Sunday, April 22, 2007

Unseeded Formentera Wins Boys 16s in Third-set Tiebreak at Easter Bowl; Gibbs, Williams also Earn Championships

©Colette Lewis 2007—
Rancho Mirage, CA—

Finals featuring third set-tiebreaks are rare, but probably not as unusual as an unseeded player defeating the third, second and first seeds in a tournament to win his first gold ball in only his third national event.

But that describes Lawrence Formentera, who blazed his way to the boys 16s Easter Bowl title with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4) victory over top seed Bo Seal on a picture-perfect day at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage.

Formentera, who lives in Colton, about an hour’s drive from the Palm Springs area, was something of a mystery to those outside Southern California.

“I’ve always been playing up,” said the 15-year-old, “and I never had the ranking to play nationals.”

But his father decided to change coaches when that strategy failed to produce victories or development, and once Formentera found his competitive level, the tournament wins came in bunches.

Any of the spectators at Sunday afternoon’s match can tell you how he did it—with pace, depth and an absolute laser of a forehand.

“He had an amazing forehand,” said Seal. “really flat and hard. He was able to hit winners on either side of the court, cross court or down the line. He had one of the best forehands I’ve ever played.”

Both players were on their games in the first set, with no breaks through the first nine games. But with Seal serving at 4-5, 30-40, Formentera used his power game to work his way to the net and hit a sublime backhand overhead to take the first set.

In the second set, Seal was down 3-0, facing a break point in the fourth game, but he regained his equilibrium, while Formentera had a letdown, and lost the next six games and the set.

“I thought it was over already,” said Formentera of his lead in the second set. “But the guy’s a fighter. I was just being an idiot.”

The vocal Seal, whose “c’mons” often sound like they have five or six syllables, was using the expression often during the third set, when he took a 3-1 lead. But this time it was Formentera who fought back to even it at 3-3, then 4-4. In the ninth game, which featured eight deuces, Seal saved two break points and put the pressure back on Formentera, who needed a couple of ads on the next game to even it at 5-5.

After Seal held for 6-5, Formentera was down 0-30, but two forehand winners later, he was out of trouble. But the sword cut both ways, and two forehand errors later, it was match point for Seal.

“He forced me to miss the shot,” said Seal of the Formentera forehand that produced the backhand error, “and then he played a great tiebreaker and came up with the goods.”

“I just miss or hit a winner,” said Formentera of his go-for-broke style. “I’ve been doing that my whole life. It’s just another match. Even though there’s a bunch of people watching and it’s going on TV, it’s just another match.”

For Fourteen-year-old Nicole Gibbs, the final against her friend Beatrice Capra, wasn’t just another match. It was an opportunity to chalk up her first win against her rival, which she accomplished by outlasting her 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to win the girls 16s Easter Bowl title.

“I went in with a different strategy this time,” said the fifth-seeded Gibbs, from Cleveland, Ohio. “In previous matches, I had played both sides equally, and I think her backhand is probably a stronger side, so I played her forehand a little more.”

In the first set of the nearly three-hour match, Gibbs went up 4-2, but the unseeded Capra, last year’s 14s Easter Bowl champion, reeled off four straight games.

“I was a little frustrated with how I played in the first set,” Gibbs said. “But I focused in and said all right, I’m going to win the first game, get up early this set and see what I could do.”

It was an effective pep talk, because she won the first three games, and held on to even the match.

The 16s take a mandatory 10-minute rest break, and Gibbs and her coach zeroed in on moving her feet and getting her energy level up.
She was broken in the first game of the third set, but broke back the next game, a pattern that would continue throughout the final set.

“I’ve been having trouble with my serve,” said Capra, of Ellicott City, Maryland. “That’s why I was pumped up to win the next game. I knew if I lost serve, I had to win the next game.”

That pattern held until 5-5 in the third, when Gibbs held for 6-5, but Capra wasn’t able to earn the game she needed for a tiebreak.

“I was hoping I could win it again, but I came up short,” said Capra, whose Easter Bowl 13-match winning streak came to end. “Next year though.”

Gibbs complimented her friend on how she coped with the disappointment of such a close loss.

“Tricee is such a good sport, and I was really impressed by that match today,” Gibbs said. “She just handled it so well—smiling an congratulating me. That means a lot.”

The boys 18s match was the least competitive of the finals played on Sunday, with No. 5 seed Rhyne Williams defeating third seed Johnny Hamui 6-4, 6-2.

“Last week was pretty satisfying, getting to the finals,” Williams said of the International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif. “But I got to the finals here, and I thought, I’m out here, I might as well try to win the whole thing.”

Using a big serve and forehand to keep Hamui on the defensive, Williams twice broke Hamui late in the first set. After three straight breaks to open the third set, Hamui asked for a trainer, and was treated for a blister on his foot.

“My feet weren’t working today,” said Hamui, of Wesley Chapel, Florida. “My legs were very heavy, my back was a little tight. My game plan was to try to move him around, make him hit a lot of balls, but I wasn’t able to get to that second or third ball, because I was one step slow.”

Although Williams was up 2-1 when Hamui received treatment, the delay didn’t bother him.

“It was pretty hot out there,” said Williams. “I kind of needed a break too. I wasn’t complaining. I saw that it was his foot, and your feet are what you need most to play tennis, so the next few games I was really going to make him work, make him run. But fortunately the points were pretty short after that.”

In the first game after the timeout, Williams blasted four big serves by Hamui and when Hamui was broken in the next game, the outcome was no longer in doubt.

“In the second set it was unbelievable," said Hamui, 18, who expects to sign with the University of Florida soon. “He was painting the lines.”

The win was especially satisfying for Williams, who along with Hamui, will be heading to Europe for the ITF junior clay season, because Hamui had knocked him out of last year’s Easter Bowl in the round of 16.

“Revenge is sweet,” said Williams, of Knoxville Tennessee. “He did beat me last year, in a pretty long match, and I remembered that, but I just went out there and had fun today.”

Devin Britton won his second consecutive Easter Bowl doubles title, teaming with Brad Cox to squeak by Jarmere Jenkins and Austin Krajicek 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3). Amazingly, Britton and Cox saved four match points with Cox serving at 5-6 in the third set, exactly the same number that Jenkins and Krajicek had saved in their semifinal win over Britton and Cox at the International Spring Championships last week.

“We’re both serve and volleyers,” said Britton, who won the 16s Easter Bowl titles with Chase Buchanan last year, explaining the eighth-seeded pair's recent success. "We were hoping we were going to get them this week again," said Cox of the 2006 US Open Junior finalists, who were seeded third. "We were glad it was in the final."

The girls 16s doubles champions are No. 2 seeds Alexandra Cercone and Jacqueline Kasler, who came back to defeat Jessica Alexander and Brooke Bolender, the fifth seeds, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Seal and partner Ryan Noble, the top seeds in the 16s division, fell to the fifth seeded team of Walker Kehrer and Kyle McMorrow 6-3, 6-4.

For 18s draws, click here.

For 14s and 16s, click here.


Anonymous said...

Would Lawrence make the JDC Team this year?

With Chase, Devin and Rhyne still around, even an Easter Bowl winner couldn't crack into the lineup.

Agreed! Comments please!

Anonymous said...

Also there is Alex Domijan, Frank Carleton, and JT Sundling. They dont play as many itf's as Chase, Devin and Rhyne but are as good.

Anonymous said...

I would not think Lawerence would have much of a chance against any of the guys listed in the two comments above.

Anonymous said...

Colette, do you know which tournaments Williams will be playing in Europe?

He's just 100 points or so away from being in the top 10. It's pretty remarkable that he could finish that high with two years of eligibility left.

Anonymous said...

Coletter i have a question being as were talking about the 91 age group. I watched the Williams Sundling match and it almost appeared that the two have the exact opposite attitude on the court. Sundling seemed very calm and showed good sportsmanship. Rhyne was flabbing his mouth saying all kinds of stuff. What do you think abou the comparison of there to attitudes?

Anonymous said...

Have you guys seen Lawrence. He is a beast, a legitimate contender at every tournament he plays and one of the nicest kids I have ever met. You should see some of the wins he has had in the 18s. This kid has got game. Hes my boyyy.

Anonymous said...

If I am one of the selectors, I would make the Easter Bowl B16 Singles winner a direct entry to the JDC team every year since the Easter Bowl is such a prestigous event and USTA just presented the tournament director a very important award. It's hard not to pick the B16 Easter Bowl winner into the JDC no matter how good other kids are.

They should have played and try to win the B16 (their right age) instead of playing up with no pressure at all.

Of course you can't leave out Rhyne Williams this year since he won the Easter Bowl Boys' 18 singles.

If you want to win the JDC, you need a great doubles player in B16 like Devin Britton.

Tough luck to the rest of the great tennis players born in 1991.

USTA should look at the talent pool depth chart and spend more funds on 1991 kids. These group of kids could be as good as the Agassi era.

There must 20-30 of these 1991 born kids that could beat on each other. A few of them have great serving motions at this young age, amazing!

Have a 4 weeks summer camp and put them together under one training ground and work them under some great conditioning coach and metal experts. Todd Norman from Southern California is a good choice for conditioning if we can't get Pat.

Summer is here soon. Enough said. More comments, please!

Take a look at the Australian Junior Program, since the hiring of Craig Tiley, four (4) of the Australian kids are in the ITF Top 10.

US Open must take in more revenue than the Australian Open: why are we behind the Australian kids?

It seemed like that we never lost to Australia in swimming because ...............

Anonymous said...

The 91's are quite possibly the best year. No way does Formentara make it. Give him a lot of credit for a great win, but there were so many 16 year olds that chose not to play 18's.

Anonymous said...

That's the situation in tennis: encouraging your kids to play up (NO PRESSURE AT ALL)and ignore the major championships at their own age group.

We shouldn't ask our so-called great kids to play Level 2 tournaments at their own age at all since they have already got a taste of ITF tournaments.

However, respect your own National Championships unless your are as good as Donald Young or Michael Chang. Try to win a gold ball as seed #1 is the hardest thing in tennis.

Now everybody knows who Lawrence is. As he stated in one of his press interview, he was fooling around with B18s competitions for one year without any results to show for.

Ever since he moved back to his right age group, he is a beast and somebody's boyyy now.

Let's wait until this summer to see whether he would go for the B16 Grand Slam or decide to play up like our talented kids. It's easy for Lawrence to knock off Bo Seal since he is not seeded.

He should be seeded very high in the upcoming Claycourt and Kalamazoo B16s. Stay tune......

Anonymous said...

Bo Seal seems to be the only one of these kids who is not afraid of the pressure and plays his age group in the major tournaments. He is definately capable of playing only 18's and doing just as well as these other guys if not better. Plus he goes to a great school full-time when most of these other kids are online or home schooled? Watch out for him in the future because he is twice as tough as these other kids who get all the attention. It is definately more pressure for him as the #1 seed in the Easter bowl in his age group and he was still 1 point away from winning it.

Anonymous said...

If you saw the final you would see that Fomentera has the goods. He is fearless and against Bo Seal who is as tough as they come, he won 5 straight points from being down 2-4 in the 3rd set tie-breaker. Although he was not seeded, the SoCal kids considered him a favorite.

As far as the USTA boys who dropped down to try to win the KZoo 16s, Drew Daniel and Jenkins finished in the Qtrs, Sundling and Klahn only got to the round of 16, both beaten by El Midhawy who became a USTA player AFTER the Zoo. Devin Britton and Krajicek lost in the round of 32. There really is no pressure playing in the 18s because they aren't expected to win but when they do drop down to play 16's they are expected to win and they don't even come close. So give Fomentera his due, he played a great match against a tough opponent.

Anonymous said...

Everyone goes to heaven whether you take a slow boat or a jet.

I totally agreed that Bo Seal is a talent. Please don't knock the online schools or correpondence schools. They serve a supportive role.

Fulltime students playing tennis constantly work for their mental toughness which the online students lack.

If someone wants to play fulltime and try to be a pro; give them the break too!

Just imagine if we parents work all day and still have to go to school; it's tough.

Anonymous said...

Ok Chase and JT last year got to the semis both so i think they proved that they are good enough for the 16's. Plus your comparing K zoo to easter bowl. K zoo is about 10 times tougher. Formentera is a good ball striker but really streaky and has no serve. Bo Seal would not be doing as well in 18's as the other guys becuase his game is not big enough. Plus the kids who played up are definately feeling as much pressure being as they dont want to lose early and make them selves look stupid by playing up. I would like someone to name a 91 that Formentera would ahve a shot against.

Anonymous said...

Lawrence and I have been tight ever since we were in the 12s. He is not cocky like many people say some of the top USTA players are. He is down to earth and always appreciates when his opponents play well. That is the sign of a true champion. G Money + L Shizzle = LG Connection

Anonymous said...

let me tell you guys something. my boy l forms has RESULTS. he has lost just 2 matches in the 16s this year. he won two designateds and won a national open without being close to dropping a set. he won in the finals 0 and 1. plus he'll tune some of you with his massive rips. stop bashin on him. l forms got the goods.

Anonymous said...

I almost get the impression that some of you think Formentera's win was more impressive than Williams' because of the pressure of playing in your own age group.

Players like Formentera and Seal should not be downgraded because they don't play up. However, let's not pretend that it's easy to play up against older players. That's more than a minor detail. Sure, there may be less pressure, but that's outweighed by the fact that, on the whole, the competition is much stronger. Formentera's own results clearly show that it's easier to win at your own age level. I would also add that pressure is self-imposed, so it's certainly possible that a player like Rhyne Williams could feel just as much pressure playing in the 18s as he would playing in the 16s. You might not, and most probably wouldn't, but it's certainly possible. There's also more potential to be intimidated playing up in classification, which is a psychological factor that hasn't been mentioned.

Now don't get me wrong. In no way am I saying that those who play up are always better than those who don't. Obviously that's not true. I just don't think we should belittle the accomplishments of those who do play up.

All of the stuff about players being scared of playing in their own age group is silly and unfair. You could just as easily say that those who don't play up are scared. I would guess that fear has nothing to do with such decisions in most cases.

Also, players have no obligation to play in their own age group, nor should they. They should do whatever they think is in their best interest. The argument that players should "respect their own championship" is pretty weak IMO.

Concerning the 1991 players, you would be hard pressed to convince me that Williams, Domijan, Buchanan, etc. wouldn't do great in the 16s (although, if they all played, some of them would go out relatively early). We can at least agree that Williams would be the prohibitive favorite, right? Guys like Formentera, Seal, Sandgren, King, and Dome would hardly be easy outs, but they would have a MUCH tougher road to hoe.

BTW, to correct one of the above posts, Klahn lost to Alex Domijan at Kalamazoo, not El Mihdawy. He then went on to win the consolation bracket and finish fifth. Krajicek finished sixth. Jenkins lost a very close match to El Mihdawy in the QFs, then lost to Klahn in the CQs. Daniel had the misfortune of drawing Boyajian in the QFs, then lost to Krajicek in the CQs. They didn't exactly stink it up, and they didn't do too bad relative to expectations either. Klahn was seeded 5th, Krajicek 7th, Jenkins 4th, and Daniel 6th. None of them were expected to win the tournament. Boyajian and Thacher were the clear favorites. And as far as Klahn, Krajicek, and Jenkins go, nobody else from their birth year did better than them (taking consolation matches into account). Britton, BTW, lost in the same rounds as Seal, and Seal was seeded eight spots higher. Did he collapse under the pressure?

Anonymous said...

the reason kids play up is so that it is not a waste of thousands and thousands of dollars to go and play a few rounds of unchallenging matches before you get to play a couple of matches against kids of your level. most of the kids are looking to develop their games for the future not to make you people happy. these kids that are playing up have already proved themselves at that particular level. if it were up to you people that think they shouldnt play up they would stay in their own age group until they fell asleep against 1 of the lesser players and got beat when the reality is they get tired of beating the same people over and over so why shouldnt they play up and be challenged. know what you are saying before making those types of uninformed statements. once you get to that level they all feel pressure to do well no matter what the ages and birth years are. the pressure at that level is about developing a game for the future in pro tennis and being able to perform no matter who you play or what the circumstances are. does it occur to some of you people that some of these kids play in their own age group because they know it is their best chance to win a gold ball while others aren't worried about the gold ball as much as they are developing a mans game.

Anonymous said...

The 91's are an extremely talented year, and everyone knows williams and buchanan and domijan and britton and sundling...just becuase they are 91's technically playing up doesnt exactly make it no pressure, williams was one of the favorites to win it for sure...all these guys have wins over "older" kids and highly ranked ITF foreign and american players...these guys have probably more pressure to do well in the 18's than in the 16's. So don't say these guys are playing up to avoid the pressure of playing the 16's...that just sounds ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Good win for Formentera .

But guys , give credit where credit is due .
Williams finalist at Carson, then Champion at Easter Bowl . Those are quite tremendous results and his only 16 ? My money's on him .

Anonymous said...

the latter comments are correct. there is no point of christian harrison to play 12's or for ryan harrison to play 14's when they can play with better competition.

Anonymous said...

another argument could be size...all the 16 year olds that actually play their age group (minus 2 or 3) did not necesarrily become 6 ft tall by the age of 14...notice that all the 90s 91s playing up are over 6 ft tall...add some inches to the 16s players that dont play up and they would be BETTER than all the ones playing up now...argue that...seal formentera king dome reed- all top 8 finishers...merely waiting for their complete game to develop

Anonymous said...

king is a 92

Anonymous said...

quit talking about only the 91's. plenty of the 92's and 93's are doing just as well as the 91's were at that same age.

Anonymous said...

very true.. the 91s are very good group of players.. but take a look at the 92s and 93s.. we have serious players there too... i cant wait to see how the future unfolds

Anonymous said...

Let's find a foundation like Little Mo and obtain a major sponsor like NIKE and have a USTA Jr. Masters Cup 2008 for players born in ________.

In order for players to get to the elite-eight field for 1991 born players, they must either win one of the four (4) National Championships in Boys 16 or Boys 18.

As for Boys 18, if there is no 1991 winners in the four (4) major championships, we would take the 1991 finalist from these four (4) National Championships.

Any left over spots will go to any 1991 boys ranked within the B18s Top 20. Remaining spots would be awarded to whoever has the highest ranking in Boys 16 and is not a major title winner.

One wild card will be awarded to the player proposed by the USTA Junior Competition.

This could be the Superbowl of Junior Tennis and should be held every year in January as a major prep for the Australian Open.

Selections should be made no later than January 3rd of each year.

The 8 boys will be divided into two groups with each play three round ribbon matches during the first round.

The top 2 players resulting from each group will then qualify for the semi-finals, with ensuring winner move on to the grand finale.

I think this is easy to do and shouldn't be that expensive to run. Carson runs a great ISC Championships each year under John Lansville and directed by Mr. Brewer. This could be the site for the initial Jr. Master Cups

This 4 days event should be alternated each year between Key Biscayne and Carson.

This format could be done for all age group and a true championship will be born in each age group.

There is no need to say that the kids playing up are way better than the kids who just want to win some gold balls.

Anonymous said...

The kids playing up from the 91's already have some or alot of gold balls.

Anonymous said...

I guess there is no value at all trying to pursue as many gold balls as possible for 91 kids playing now. They are simply professional to other 91 kids trying to go to college to get an education.

There must tons of Donald Young born in 91 to someone to be so sure about these kids' pro future.

What a shame?

Colette Lewis said...

I like the idea of a USTA Masters Cup for certain birth years. Maybe we can float the proposal to the USTA's Junior Competition committee.

I also hear coaches lamenting the demise of the Junior Davis Cup team, which was a national team that traveled internationally and was selected from performance at a tryout camp.

Anonymous said...

For the JDC Selection, I feel very strongly that the B16s and B18s Easter Bowl winner that are age qualified for the JDC should be a direct entry to the JDC Team. Those are current performance.

The second criteria could be the highest ranked American that is age qualified for JDC in the Top 100 ITF Ranking.

The third criteria could be the highest ranked age qualified junior in the USTA B18 Top 20 ranking category.

The fourth selection criteria could be an USTA Wild Card Selection set aside for the best double playeres that is age qualified for JDC according to the ITF Jr. Ranking Total Doubles Points obtained or anyone USTA desires.

The fifth & final criteria would be the Top Rank Junior in B16 category if he is not the Easter Bowl Winner already. If the Easter Bowl winner is the current #1 ranked boy, then the #2 rank b16 would move up.

Here are the selections for this year's JDC Team according to this suggested format:

Crit 1: Rhyne Williams
B18 Winner
Lawrence Formentera
B16 Winner

Crit 2: Rhyne Williams
#17 (4-23-07)

Crit 3: Ryhne Williams
#2 (4-25-07)

Crit 4: Devin Britton
70 ITF Doubles Points

Or Any USTA Suggestion

Crit 5: Alexander Domijan
#1 (4-25-07)