Explore the Junior Tennis Champions Center's high performance program by clicking on the banner above

Friday, August 6, 2010

Isoh's Third Set Tiebreaker Win over Behal Highlights National 18s Opening Round

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Kalamazoo MI--

Every participant, spectator and college coach would gladly take Friday's weather for the duration of the tournament. Blue skies, temperatures in the low 80s and little humidity or wind, made for a perfect start to the 2010 Boys 18s Nationals.

With the top 32 seeds receiving byes, the opportunities for upsets were few, but there were some surprises, including Dan McCall losing 6-4, 6-2 to Daniel Faierman and Harry Fowler, a former 16s top seed (2008), falling to Mitchell Polnet 6-4, 6-0. I didn't see much of either of those matches, but I was able to follow the late stages of the Court 4 drama that resulted in Asika Isoh's 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) win over Jacob Behal.

Isoh, the West Point recruit from New York, wasn't happy with his play in the second set, loudly bemoaning his errors. Behal's serve, and his willingness to finish points at the net, made it difficult for Isoh to exert any control from the baseline. Isoh, a Spring Nationals semifinalist, served first in the third set, and he had more opportunities to break than did Behal, a rising senior from South Carolina. Behal's first serve percentage was low and dropping throughout the third set, and serving to stay in the match at 4-5, he let a 40-15 slip away. Isoh couldn't convert on his match point in that game, and at 5-5, Isoh held easily. Behal again faced the pressure of holding to stay in the match, but despite a double fault, he did that.

In the tiebreaker Isoh continued to hold serve more effectively, and earned a precious point with two progressively shorter angled slices that produced an error from the lanky Behal. Leading 4-2 at the changeover, Isoh took it to a 6-3 lead, with three more chances to complete the win. Behal served well, however, with Isoh shanking a return on the first and unable to handle the second. With Isoh serving at 6-5, a composed Behal didn't hang back, and again was challenging Isoh to pass him. Iosh couldn't get it past Behal the first time but lined up a backhand that he powered past Behal, who just barely got his racquet on it.

The last singles match of the day at Stowe Stadium saw Eric Johnson of California defeat Raleigh Smith of Florida 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. The level of play wasn't particularly high, with lots of unforced errors from both players, but Johnson cleaned up his game in the third set, taking a 5-0 lead before Smith finally held.

The seeded teams in 18s doubles will take the court later this afternoon in doubles. I'll post another brief post later if there are any big upsets.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.