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Friday, September 23, 2011

USTA National Team Veterans Krueger and Halebian Savor Napa Experience, Post Wins on Opening Day at Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic

©Colette Lewis 2011--
St. Helena, CA--

The six members of the USTA's National Junior Team heard plenty about the Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic from Mitchell Krueger and Alexios Halebian, the two players who competed in the 2010 tournament at the Meadowood resort.

"I couldn't stress enough how nice this was going to be," said Krueger, 17. "I think Al and I both were talking it up pretty big, and a lot of them were telling me they are enjoying it so far: how nice the courts are, the atmosphere, so laid-back."

Halebian didn't simply emphasize the virtues of the setting and amenities at the exclusive resort, but also reminded them of their responsibilities.

"I told them to keep on good behavior, because it's a nice facility," said the 17-year-old Halebian, "and to try their best. We act as a team, and we try to push each other to win as many matches as we can, and that's a great part of this event."

Both Krueger and Halebian came from a set down to beat their collegiate opponents on a very warm and calm day in the renowned wine valley, with Krueger downing Notre Dame's Niall Fitzgerald 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 and Halebian beating Japie De Klerk of Tulsa 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

"It's always tough because you don't know how these guys play," said Halebian, who last year qualified for the final shootout that decides the tournament winner. "You don't really have a game plan to go out, so it takes a few games, sometimes a whole set, to get used to their games."

Krueger didn't get rattled after he dropped the opening set tiebreaker, which was decided by just one mini-break.

"I missed a forehand on my serve on the second point and that was it," said Krueger. "But I think I turned it around nicely. He had a lot of slice on his serve and he was acing me a lot in the first set. It took me a little bit to figure out his serve and how to return it."

Krueger and Halebian were joined in the winner's circle by team members Nikko Madregallejo and Connor Farren. Madregallejo defeated Notre Dame's Casey Watt, No. 28 in the ITA preseason rankings, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Watt took two injury timeouts, one in the second set and one near the match's conclusion, but Madregallejo was able, with the help of USTA National Coach Stanford Boster, to maintain his strategy and focus.

"Apparently he was cramping," said Madregallejo. "Me and Stanford thought it wasn't even a focus. We just focused on our side of the court, rather than the other side."

Madregallejo, 16, was happy to have on-court coaching, which is part of this tournament, which is played with ITA rules.

"It changes the way I think about the match, and it helps actually," said Madregallejo. "I thought since he was cramping, I should move him a lot, make him play, make him suffer, but instead he said just play your game. You don't need to do anything special, you'll be fine."

As a rookie, Madregallejo was seeing the tournament with fresh eyes, and he was impressed.

"It's nice. It's ridiculously nice," he said. "It's a pleasure to be here. I'm happy I'm on this trip, and that they picked me."

Farren defeated Tennessee freshman Brandon Fickey 6-3, 7-6(7) and Spencer Papa closed the day's singles action, giving the juniors their fifth win in eight matches with a 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4 decision over Tennessee's Hunter Reese.

Complete results below:

Friday’s singles results:
Ahmed Ismail (Cal) def. Grant Ive (Tulsa), 6-4, 6-4
Nick Andrews (Cal) def. JC Aragone (USTA, Yorba Linda , Calif.), 6-2, 7-5
Ashley Watling (Tulsa) def. Gonzalez Austin (Vanderbilt), 6-2, 6-4
Nikko Madregallejo (USTA, Monrovia, Calif.) def. Casey Watt (Notre Dame), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Greg Andrews (Notre Dame) def. Alex DiValerio (Vanderbilt), 6-3, 6-4)!
Connor Farren (USTA, Hillsborough , Calif. ), def. Brandon Fickey (Tennessee), 6-3, 7-6(7)
Ed Jones (Tennessee) def. Blake Bazarnik (Vanderbilt), 6-4, 7-6 (4)
Clifford Marsland (Tulsa) def. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA), 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2
Alexios Halebian (USTA, Glendale , Calif. ) def. Japie De Klerk (Tulsa), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Ben McLachlan (Cal) def. Luca Corinteli (USTA, Alexandria , Va.), 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Charlie Jones (Vanderbilt), 6-1, 6-4
Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Jarryd Chaplin (Tennessee ), 6-1, 6-4
Sam Keeton (Notre Dame) def. Michael Redlicki (USTA, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Mitchell Kreuger (USTA) def. Niall Fitzgerald (Notre Dame), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1
Spencer Papa (USTA, Edmond, Okla.) def. Hunter Reese (Tennessee) 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-3
Warren Hardie (UCLA), def. Christopher Konigsfeldt (Cal), 7-5, 6-4


USTA Juniors: 5-3
Cal: 3-1
UCLA: 3-1
Tulsa: 2-2
Notre Dame: 2-2
Tennessee: 1-3
Vanderbilt: 0-4

Friday’s doubles results
Nick Andrews-Ben McLachlan (Cal) def. Ed Jones-Brandon Fickey (Tennessee), 8-5
Alexios Halebian-Luca Corinteli (USTA) def. Charlie Jones- Blake Bazarnik (Vanderbilt), 9-8 (4)
Gonzalez Austin-Alex DiValerio (Vanderbilt) def. Ashley Watling-Japie De Klerk (Tulsa), 9-7
Mitchell Krueger-Connor Farren (USTA) def. Grant Ive-Clifford Marsland (Tulsa), 8-4
Clay Thompson-Warren Hardie (UCLA) def. Nikko Madregallejo-JC Aragone (USTA), 8-3