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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tension, Drama and Excitement are Everywhere at Easter Bowl on Thursday

©Colette Lewis 2007—
Rancho Mirage, CA—

Thursday’s Easter Bowl action at Rancho Las Palmas produced more excitement than any one person could view or comprehend on a hot, calm and sunny Thursday. Here are some of my candidates for match of the day:

Was it boys 16s No. 1 seed Bo Seal’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback over Jordan Cox?

Or unseeded Andre Dome’s 2-6, 6-4 7-6 (5) victory over No. 8 seed Tennys Sandgren in boys 16s, when Sandgren came back from a 4-0 third set deficit only to fall just short?

Or Boys 14s top seed Emmett Egger’s reversal of fortune against Michael Elortegui 3-6, 6-3, 6-1?

How about No. 17 seed Dennis Novikov’s’ 4-6, 6-3 7-6 (4) win over unseeded Jeremy Efferding, a 14s match that took over three hours to complete?

Or unseeded Lauren Herring’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 toppling of girls’ 14s top seed Whitney Kay?

What about No. 2 seed Mateusz Kecki’s 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (3) win over Devin Britton in boys 18s?

Or 18s No. 5 seed Rhyne Williams’ 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 decision over unseeded Dennis Nevolo, who was experiencing cramps so bad that he served underhanded in the match’s final game?

Could it be No. 6 seed Gail Brodsky, the only seed now remaining in the girls 18s, taking a 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 victory from the precocious 14-year-old Christina McHale?

The answer, for me, is none of the above. It was unseeded Nadja Gilchrist’s 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (4) win over No. 5 seed Melanie Oudin in the girls 18s quarterfinals.

When I settled down to watch the match it was 5-3 in the third, with Gilchrist up a break. Oudin held for 5-4, so Gilchrist was serving for the match. Twice she had a match point, but committed errors both times, and two deuces later, Oudin had evened it at 5-5. When Oudin held at love for 6-5, the pressure mounted, and before long it was Gilchrist who was one point away from a loss. On the first match point, Oudin sent a forehand long, but on the second Gilchrist scorched a backhand down the line, refusing to play it safe.

"My coaches and my parent always say ‘go for your shots’," Gilchrist, 16, said. 'keep going for it, always play your game.' So I'm thinking, 'you know what? I don’t care if that was close or not. I’m still going for it.'"

If there was any residue from their encounter in Mobile at the USTA Spring Nationals last month, won by Oudin 6-3, 6-0, it was hard to detect.

"I didn’t believe in myself in Mobile," Gilchrist said. " I’ve played Melanie before and lost to her really bad. Every time I played her I got a little scared. But this time I really wanted it. This time I told myself I could do it."

The final tiebreak featured more errors than winners, but Gilchrist ended her losing streak against Oudin with a crackling forehand winner, earning a place in Friday’s semifinal against Lauren McHale, who is also unseeded.

In the other girls 18s semifinal, Brodsky will meet unseeded Allie Will, who rolled over No. 4 seed Mallory Cecil 6-1, 6-2, in what Will called one of the best matches she’s ever played.

The boys 16s and 18s and the girls 16s quarterfinal matches are Friday, while both boys and girls 14s and girls 18s semifinals are scheduled for Friday.

For 18s draws, click here.

For 14s and 16s, click here.