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Friday, August 13, 2010

Semifinals Set at Boys 18 and 16 Nationals

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Kalamazoo, MI--

The second day of quarterfinal matches at Kalamazoo was similar in weather to the first, with high temperatures and humidity leading to an implementation of the heat rule for the 18s. There was no need to use it however, as No. 2 seed Denis Kudla and No. 9 seed Bob van Overbeek both finished their matches in straight sets.

Kudla beat No. 8 seed Raymond Sarmiento 6-2, 6-1, and he was as surprised as anyone with the brevity of the match. He and Sarmiento had been practicing together the past two weeks and Kudla admitted that he was getting beaten regularly by the future USC Trojan.

"The way he's been playing and the way I've been playing, I thought he could upset me," said Kudla, who turned pro early last year. "I went into the match thinking he would play really well, so I think mentally I was really prepared. Unfortunately he got sick or got hurt. I don't know what was going on with him."

Down 4-1 in the second set, Sarmiento called for the trainer, complaining of dizziness. He received treatment for two or three minutes and then returned to the court, but he was not able to challenge Kudla in the final two games.

On court 3, van Overbeek had had a similarly easy first set against No. 31 seed Clay Thompson, but Thompson was able to make a battle of it in the second set, holding a set point in the second set tiebreaker before falling 6-2, 7-6(6).

"In the first set I think he was a little nervous," said van Overbeek, who has already played one dual season for the Florida Gators. "He was going for too much on some shots, maybe pressing because there were a lot of people in the crowd. Second set he started to calm down a little bit, make some more first serves. I got a little nervous. It was more a mental fight than a tennis match in that second set."

In the tiebreaker, Thompson was down 4-5, but held both of his serves to earn a set point. He got a look at a second serve, but it was a good one from van Overbeek, and Thompson's return was long. At 6-6, van Overbeek missed another first serve, but his second serve was again deep and effective, and Thompson missed the return.

"Sometimes in these tournaments you have a second serve and you get really nervous, but I wasn't really feeling the nerves," van Overbeek said. "He had been taking my weaker second serves and hitting it close to the baseline and I didn't want to give him a chance to get ahead in the point. So I wanted to hit a lot of topspin on it and get it into his body and see what happens from there."

At 7-6, van Overbeek had the luxury of swinging freely, and when Thompson missed a forehand, he had his meeting with longtime junior rival Kudla.

"We haven't played since 2006," said van Overbeek, who recounted in detail those matches four or five years ago. "He beat me in the finals of the (Junior) Orange Bowl backdraw and we haven't played since. So for now I have the edge head-to-head, but he did take me the last time we played."

In the other 18s semifinal on Saturday, it will be top seed Jordan Cox against No. 3 seed Jack Sock.

The 16s quarterfinals matches went as the seeding would predict. No. 4 seed Michael Redlicki repeated his Clay Court final win over No. 5 seed Gordon Watson, taking down the Easter Bowl champion 6-4, 6-3.

The 6-foot-7 left-hander from Illinois went out to a 4-1, two-break lead in the first, but Watson began to work his way back into the match, getting one break back at 4-1 and holding three game points with Redlicki serving at 5-4. But Redlicki played well on those points, often finishing at the net, although he doesn't really feel comfortable there.

"It was not that I was focusing on finishing points at the net, but when the ball's so short you have no option but to go to the net," Redlicki said. "I prefer to play back at the baseline and work my way in, not just blindly going in like a lot of tall guys do."

In the second set, Redlicki was down 2-0, but won 6 of the next 7 games to earn a place in the semifinals against No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger.

Krueger defeated No. 7 seed Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-3, but he also worked his way out of a tight spot in the second set.

After taking a 2-0 lead, Krueger lost three straight games, and serving at 2-3 went down 15-40 on his serve. He played two big points however, and went on to hold serve, and McDonald's chance to get back in the match was gone.

"It was definitely a relief," Krueger said. "On the second one I hit a volley that could have gone either way. I was really in a tight position. I was glad to get out of that; it was a big two points."

Krueger and Redlicki played last fall in the second round at the ITF Grade 4 in Urbana, Ill., with Krueger winning in a third set tiebreaker.

"It was a good match and I'm expecting another great fight tomorrow," Redlicki said.
"It will be tough," Krueger said. "He's a big server. It depends on how we are on that day."

The other semifinal in 16s to be played on Saturday will feature No. 1 seed Shane Vinsant against No. 3 seed Nolan Paige, meaning all four top seeds will be playing in the semifinals.

A Texas team will win the 16s doubles title Saturday, it's just a question of which one. Top seeds Krueger and Vinsant will face unseeded Andrew Korinek and Tam Trinh for the gold ball. Krueger and Vinsant beat the unseeded team of Alex Gornet and Zack Lewis 6-3, 6-0. Korinek and Trinh defeated the unseeded team of Sam Bloom and Ken Sabacinski 7-6(4), 6-2.

In the boys 18s doubles, the gold ball and a U.S. Open main draw wild card will be on the line when the sixth seeds, Jack Sock and Matthew Kandath, take on No. 2 seeds Sekou Bangoura and Nathan Pasha. Sock and Kandath saved three set points in the second set tiebreaker to defeat No. 4 seeds Evan King and Raymond Sarmiento 6-4, 7-6(6). Bangoura and Pasha, making their second straight appearance in the 18s final, defeated No. 9 seeds Bjorn Fratangelo and Alexios Halebian by the same score as the other semifinal, although Bangoura and Pasha did not need to save any set points in their second set tiebreaker.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.


tennisdude said...

About a month ago, I commented on where Vinsant and Egger train (I now know it is Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas). Interesting that both Korenik and Tam Trinh train there as well. They are really doing something right to have 3/4 players in the 16 doubs final.

Go Texans!