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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nava Takes Down Top Seed and Defending Champion Andreev at Eddie Herr ITF; Khan, Mandlik and Noel Also Advance to Quarterfinals; Friday's Semifinals Set in 12s, 14s, 16s Divisions

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Another chilly Florida day couldn't cool off No. 16 seed Emilio Nava, who defeated top seed and defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-5 Thursday afternoon in the third round of the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr Championships at the IMG Academy.

The match, played on the Har-Tru stadium courts, began to draw a crowd late in the first set, with both players holding serve until Nava earned break points with Andreev serving at 5-6. At 15-40, Andreev double faulted to give Nava the first set, and as word of a possible upset spread, the crowd on the porch overlooking the court got even larger.

Nava never strayed from his strategy of taking big risks with his forehand and going for his first serves, although that had less to do with his scouting of Andreev and more to do with his game style.

"We knew a decent amount about his game, his serve isn't the best, he's not going to ace me," said Nava, who turns 17 on Sunday. "I just knew I had to stay solid, focus on myself, and stay positive. He's really solid from the ground, he's not going to miss a ball, so I knew I had to start dictating with my forehand. I gained a little bit of confidence and started going for more and more, and it went my way. I think most players here know I hit pretty hard and I go pretty big, go for the risks. When I go for the shots, I either make them by that much (showing thumb and forefinger an inch apart) or miss them by this much (repeats gesture). But no, today I played pretty good."

Nava said his wins on the Pro Circuit this fall, including a victory over an ATP Top 300 player in qualifying of a Challenger, have given him a boost now that he is back playing junior events.

"It's always been a dream to have a first ATP point," said Nava, who has three from Futures wins in California this fall. "Now that I have it, it's pretty big and I take that on to these courts. If I can compete with those guys, I can compete with these guys. It helps a lot for the confidence."

The first half of the second set played out much like the first, although Nava was having more difficulty holding serve. At 3-3, he won a long deuce game on his first game point, then broke Andreev for a 5-3 lead.

"I probably saved like nine or ten break points and I didn't have one game point," said Nava, who still kept hitting out, even under that constant pressure. "Of course I was happy that I was saving them, but at the same time, I was just come on dude, just win the deuce point and you can get the game. I guess I kept my cool, although I definitely felt a bit frustrated. But I won the game and that gave me a nice boost in the next game and I broke him."

Serving for the match at 5-3, Nava could not find a first serve, but after saving a break point with a forehand winner for deuce, he got a good first serve in that Andreev could not handle to earn a match point. He netted a backhand after some great defense from Andreev however,  then missed another backhand long on break point, and dropped serve for the first time in the match.

Andreev won the next game at love, but Nava put aside the missed match point on his next service game, hitting three aces, two on of the let-serve variety, to take a 6-5 lead.

With Andreev serving at 5-6, 30-all, Nava again refused to dial back his aggressive play, blasting a forehand winner to earn his second match point. Andreev missed his first serve, but hit an excellent second serve deep. Nava returned it, and Andreev's next shot hit just past the baseline at Nava's feet. Nava immediately called it out, and Andreev asked for the roving umpire to check the mark, and he agreed with Nava's call, ending the match.

As a Southern Californian, Nava doesn't have much opportunity to practice on clay, but before these three major ITF events on green clay, he spent two weeks training at the Juan Carlos Ferrero
Equelite Tennis Academy near Caliente Spain.

"My brother (Eduardo) went there when he was 16 and we have a friend who is really good friends with the head of tennis there," Nava said. "It's tough to train in LA, there's not that many clay courts, not that many players. So I came to the decision that I wanted to go there, especially to train on clay with the best coaches and the best players."

Nava said his improvement over the past year can be traced to several factors.

"The first is the physical aspect," said Nava, now around 6-foot-1. "I grew a lot and that improved my serve. On the court, I'm more consistent for sure. Back then I was just going for my shots, crazy undisciplined and now I have a little more structure in my game."

Nava gives credit to clay for helping him with that part of the game.

"Clay slows the ball down a lot, so when you rip it, the guy still has a chance to get there," said Nava, who lost to the eventual champion in the third round of the Grade A in Yucatan last week. "I'm hitting like three winners on one point."

Nava will face unseeded Mateus Alves of Brazil in Friday's quarterfinals. Alves defeated unseeded Jacob Fearnley of Great Britain 6-1, 6-4. The other quarterfinal in the top half will feature qualifier Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil against No. 7 seed Valentin Royer of France. Royer defeated No. 9 seed Tyler Zink 6-3, 6-3.

The second US boy to reach the quarterfinals is unseeded Zane Khan, who advanced when Harry Wendelken of Great Britain retired trailing 6-3, 3-0.  Khan will face No. 3 seed Filip Jianu of Romania in the quarterfinals. The other bottom half quarterfinal has No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia taking on No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain. Matusevich beat No. 11 seed Govind Nanda 6-2, 7-6(3).

Top seed Alexa Noel and No. 5 seed Elli Mandlik are the US girls advancing to the quarterfinals. Mandlik outlasted No. 12 seed Loudmilla Bencheikh of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, while Noel came from a break down in the second set to beat No. 15 seed Yasmine Mansouri of France 6-2, 7-5.  Noel will face No. 6 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, who came back to beat Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).  Mandlik, who is also in the top half, will face Alice Tubello of France, who ended the run of qualifier Abigail Forbes 6-2, 6-1.

The bottom half of the girls draw will feature No. 9 seed and Yucatan champion Diane Parry of France against No. 16 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland.  Lulu Sun of Switzerland, the No. 8 seed, defeated unseeded Kylie Collins 6-3, 6-3 to advance to a meeting with No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China, who beat No. 13 seed Gabby Price 6-2, 6-1.

The doubles semifinals are also on Friday's schedule, with only one seeded team remaining: No. 8 seeds Taha Baadi of Canada and Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan.  Cleve Harper of Canada and Andres Martin beat No. 6 seeds Alves and Natan Rodrigues of Brazil 3-6, 6-4, 11-9 and will face Baadi and Mitsui for a spot in the final.  The other semifinal will be between Santiago De La Fuente and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina, who beat No. 5 seeds Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink 6-4, 4-6, 10-5, and Croatia's Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender.

The girls doubles semifinals have two seeded teams, with No. 1 seeds Lea Ma and Zheng in the top half, against Kacie Harvey and Natasha Subhash and No. 7 seeds Bartone and Diana Khodan of Ukraine in the bottom half against Anna Hertel of Poland and Mandlik.

The semifinals are set in the 12s, 14s and 16s, with the 16s playing two rounds of singles Thursday to catch up after rain on Monday set them back a day.

Only two of the No. 1 seeds remain in the six divisions: G16s' Madison Sieg and B12s' Rudy Quan.  Below are today's quarterfinal results. For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Boys 12s:

Rudy Quan[1](USA) d. Thomas Faurel[8](USA) 6-2, 6-1
Maximus Dussault[6](USA) d. Atakan Karahan [4](TUR) 6-2, 0-6, 10-4

Quang Duong[5](USA) d. Alexander Frusina[3](USA) 6-4, 6-4
Jinpeng Tang[15](CHN) d. Juan Kim(KOR) 6-0, 6-2

Boys 14s:

John Kim[5](USA) d. Kenta Nakamura[9](JPN) 6-3, 6-4
Togan Tokac[7](TUR) d. Adolfo Vallejo[4](PAR) 6-4, 6-0

Constantinos Koshis[3](CYP) d. Christophe Clement(CAN) 6-2, 6-2
Fnu Nidunjianzan[2](USA) d. Kyle Kang[6](USA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Boys 16s:

JJ Tracy[7](USA) d. Chak Lam Coleman Wong(HKG) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Haoyuan Huang(USA) d. Jack Anthrop[3](USA) 6-4, 6-4

Jacobi Bain(BAH) d. Bohua Dong[8](USA) 6-1, 6-0
Aleksandr Kalinin(BLR) d. Arda Azkara(TUR) 7-5, 6-2

Girls 12s:

Alexandra Azarko(BLR) d. Brooklyn Olson[1](USA) 7-6(8), 2-6, 10-8
Nawal Youssef(CAN) d. Sarah L'Allier[6](CAN) 6-4, 6-3

Sasha Situe[14](NZL) d. Natalia Perez[4](USA) 7-5, 6-3
Sara Saito(JPN) d. Onyu Choi(KOR) 3-6, 6-4, 10-6

Girls 14s:

Brenda Fruhvirtova[5](CZE) d. Kim Dainhee(KOR) 6-1, 6-2
Melisa Ercan[4](TUR) d. Alexis Blokhina[10](USA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

Clervie Ngounoue[6](USA) d. Lan Mi[9](CHN) 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5
Liv Hovde(USA) d. Marina Stakusic[2](CAN) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Girls 16s:

Madison Sieg[1](USA) d. Lara Schneider[15](USA) 6-4, 6-2
Mary Grace Armistead(USA) d. Abigail Rencheli[11](USA) 6-3, 6-4

Elise Wagle[16](USA) d. Jaleesa Leslie[8](USA) 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2
Elaine Chervinsky[2](USA) d. Savanna Kollock(USA) 6-2, 6-1