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Monday, January 10, 2011

Andrews Defeats Redlicki at Midwest Designated; Harrison Qualifies at Plantation Futures; Winter Nationals Recap on Tennis Recruiting Network

I don't attend many Sectional tournaments, but today's final of the Midwest boys 18s Designated got me out of the house and over to the local Y to watch Michael Redlicki, the 2010 Kalamazoo 16s champion, play Greg Andrews, the 2010 18s Spring Nationals finalist, now a freshman at Notre Dame.

It didn't prove to be as competitive a final as I had expected, with No. 2 seed Andrews winning 6-1, 6-3 in just barely an hour of play, but Andrews had a great deal to do with that. His forehand, always his best shot, produced clean winners with regularity, but it was his return that really made the difference. At 6-foot-7, the left-handed Redlicki usually generates many free points from his serve, but he didn't hold serve until down 4-0 in the second set.

"Michael has a great serve, so I thought I'd get control of the match early if I could get an early break," said Andrews, a resident of nearby Richland, Mich. who turns 19 in March. "I think that was probably the key to the match."

With only eight people watching, including me and a roving umpire, and no other matches being played on the four courts, it was unnaturally quiet. The hum of the electric heater and the breathing of the players after a long point were the only sounds, although Andrews began to berate himself loudly as three match points came and went. Serving for the match at 5-2, Andrews had his first match point after saving three break points, but he hit a backhand into the net, and Redlicki won the next two points to make it 5-3. Andrews grabbed at his right elbow in the middle of that game, but was almost embarrassed to discuss it after the match, since it no longer hurt and he felt it looked bad to rubbing it when he had lost the game.

Redlicki saved his second match point at 3-5, 30-40 with a good first serve and forehand putaway of the return, a combination that was only too rare for him today. Andrews cracked another forehand winner on the next point to earn match point No. 3, but, overeager, hit a backhand long. Andrews forced an error from Redlicki on the net point to get to match point No. 4, and it was great defense that finally won the match for him. Getting back two apparent forehand winners with desperate lunges, Andrews left the second short and in the middle of the court, but Redlicki missed his third attempt at a forehand winner, dumping into the net. There was no celebration, no applause, no call of game, set, match. The match and the tournament were done, and Andrews had collected his third straight January Designated title in his hometown.

Andrews, who was playing in the tournament for match play before spring semester resumes in South Bend next Monday, was certain that just one semester of college tennis had enhanced his game.

"I'm returning way better, we've worked a ton on my serve, and I'm serving a lot better," said Andrews, who went 6-3 in matches this fall. "When you're practicing with those high level players every day you're just more solid off the baseline. So I've definitely seen some improvement."

Andrews is looking forward to the dual season, which begins for the Fighting Irish with a trip to William and Mary and University of Virginia for matches on January 22nd and 23rd.

"I am so excited, I cannot wait," Andrews said. "All the guys on the team have said it's different than even the fall. College tennis in the fall is different from junior tennis, but I've heard it's a completely different animal in the spring, so intense. So I can't wait."

For complete draws for the tournament, see the TennisLink site.

At the Plantation Futures today, Christian Harrison beat Thai Kwiatkowski 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the main draw of the $10,000 event. The 16-year-old Harrison, who was out 18 months with a bone infection and other injuries, will play wild card Jeremy Efferding in the first round. Jesse Levine is the top seed, but Wayne Odesnik, who is coming back from a suspension for possession of HGH, is in Levine's quarter. Odesnik won a wild card tournament for his place in the main draw. Virginia Cavalier Alex Domijan and Maksim Tikhomirov received the other two wild cards. Jordan Cox and Denis Kudla are in the main draw on their rankings; Andrea Collarini qualified.

The final round of the 25K women's qualifying in Plantation has 14 of the 16 seeds playing on Tuesday for eight places in the main draw. Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito is the No. 1 seed in the main draw. Americans Jennifer Brady, Beatrice Capra and Anna Mamalat received wild cards, as did Magda Okruashvili of Georgia.

For draws and qualifying results, see the usta.com Pro Circuit page.

Over at Tennis Recruiting Network, Ali Jones has provided a look at the championship matches in the 16s and 18s at the USTA Winter Nationals.