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Friday, January 4, 2019

Ma, Ravichander Take 18s Winter Nationals Titles, Maslova, Casper Earn 16s Championships; Brooksby, Kypson, Holt Reach M25 Semis; Giron and Redlicki Advance at Orlando Challenger

The USTA Winter Nationals concluded today in Lake Nona Florida with 15-year-old Connie Ma and 16-year-old Ishaan Ravichander taking the 18s titles on the hard courts of the USTA's National Campus.  Ma, seeded No. 4, defeated No. 3 seed and Orlando-area resident Alana Wolfberg 6-4, 6-0, while Ravichander, seeded 17, outlasted No. 9 seed Zachery Lim 7-6(2), 6-3.

Ma started slowly against Wolfberg, falling behind 3-0 to start, with Wolfberg having to do very little to win points other than wait for an unforced error from Ma. But Ma rebounded to win the next three games, eliminating the errors and perhaps adjusting to the breezy conditions that had both players frequently catching their service tosses. Wolfberg saved a break point to hold serve in the next game to take a 4-3 lead, but that was the last game she would win; with Ma now dialed in on her ground strokes, she took the final nine games of the match to earn the gold ball.
The first set of the boys final between Ravichander and Lim took nearly as long as the 1 hour and 24 minute girls final, with Lim missing two chances to take the set with Ravichander serving at 4-5 in the first set. Lim made unforced errors at both 15-40 and 30-40 in that game, with Ravichander taking four straight points to make it 5-5 and after two holds, both in deuce games, the set went to a tiebreaker. Ravichander went up early in the tiebreaker, with Lim making the key errors while Ravichander remained steady.

In the second set, Ravichander's consistency advantage continued and he took a 5-1 lead.  He was unable to close out the title on his first attempt however, netting a forehand with the advantage in a two-deuce game, and Lim held for 5-3, to force Ravichander to serve out the match. He got a second match point at 40-30 and he converted it, with Lim netting a forehand to give Ravichander the gold ball.

In the 16s, which were played on the National Campus's Har-Tru courts, No. 5 seed Luke Casper defeated No. 13 seed Quinn Snyder 7-6(5), 6-4 for the boys singles gold ball, while No. 8 seed Nadejda Maslova defeated top seed Leyden Games 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to take the girls title.

Ma was the only player to also claim a doubles title this week. Ma and Anna Campana, seeded No. 15, defeated No. 4 seeds Allie Gretkowski and Anna Ross 6-4, 6-2 in the 18s girls final.

No. 10 seeds Jeremie Casabon and Henry Ruger defeated unseeded Hunter Heck and JJ Tracy 6-4, 6-1 for the boys 18s doubles title.

No. 14 seeds Samir Banerjee and Louis Cloud[14] beat No. 12 seeds Jacob Bickersteth and Billy Suarez 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 for the boys 16s doubles title.

Top seeds Ava Catanzarite and Avery Durham won the girls 16s doubles gold ball, beating No. 4 seeds Carrie Beckman and Emma Charney 6-4, 6-3.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

At the ITF M25 in Los Angles, Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby continued his impressive run, beating top seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-0 in just 68 minutes. Brooksby, who had needed nearly three hours to beat Brandon Nakashima on Thursday, saving two match points, will face wild card Brandon Holt in the semifinals.  Holt defeated Daniel Nguyen 6-4, 6-2. Another Kalamazoo champion, 2017 18s winner Patrick Kypson, reached the semifinals, with the No. 4 seed beating No. 5 seed Martin Redlicki 7-6(2), 6-4. Kypson faces No. 2 seed Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, who defeated Govind Nanda 6-4, 7-6(6).

While the Winter Nationals were wrapping up today at the National Campus, the ATP 80 Orlando Challenger was continuing on the facility's college courts.  Two former American collegians have advanced to the semifinals, with unseeded Marcos Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion, defeating No. 14 seed Mathias Bourgue of France 6-2, 6-2 and unseeded Michael Redlicki, who played at Duke and then Arkansas, beating Ulises Blanch 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(3).  Redlicki will face top seed Darian King of Barbados in the semifinals, while Giron takes on No. 12 seed Gastao Elias of Portugal.

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