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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Min Ousts Sixth Seed; Halebian Squeaks Through in Eddie Herr Second Round Action

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

The annual cold front that sweeps through the area every year at the Eddie Herr tournament arrived Wednesday morning, with a few very minor showers that cleared quickly. The chilly north winds stayed around however, adding an extra element to the second round of the 18s singles.

Grace Min of the U.S. took advantage of her opponent's frustration with the conditions, ousting No. 6 seed Daria Salnikova of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Salnikova is the highest seed to lose in the first two rounds of singles, boys or girls.

"It was really windy today, and I was really conscious of the wind," said Min, 16. "I just shortened up my swings, and try to stay in every point. Her swings are just naturally really big, she takes a big cut at the ball, so that didn't really help her case with the wind. She looked pretty flustered."

Min is among six U.S. girls in Thursday's round of 16. Joining her are No. 5 seed Lauren Davis, who survived a serious challenge from Ekaterina Semenova of Russia 7-6(2), 6-3, No. 12 seed Madison Keys, who beat Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4 and Lauren Herring, who topped qualifier Liz Jeukeng 6-1, 6-3. Although the five remaining qualifiers lost on Wednesday, two wild cards have advanced to the third round, both of whom train at the Bollettieri Academy. Stephanie Nauta defeated No. 16 seed Miyu Kato of Japan 7-5, 6-2, and Vicky Duval took out Saska Gavrilova of Serbia 6-0, 1-6, 6-1.

Girls top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia defeated Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-4, 6-4, while boys top seed Mate Pavic of Croatia was tested by Patrick Ofner of Austria. Ofner won the first set 6-4 before dropping the next two 6-3, 6-2.

The three seeded U.S. boys all collected straight set victories. Sixteenth seed Dennis Novikov dismissed lucky loser Mikhail Vaks of Russia 6-2, 6-2, No. 15 seed Bjorn Fratangelo defeated Belgium's Julien Cagnina by the same score, and No. 13 seed Shane Vinsant posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Germany's Patrick Elias. Vinsant will face top seed Pavic on Thursday, while Fratangelo faces No. 2 seed Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador. Novikov's opponent is No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, who won the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup on Saturday. Thiem overcame Lucas Pouille of France 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

Brazil's Karue Sell upset No. 7 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in what was undoubtedly a close contest, but the match of the day in the 18s was between two left-handed 16-year-olds: Alexios Halebian of the U.S. and qualifier Thiago Monteiro of Brazil. Monteiro took the first set 6-4, Halebian evened it with a 7-5 second set. In the third, Halebian was down a break early, got it back for 3-3, then had a match point with Montiero serving at 4-5. He couldn't convert it, and in the next game was broken at love, but Monteiro couldn't serve it out.

Monteiro had leads of 4-1 and 5-2 in the final tiebreaker, but he probably regrets the forehand errors he made on routine shots at both 5-2 and 5-4. Although calm throughout most of the match, despite the frustrating wind gusts, Monteiro gave his racquet a long heave into the net after the second error. With the score at 5-5, Monteiro still had another serve, but this time his backhand found the net, giving Halebian his second match point. Halebian missed his first serve, but he had a plan, which, for those who know his game, unsurprisingly included a drop shot.

"I knew at 6-5 I had to do it," said Halebian. "I didn't want to give him a chance to go for a winner. I planned that if I missed my first serve, if I have time, I'm going to hit the drop shot. If I lost the point, I had 6-all, and I would serve again, so I was giving myself chances. He really didn't do that up 5-2."

Halebian, the fourth American boy in the round of 16, will play No. 4 seed and Baylor recruit Mate Zsiga of Hungary.

In the 12s division, the quarterfinals are set. The sole U.S. boy still in the running to succeed Stefan Kozlov is qualifier Michael Mmoh of Maryland. In the girls division, No. 1 seeds Cristina Rovira and Sofia Kenin are half of the U.S. contingent, which also includes Jaeda Daniel and Shilin Xu. Daniel and Kenin play in the quarterfinals Thursday.

In the 16s, the top seeds advanced to the third round, albeit in different fashion. Christina Makarova of the U.S. has yet to lose a game in her first two wins, and will face fellow American Alexandra Kiick, a qualifier, on Thursday.

Boys 16s top seed Trey Strobel didn't panic down a set to wild card Luca Corinteli, coming back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Qualifiers Stephen Watson and Brett Clark have reached the final 16, as have No. 9 seed Thai Kwiatkowski and No. 12 seed Jordan Daigle. Unseeded Jhonatan Gonzalez, who plays Strobel on Thursday, and Roy Lederman give the U.S. 7 of the final 16 players remaining.

In the girls 14s, top seed Valeria Patiuk of Israel has yet to be tested, but in the boys 14s, the top three seeds have been eliminated, with Daniel Kerznerman of the U.S., at No. 4, the highest seed remaining. No. 6 seed Zandrix Acob had the longest day of any player today, needing over three hours to subdue 2009 Eddie Herr 12s champion Stefan Kozlov in his opening match, then needing three more sets to get by Eduardo Nava in his second singles match of the day.

The doubles began for the older divisions on Wednesday. Complete scores as well as stories and photos can be found at eddieherr.com.