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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paul Beats Top Seed in B14s at Junior Orange Bowl; Four US Girls and Three US Boys in 12s Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Coral Gables, FL--

Top seed Bogdan Borza of Romania had been living on the edge in the boys 14s Junior Orange Bowl competition this week at the University of Miami, but he met his match Tuesday afternoon in No. 16 seed Tommy Paul of the US, who came back to defeat the European 14s champion 1-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5).

Borza had saved five match points in his first round match with lucky loser Kaden Funk of the US, and when Paul was unable to convert either of his two match points with Borza serving at 4-5 in the third set, it looked as if the slender left-hander might once again wriggle free.

On the first match point, Borza came up with a forehand winner that was simply too good, but Paul had reason to regret the second, when he was in control of the point, only to miss a volley.

Paul then faced down a break point of his own, serving at 5-5, when Bogdan badly missed a forehand return of a second serve. Paul went on to hold, as did Borza, and a tiebreaker would decide who would move on to the quarterfinals.

At 4-4 in the tiebreaker, Paul somehow got to a very good drop shot and scooped it back over the net, and a stunned Borza, already mentally depositing the point in his account, netted his forehand reply.

"I didn't think I was going to get to it," admitted Paul.

Borza was so upset by the outcome of the point that he threw his racquet to the other side of the net, but was not penalized by the roving official watching the match. Borza recovered his composure and won the next point to make it 5-5, but it was then that Paul came up with the biggest shot of the match, a down-the-line forehand winner that Borza had no chance to get a racquet on.

"I told myself, I've got to be aggressive here," said Paul, who trains at the USTA's Boca Raton National Center. "If I lose the point, I can still serve my way out of it."

Paul was aware of Borza's Houdini-like escapes, so he knew he couldn't squander his third match point.

Paul got his first serve in, Borza made the return, but with his next shot caught the net with a forehand, giving Paul one of his biggest wins.

"It's probably at the top, with Zverev," said Paul, who had beaten Germany's Sasha Zverev in a third set tiebreaker in the third round of the recent Eddie Herr. "It's one of my best wins, I think, so far."

Paul will play No. 9 seed and Nike International Masters champion Seongchan Hong of Korea in Wednesday's quarterfinals. Hong beat No. 8 seed Francis Tiafoe of the US 6-0, 6-4. Paul and Hong have never played in a tournament, but do have some competitive history.

"I'm at the USTA and he's at Evert, so we do practice matches sometimes," said Paul. "We know each other's games, and the matches are usually pretty close."

The other boys 14s quarterfinal match in the top half has unseeded Socrates Tsoronis of Australia against Eddie Herr champion Alejandro Tabilo of Canada, the No. 6 seed. In an all-American quarterfinal, No. 5 seed Henrik Wiersholm will face No. 4 seed Stefan Kozlov, and in the bottom quarterfinal, No. 7 seed Zverev will play No. 2 seed Cameron Klinger of the US, the USTA National 14s champion. Klinger had his toughest match of the tournament this afternoon, but managed to subdue qualifier Basil Khuma of India 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

The boys 12s quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Wednesday on the Har-Tru courts of Salvadore Park. Top seed and Eddie Herr champion Artem Dubrivny dropped his first set of the tournament to Camilo Ugo Carabelli of Argentina, a No. 9 seed, but roared back to take a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-0 decision. He will play another Argentinian, unseeded Juan Otegui in the quarterfinals. No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia will meet No. 6 seed Ergi Kirkin of Turkey in the other quarterfinal in the top half.

All three Americans are in the bottom half, with Sam Riffice and Noah Makarome, both No. 9 seeds, playing each other for a spot in the semifinals.

Makarome took out No. 4 seed Patrick Kypson of the US 7-5, 6-4, while Riffice beat Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 6-3, 6-1.

Riffice is from Northern California, where clay courts are few, but he did get an opportunity to practice on the surface before heading to Florida for his first Orange Bowl.

"One of our friends has a clay court in their backyard, so they let us use it a couple of times of week," Riffice said. "So that was pretty helpful."

Riffice has lost only ten games in his four matches, and is pleased with his level of play, rating an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. He and Makarome played at the Winter Nationals a year ago, with Makarome winning 6-4, 6-2.

"I played him on hard court and lost, so I'm happy to play him again," said Riffice.

The fourth quarterfinal will feature qualifier Albert Lim of the Philippines against No. 2 seed Alex del Corral of the US. Del Corral advanced over Great Britain's Dominic West, 6-4, 7-6(5), in a match that was every bit as close as the score would suggest.

In the girls 12s, there are four US girls remaining, all in different quarters of the draw.

Unseeded Riley McQuaid will play Vanessa Wong of Canada, a No. 1 seed and unseeded Claire Liu will play unseeded Ana Biskic of Croatia in the top half. In the bottom half, unseeded Nicole Conard of the US will face unseeded Andreea Rosca of Romania. Two No. 1 seeds will meet in the fourth quarterfinal with USTA 12s champion Catherine Bellis playing Sofya Zhuk of Russia, the Eddie Herr finalist.

In the girls 14s, which will move from Key Biscayne to the University of Miami on Wednesday, five US girls remain in contention for the title.

Top seed Tornado Black will play Marie Norris, a No. 9 seed, in one of the all-American quarterfinals. The other will feature No. 8 seed Chloe Ouellet-Pizer and unseeded Ellie Halbauer. American Katerina Stewart, the sixth seed, faces unseeded Ye Qiuyu of China, and Croatia's Ana Konjuh, the No. 3 seed, will meet No. 7 seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia.