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Monday, December 3, 2018

Khan Beats No. 4 Seed, Top Seeds Gauff and Andreev Advance as Heat Disrupts First Day at ITF Grade A Orange Bowl

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Plantation, FL--

Monday's opening day of play for the 18s at the ITF Grade A Orange Bowl had an unexpected delay, with matches halted for extreme heat at around 12:30 p.m. at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, and restarted two hours later, when the humidity had begun to drop.

The temperature was listed at 88, with a "feels like" of 94, but the measurement that is used by tournament officials is more nuanced than that, and the heat index temperature exceeded the required 104 degrees when the decision was made to suspend play. Few players, spectators or college coaches felt conditions warranted a suspension, but the ITF rule, new for 2018, required it.  My Tennis Recruiting Network interview with USTA tournament director Lew Brewer on this new rule, written shortly after the US Open Junior Championships were affected by it in September, explains the process in more detail.

Top seeds Coco Gauff of the US and Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria made it through in straight sets, although Andreev was close to going three, beating Chris Rodesch of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-6(9).  Gauff, who pulled out of the Eddie Herr after winning the doubles title with Hurricane Tyra Black at the Grade in Yucatan two weeks ago, defeated Diana Khodan of Ukraine 6-1, 6-2 in a late afternoon match on Stadium court.

Of the 10 boys seeds playing first round matches Monday, eight won, with No. 9 seed Tyler Zink falling to Andrew Paulson of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-1 and No. 4 seed Deney Wassermann of the Netherlands losing to wild card Zane Khan 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3.

Khan, who reached the quarterfinals of last week's Eddie Herr Grade 1 before retiring with a right shoulder injury, said he was close to withdrawing before the start of today's match.

"I hurt my shoulder warming up in the quarterfinals last week," said the Kalamazoo Nationals 16s finalist. "I was hitting serves and I started to feel so much pain. Since Eddie Herr, I was completely off, I didn't practice at all, and I was really close to retiring before this match. I still felt pain in my shoulder, on hitting serves again and on my forehand and backhand. Tomorrow's a day off, so I'll try to rest, ice, go to the trainer again."

Khan had never played Wassermann before, but the powerfully built right-hander with a one-handed backhand is an intimidating presence on the court.

"I saw him play a little at the US Open, so I knew he was really tall, and played really aggressive," Khan said. "I knew it was going to be tough."

Khan did his best to attack the one-handed backhand on the occasions when he had control of the point.

"Once I got into the match, I felt his backhand was pretty erratic," Khan said. "He would hit a winner, or he was going to miss after a few balls. So I tried my hardest to get every ball back, especially on his service games, try to chunk it up, lob, try to get in the points, and it paid off in the third set in that one break."

Khan double faulted twice serving for the match at 5-3, but down 15-30, he came up with an ace for 30-all. Wassermann shanked a forehand return on the next point, and Khan closed out the win with a good first serve.

"I'm happy with the way I'm playing," Khan said. After dealing with blisters on his feet that inhibited his movement, Khan said he has learned how to deal with that problem now, including orthotics and a taping regimen. "The main thing is I'm able to start moving now, so that's helped out a lot. I've learned how to take care of it now, after Kalamazoo."

Three of the nine girls seeds in action Monday were defeated. No. 16 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan lost to wild card Emma Jackson 7-6(5), 6-2; No. 15 seed Yasmine Mansouri of France was beaten by wild card Robin Montgomery 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2; and No. 13 seed Chloe Beck lost to Caijsa Hennemann of Sweden 6-1, 6-3.

Thirty-six of the 64 first round 18s singles matches were played Monday, with 28 more on Tuesday's schedule.

The first round of singles and doubles in the 16s division were completed today, with the top 8 girls seeds all advancing to the second round.  The boys field has lost three of its top 8 seeds, with No. 5 seed Max McKennon, No. 6 seed Juan Dominguez Collado of Guatemala and No. 7 seed Spencer Brachman out in the first round.  Top seed Dali Blanch won his opener in straight sets today. Yesterday, girls top seed Kailey Evans beat Karina Miller 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Tuesday's action begins at 8 a.m. with the second round of 16s singles, followed by the remaining first round 18s singles matches. The first round of 18s doubles will be played, with Gauff and Black the No. 1 seeds in the girls draw and Andreev and Anton Matusevich of Great Britain the No. 1 seeds in the boys draw.  The second round of 16s doubles is also scheduled for Tuesday.

For the draws and order of play, see the tournament website. Live scoring is available here.