm more used to it. I didn't think it was a big deal today. I thought it was more humid and hotter Tuesday."

Brooksby, who had never played a junior slam before today, said he learned a lot during his days at the US Open as a member of the main draw.

"It's amazing coming to the US Open," Brooksby said. "Playing Futures, and other tournament like that, it's so much different from here. It's as good as it gets. It's amazing just to see the food, the fitness, the training, the crowds, everything was so cool to see. I got here early so I could get used it. It's amazing and really fun to see that atmosphere."

Brooksby said the main thing he learned from his 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 loss to Millman was the physical stamina necessary to succeed on the tour.

"I think experience and physicality are the biggest two things," Brooksby said of the difference between his opponent today and his opponent last Tuesday. "Obviously, he hit a bigger ball too, but I felt the physicality was the biggest difference. Every point, there's no breaks. You've got to play a good point every point."

Eight junior doubles matches were played Monday, and boys top seeds were among the three seeded boys teams going out in the first round.  Juan Cerundolo and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina beat No. 1 seeds Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil and Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan 6-2, 3-6, 10-6.  All three US girls teams, including two wild card teams, won their first round doubles matches.  The remaining 24 first round doubles matches are on the schedule for Tuesday, with only seven US juniors playing their second round singles matches.

Monday’s US Open junior first round singles matches featuring Americans:

Hugo Gaston[3](FRA) def. Neel Rajesh[WC] 6-1, 6-3
Keenan Mayo[WC] def. Clement Tabur(FRA) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
Nicolas Mejia[4](COL) def. Eliot Spizzirri[Q] 7-6(2), 6-2
Taisei Ichikawa(JPN) def. Andrew Fenty 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Daniel Michalski(POL) def. Drew Baird 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(5)
Arnaud Bovy(BEL) def. Axel Nefve[Q] 6-4, 7-5
Brandon Nakashima[14] def. Henri Squire[LL](GER) 7-6(4), 6-4
Emilio Nava def. Ondrej Styler(CZE) 6-4, 6-4
Nick Hardt(DOM) def. Govind Nanda[WC] 6-4. 7-6(8)
Jenson Brooksby[WC] def. Valentin Royer[Q](FRA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

Alexa Noel[2] def. Yasmine Mansouri(FRA) 5-7, 7-5, 7-5
Elizabeth Mandlik def. Joanna Garland[12](TPE) 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Emma Jackson[Q] def. Viktoriia Dema(UKR) 6-3, 6-3
Violet Apisah(PNG) def. Gabby Price 6-4, 7-6(3)
Dasha Lopatetskaya[Q](UKR) def. Connie Ma[WC] 7-5, 6-0
Caty McNally[5] def. Loudmilla Bencheikh(FRA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Qinwen Zheng[14](CHN) def. Fiona Crawley[WC] 7-6(4), 6-2
Daria Snigur[Q}(UKR) def. Katie Volynets[15] 6-3, 6-4
Naho Sato[9](JPN) def. Dalayna Hewitt 6-3, 6-2
Hurricane Tyra Black[Q] def. Victoria Kalaitzis[Q](BEL) 6-2, 6-4
Mananchaya Sawangkaew[Q](THA) def. Salma Ewing[WC] 7-5, 6-2

In the women's draw, 2017 finalist Madison Keys, seeded No. 14, has made her way into the quarterfinals, beating No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-3 in today's fourth round.

Tuesday's Americans in action at the US Open:

Sloane Stephens[3] vs Anastasija Sevastova[19](LAT)
Serena Williams[17] vs Karolina Pliskova[8](CZE)

John Isner[11] vs Juan Martin del Potro[3](ARG)

Lea Ma[16] vs Lenka Stara(SVK)
Coco Gauff[1] vs Selma Cadar(ROU)
Hailey Baptiste[WC] vs Oksana Selekhmeteva(RUS)

Cannon Kingsley vs Arnaud Bovy(BEL)
Trey Hilderbrand vs Henry Von Der Schulenburg[Q](SUI)
Emilio Nava vs Wojciech Marek[Q](POL)
Jenson Brooksby[WC] vs Jonas Forejtek(CZE)