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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Akli Advances to Quarterfinals at College Park Grade 1 on Home Courts; Brooksby, Townsend Reach Final Round of Qualifying at US Open

©Colette Lewis 2019--
College Park, MD--

Ayana Akli is scheduled to move into the dorms at the nearby University of Maryland on Friday, but she could have another equally pressing engagement: playing in her first ITF Grade 1 semifinal.

Akli is just one win away from rescheduling her move, with the 18-year-old, who grew up at the Junior Tennis Champions Center, earning victories today in both singles and doubles.

Akli, whose father Oliver is a coach at the JTCC, has played the Prince George's County ITF five times, losing twice in qualifying and picking up her first main draw win last year before falling to eventual champion Katie Volynets. Today, she defeated No. 5 seed Savannah Broadus 6-3, 6-2 after beating No. 10 seed Annerly Poulos of Australia 6-4, 6-1 in the first round.

"I think my game has definitely improved, but not just my game, but the mental aspect of it," Akli said. "I'm just more calm, I'm not as nervous. I'm playing and having fun with it, trusting what my dad and what coaches Ali (Agnamba), Taka (Bertrand) and Megan (Moulton-Levy) have taught. I think I've been playing pretty much the same way for a while, but I think it's more of the confidence that's helped me."

Against Broadus, Akli was able to keep Broadus from dictating play.

"I think I was just making balls back, with heavy spin," said Akli. "I had her on the run the entire time. I don't think she was expecting me to get as many balls back as I did. I think was returning pretty well, that's what we've been working on. I missed a few, but I adjusted and did what I've been told."

Akli decided to sign with Maryland, who play their home indoor matches at the JTCC, last spring, primarily because they offered her the opportunity to pursue her interest in engineering while competing on the tennis team.

"I didn't really want to go that close, but they really were one of the only places that were Division I that would let me do the major I wanted to do, which is engineering," Akli said. "A lot of the Division I places, with engineering plus tennis, especially with the labs, it interferes with practice. But my coach Katie (Dougherty), she was excited for me to come and I just felt really welcome and that she was going to help me figure out our schedule and work with me, which I really appreciate."

Akli will face No. 3 seed Priska Nugroho of Indonesia, who saved two match points serving at 5-6 in the third set and went on to defeat qualifier Neha Velaga 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).

The other JTCC girl in the third round, No. 13 seed Robin Montgomery, lost to No. 2 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Bartone plays No. 9 seed Liubov Kostenko of Ukraine, who beat No. 7 seed Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong 7-5, 6-2.

No. 4 seed Abigail Forbes defeated No. 16 seed Ana Geller of Argentina 7-5, 6-1 and will face No. 6 seed Adrienn Nagy of Hungary, who beat unseeded Charlotte Chavatipon 6-1, 7-6(5).
Like Akli, the other unseeded girls quarterfinalist is also an American, with Madison Sieg defeating No. 11 seed Darja Semenistaja of Latvia 6-1, 6-2.

Although the heat wave moderated slightly today, temperatures still approached 90 degrees, which is just fine with Sieg.

"I actually like the humid conditions," said Sieg, who prefers that to the weather in San Diego, where she played in the Nationals two weeks ago. "In between, I was in Florida, so I got to practice in the humidity too. I think part of it is psychological, because some people don't like playing in the heat, they get tired. I have good stamina on the court and I just feel if the ball is a little heavier, it suits me better."

Sieg, the reigning 16s Orange Bowl champion, capitalized on an off-day from Semenistaja.

"It was breezy when I played, so I just tried to stay smart with my targets," said the 16-year-old, who had played her first two matches at the other site. "She made a lot of errors, so the big targets were part of that."

Sieg will face No. 15 seed Mai Nirundorn of Thailand, who beat unseeded Ruth Marsh 6-2, 6-0.

Just two American boys advanced to the quarterfinals: Kalamazoo 16s champion Alex Bernard and Micah Braswell, both unseeded.

Bernard defeated unseeded Cash Hanzlik 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 and will face No. 15 seed Ryuhei Azuma of Japan, who beat No. 2 seed Peter Makk 6-4, 6-2.  Braswell, who beat unseeded Murphy Cassone 6-4, 6-4 will play top seed Flavio Cobolli of Italy, who defeated unseeded Jackson Ross 6-4, 6-4.  The possibility of an all-Italy semifinal exists with No. 16 seed Lorenzo Rottoli also advancing in the top half. The 17-year-old Rottoli saved two set points in the tiebreaker to beat Kalamazoo 16s finalist Aidan Mayo 6-3, 7-6(6) and will face No. 12 seed Harry Wendelken of Great Britain. Wendelken beat unseeded Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela 6-2, 1-6, 6-1.

Two other unseeded boys advanced to the quarterfinals and they will meet Thursday. Fifteen-year-old Coleman Wong of Hong Kong, the 2018 14s Junior Orange Bowl champion, defeated No. 8 seed Arthur Fery 6-2, 6-3 and Karlis Ozolins of Latvia beat unseeded Andrew Dale 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3).  During the third-set tiebreaker, with Ozolins leading 4-2, there was a dispute on a serve call that escalated from the roving umpire to the tournament referee. Ozolins was awarded the point by the referee, which angered Dale to the point of several audible obscenities and had him saying at one point that he was done, while sitting down in his chair. After no code violation was assessed for his outburst(correction: a code violation was assessed, but it was his 1st, so under ITF rules it was a warning), the referee asked Dale if he was going to continue, and he did return to play, but Ozolins closed out the match without further incident.

The quarterfinals in doubles are also scheduled for Thursday.  Akli and her partner Elise Wagle, who beat the top seeds on Tuesday, defeated Kylie Collins and Charlotte Owensby 6-4, 6-0 and will play another unseeded US team, Sieg and Elaine Chervinsky. Wimbledon girls doubles champions Broadus and Forbes, seeded No. 2, also advanced.

Bruno Kuzuhara and Victor Lilov, who beat the top seeds Tuesday night indoors, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Connor and Jake Krug. They will play unseeded Hanzlik and Benjamin Kittay Thursday. Braswell and Leighton Allen are the other Americans reaching the boys doubles quarterfinals.

Thursday's order of play and the complete draws can be found at the tournament website.

Day three of US Open qualifying featured only four Americans playing their second round matches, with 11 more scheduled for their second rounds on Thursday. Wild card Jenson Brooksby, the 2018 Kalamazoo 18s champion, defeated No. 27 seed and ATP 134 Yuichi Sugita of Japan 7-6(4), 7-6(3) to advance to the final round of qualifying. Brooksby will play Pedro Martinez of Spain on Friday for a place in the main draw after Martinez defeated No. 10 seed Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4.
Taylor Townsend, the No. 13 seed, also advanced to the final round of qualifying, beating Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Ann Li lost to Nina Stojanovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-6(5), who will play Townsend for a place in the main draw.

Although their are nine US women playing their second round matches tomorrow, only two play each other: former Pac-12 rivals Nicole Gibbs[24](Stanford) and Robin Anderson(UCLA).

Mitchell Krueger and Noah Rubin are the US men in action Thursday.


Kim Kingsley said...

"Getting balls back with heavy spin"....unfortunately that is what 99.9% of the girl's are doing. Anyone can beat anyone these days depending on who has the better day. The days of seeing players with once in a generation unique styles and shots has long passed. Its pretty much cookie cutter tennis these days in juniors and even pros. The problem is that we are in a competition for eyeballs with many other forms of entertainments and this is not helping. Even the pro WTA event in the Bronx this week has empty stands. I noticed they are trying to keep the Gauff interest up since she can not play many pro matches the rest of the year so they put on an exhibition with Barty. Sadly, Cori does not do anything differently than 100 other pro players, same behind the baseline, little variety stuff they mostly all play. I doubt Gauff will be able to change the tide of low interest for longprobably , she has no unique weapons or physical advantage over any top 100 players, she can beat many of them on a good day, but also lose to any of them. Looks like the days of crazy freakish athletes like Serena and Clijsters, or once in a generational shots like Henin's backhand are gone.

So Long, Baylor said...

J. Brooksby only USA Male thru to the last round ( 3rd) of US open Qualifier. 16 men qualifying for the MD of US Open and 1 is left for the final round. Sad.

Welcome to the Party said...

Zachary Svajda, Kzoo 2019 Champ, draws Kevin Anderson, University of Illinois, 1st round of US Open. Don’t forget to pick up your check on your way out the door. Welcome to the party!