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Thursday, December 1, 2005

Boys 12s Final Features Top Two U.S. Rivals; Orlik and Tomljanovic Meet for Girls 12 Title

Boys 12s Final Features Top Two U.S. Rivals; Orlik and Tomljanovic Meet for Girls 12 Title~~~
©Colette Lewis 2005
--Bradenton FL
Rivalries start early in tennis and Emmett Egger and Mika De Coster will add another chapter to theirs when the top two players in the USTA's 12s rankings meet Friday for the prestigious Eddie Herr International title.

De Coster, of Coto De Caza California, won the first two meetings, but dropped his semifinal encounter at the National Clay Courts in July. "I had two set points in the first set of that match," said De Coster of the 7-6, 6-3 loss to Egger. "I had a fractured wrist but I didn't know it was broken at the time."

Facing his toughest test of the tournament when semifinal opponent Joey Swaysland of Australia took him to a tiebreak in the first set, De Coster fought off two set points, and hit a forehand winner to grab the 8-6 tiebreak win. He attributed his easier second set (6-2) to adjustments he made in dealing with the gusty winds.

"He played well in the beginning, but at two-all, I didn't make any errors from then on and he had a few more," De Coster said. "He used the wind a lot better than I did in the first set."

Egger's 6-3, 6-4 victory over Christian Harrison (USA) now gives him a 4-0 record against the eleven-year-old who trains at Newcombe's Academy in Texas. But he resolutely denied suggestions that there was a significance to that.

"Christian's a very good player. It's just a few points difference, a point here or there," said Egger, 12. "The matches have all been like that."

Asked about De Coster's game, Egger was again complimentary. "Mika's a good player, very consistent. I'll need to play well to win."

De Coster revealed that his strategy is to "keep mixing it up--don't let him play his game, moving you around. I'll need to take balls earlier."

With no seeding in the 12s, fortune plays a role in determining the finalists, but with a history of close matches, Egger and De Coster should deliver another one on Friday.

In the girls 12s, Hanna Orlik of Belarus will meet Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia in Friday's championship match.

Orlik dispatched Sloane Stephens (USA) 7-5, 6-0, while Tomljanovic bested Di Zhao of China 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Orlik has not dropped a set in her six matches, and attributed the close first set primarily to her errors. With her father helping her with English, Orlik, who is number one in Belarus in the 12s and 14s, expressed more satisfaction with her play in the second set.

Tomljanovic dropped the first set in her opening match and repeated that against the dangerous Zhao, but held on for the win and a chance to take center stage Friday to decide who will succeed Great Britain's Tara Moore as Eddie Herr Girls 12s champion.