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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Qualifier Lim Meets Top Seed Dubrivny for Boys 12s Title: Seven US Girls in 12s & 14s Semis: Kozlov Outlasts Wiersholm in B14s at Junior Orange Bowl

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

Qualifier Albert Lim of the Philippines has won ten matches in the boys 12s division in the past eight days, but he showed no signs of tiring in his two matches today at Salvadore Park. The 12-year-old from Manila cruised past two the top 12-year-olds in the United States today, beating No. 2 seed Alex del Corral in the quarterfinals and Noah Makarome, a No. 9 seed, in the semifinals, with both wins by 6-2, 6-1 scores.

Makarome had battled fellow American Sam Riffice for more than two-and-a-half hours in the morning before coming away with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 quarterfinal victory, so his energy reserves for the semifinal were bound to be depleted, while Lim had a much shorter match against del Corral.

Lim, a powerfully built right-hander with serious pace on his serve and forehand, will face top seed and Eddie Herr champion Artem Dubrivny of Russia in the final. Dubrivny was tested in his quarterfinal match with unseeded Juan Otegui of Argentina, pulling out a 7-5, 7-5 win in the morning match, but he needed less than an hour to defeat No. 6 seed Ergi Kirkin of Turkey 6-1, 6-0 in the afternoon's semifinal.

At the girls 12s at the Biltmore Tennis Center, there was much better news for the United States players, as all four Americans in the quarterfinals won their matches and advanced to the semifinals, assuring the US a second straight Junior Orange Bowl Girls 12s champion, after Nicole Frenkel's win in 2010. Like Frenkel was last year, three of the girls are unseeded, with only Catherine Bellis receiving one of the 16 No. 1 seeds.

Bellis disposed of Eddie Herr finalist Sofya Zhuk, also a No. 1 seed, 6-1, 6-0, and will play Nicole Conard in the semifinals. Conard downed Andreea Rosca of Romania 6-4, 7-6(4) in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The other semifinal, which also will be held at the University of Miami's Schiff Tennis Center on Thursday, will feature Claire Liu and Riley McQuaid. Liu beat Ana Biskic of Croatia, the recent Little Mo International 12s champion, 7-5, 6-2, while McQuaid took out Vanessa Wong of Canada, a No. 1 seed, 6-4, 6-3.

The girls 14s quarterfinals, which moved from Key Biscayne to the University of Miami on Wednesday, produced three winner from the United States. Top seed Tornado Ali Black again rolled past her opponent, beating American Marie Norris, a No. 9 seed, 6-0, 6-0. Black will play the only international girl still in the Junior Orange Bowl, No. 7 seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia, who surprised No. 3 seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1, 6-4.

Local favorite Katerina Stewart of Miami, the No. 6 seed, also had no difficulty advancing to the semifinals, beating unseeded Ye Qiuyu of China without the loss of a game. She will face No. 8
seed Chloe Ouellet-Pizer, who defeated unseeded Ellie Halbauer of the US 6-2, 6-3.

Ouellet-Pizer, a semifinalist at the Easter Bowl this year, wasn't expecting to find herself in the same position at this year's Junior Orange Bowl.

"I was kind of surprised I was seeded eighth," said Ouellet-Pizer, of Chapel Hill, NC. "Last year I only won one round in the back draw and I had to qualify, so this year we just wanted to get into main draw. But I'm doing really good this year."

Ouellet-Pizer knew she had to find a way to counter the heavy hitting of Halbauer.

"Ellie's a really good player, she hits the ball really hard," the left-hander said. "I had to make her hit a lot of balls, because she can miss. When she's on, she can go on fire, so I just had to stay really solid on her loose games."

Ouellet-Pizer enjoyed being on the Sony Ericsson courts at Key Biscayne, but the move to the more intimate University of Miami site provided her with extra incentive.

"Key Biscayne is really pretty, but I like it here, because I like having an audience for my matches," Ouellet-Pizer said. "I think it's cool to play on the same courts as these great college players play."

With most of the matches in the boys and girls 14s brief, the only audience that really gathered was for the all-American boys 14s quarterfinal between No. 5 seed Henrik Wiersholm and No. 4 seed Stefan Kozlov on court 6. Wiersholm and Kozlov battled for just over four hours before Kozlov came away with a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4 victory.

Wiersholm had four set points in the opening set, with Kozlov serving at 3-5, but couldn't covert them and Kozlov secured the first set with two straight breaks. After trailing 3-1 in the second set, Wiersholm not only got the break back, but served for the set at 6-5. He was unable to convert two set points in that game however, and in the tiebreaker, let two more set points slip away after taking a 6-3 lead. But with Kozlov serving at 5-6 in the tiebreaker, Wiersholm came up with a big forehand that Kozlov couldn't handle, and two-and-a-half hours after the match started, the two took a 10-minute break before beginning the third.

Part of the reason for the length of the match was the number of deuce games and prolonged points. Each player held his first three service games, with Kozlov getting the first break to take a 4-3 lead. The 13-year-old Floridian gave it right back however, as Wiersholm pounced on a second serve at 30-40 to make it 4-4.

Wiersholm, who had called for a trainer early in the second set, may have been tiring, as he was broken for a second straight time in the next game, with unforced errors the primary culprit.

Serving for the match, Kozlov took a 40-0 lead with a lovely slice lob winner, but was unable to get a first serve in on the next two points, which ended with errors from Kozlov. When he missed a volley to make it deuce, it looked as if the match might make it into its fifth hour, but Kozlov redeemed his previous miss with a volley winner to give himself a fourth match point. A good first serve and a forehand volley winner gave Kozlov the win, an emotional one over a longtime rival and friend.

"It was pretty tough," said Kozlov, who now trains full-time at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton. "On the tennis court you can't really have friends. We're friends after the match, but it's really tough, I don't know how he's going to take the match--negatively or positively."

Kozlov was surprised to hear that he and Wiersholm had been playing for four hours.

"That's how much I've improved physically," Kozlov said. "I used to die at three hours, and now I've played for four hours and I have energy still after the match. I had no idea it was four hours, I thought it was three or two and a half hours."

Next up for Kozlov is No. 7 seed Sasha Zverev of Germany, who beat No. 2 seed Cameron Klinger of the US 6-1, 6-4.

"I've never played him, but we practice sometimes," said Kozlov, who admitted he needed some real rest this evening in preparation for Thursday's semifinal. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow and hope I can succeed again."

The other boys 14s semifinal is a rematch of the Eddie Herr final. No. 6 seed Alejandra Tabilo of Canada beat unseeded Socrates Tsoronis of Australia 6-4, 6-4 to set up another contest with Seongchan Hong of Korea. Hong, a No. 9 seed, defeated No. 16 seed Tommy Paul of the US 6-3, 6-4 and will attempt to avenge his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to the Canadian left-hander in the Eddie Herr final.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.