Saturday, November 30, 2019

Crawley Ousts Top Seed in Eddie Herr ITF Grade 1 Qualifying; Eddie Herr ITF Wild Cards; Basavareddy, Kiefer and Blanch Win Grade 5 Titles

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Bradenton FL--

The weather was perfect for the opening day of qualifying at the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr Championships, with clear blue skies, temperatures in the upper 70s and very little wind. The attempt to finish two rounds of the girls qualifying today nearly succeeded, but four second round qualifying matches are either in progress or had yet to begin when darkness halted play on the green clay courts of the IMG Academy.

Both top seeds in the qualifying were eliminated, with boys top seed Kokoro Isomura of Japan moving into the main draw before play began due to a special exempt initially held open for a player in a late match at the Grade A in Merida. The player lost however, meaning he was not eligible for the special exemption, and Isomura moved into the main draw.

The girls top seed, Fiona Arrese Mata of Spain, lost to another Fiona, Crawley of the United States, 6-1, 6-2 in the second round Saturday afternoon. Crawley had won her first match over Thaina Amorim Carvalho of Brazil 6-0, 6-0 and she began her match with Arrese in the same fashion, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before Arrese broke Crawley to get on the board. Crawley got the break back to take the first set, but the second was much more competitive, with Crawley actually down a break at 2-1 before taking the final five games of the match.

Crawley felt Arrese, who had a bye in the first round, needed that set to get going.

"First matches are always the hardest," said Crawley, a 17-year-old from Texas, who loves playing on clay. "She was colder than me for sure, and I think it was an advantage for me for sure. It would have been different if it had been a hard three-set match, but for me it just let me get the jitters out."

Crawley, who now trains at the FIT High Performance Tennis Academy at the McFarlin Tennis Center in San Antonio, was pleased with her overall level of play today and in her improvements in the past year.

"I think I played really well," said Crawley, who credits her coaches at FIT for getting her to step up her aggression. "I just wanted to go out and have a good match, have a good time, because she was the one seed, she's good, and her name is Fiona as well, which is cool."

Arrese caught Crawley by suprise on several drop shots, but Crawley had the higher shot tolerance throughout the match and she was able to raise her level when it was necessary.

"It was a lot closer than 6-1, 6-2," said Crawley, who needed 90 minutes to claim the win. "Most games went to deuce. I think she played really well as well."

Crawley recently signed with the University of North Carolina, which ended a difficult junior year for her.

"It was so hard," Crawley said. "My junior year was hell. On top of school and everything, just the stress. A lot of my friends committed early junior year, they knew, but I had no idea. I took all my visits and of course I loved every school, loved every person I met. I thought I was narrowing it down, but I was making it worse. North Carolina was the first official that I took. I took a bunch of other officials and unofficials and I remembered how much I loved it and thought I needed to go back one more time, and then I knew, this is the school for me."

Crawley will face Victoria Hu for a place in the main draw Sunday. Hu defeated No. 11 seed Zoe Hitt 6-2, 6-0 in the first round.

In the first round of boys qualifying, Hugo Hashimoto defeated No. 9 seed Bohua Dong of China 7-5, 2-6, 10-4 and JC Roddick defeated No. 8 seed Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan 6-4, 6-2. The boys will play two rounds of qualifying on Sunday.

The wild cards for the ITF main draw, which begins Monday:

Cash Hanzlik

Stefan Leustian

Victor Lilov

Evan Wen

Juncheng Shang(CHN)

Daniel Vallejo(PAR)

Fnu Nidujianzan(CHN)

Spencer Whitaker

Clervie Ngounoue

Reese Brantmeier

Elena Yu

Isabelle Kouzmanov

Isabella Kruger(RSA)

Victoria Mboko(CAN)

Chelsea Fontenel(SUI)

Sanyukta Gawande 

The final round of qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s will also take place Sunday on the IMG Academy's hard courts. See the TennisLink site for draws and times.

Three Americans won ITF Grade 5 singles titles this week with 14-year-old Nishesh Basavareddy and 17-year-old Nicole Kiefer earning their first in St. Kitts, and 15-year-old Krystal Blanch claiming her first in Buenos Aires.

Basavareddy, the top seed, defeated No. 8 seed Kaiwen Jiang of China 6-0, 6-1 in the singles final, and also won the doubles title with older brother Nishanth, defeating Jiang and Robert Zhang of the United States 6-0, 6-2 in the final. 

Kiefer, the No. 2 seed, beat top seed and doubles partner Hana Gamracy of Canada 6-0, 6-0 in the girls singles final. In the doubles final, Gamracy and Kiefer, the top seeds, beat Artemis Pados and Canada's Maria Popova 4-6, 7-6(4), 10-5.

Americans won both doubles titles at the Grade 5 in Panama, with top seeds Jennifer Kida and Ana Carmen Zamburek of the Domican Republic beating No. 2 seeds Rachel Hermanova of the Czech Republic and Luca Udvardy of Hungary 6-3, 6-0 in the girls final. In the boys final, Ryan Colby and Stefan Regalia defeated Luis Diego Leon and Daniel Marcano of Venezuela 3-6, 6-4, 10-5. 

At the Grade 4 in India, Samir Banerjee and Ekansh Kumar defeated Jack Loutit of New Zealand and Jaishvin Sidana of India 6-3, 6-3 in the final.