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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Routliffe Upends Top Seed Renaud in Orange Bowl Girls 16s Third Round Action Wednesday; Thiem Tested, Bouchard Breezes in 18s Second Round Play

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Plantation, FL--

No. 13 seed Erin Routliffe's Florida swing got off to a rocky start at the Eddie Herr, where the 16-year-old lost 6-0, 6-0 to Tornado Ali Black in the opening round.

Routliffe, who won the 16s doubles title at the Eddie Herr, now has a much better result to dwell on--a 6-4, 6-2 win over top seed Johnnise Renaud of the US in third round play Wednesday.

Routliffe attributed her loss to Black last week to a combination of factors.

"I was super nervous and I didn't play very well at all," admitted the 6-foot-2 right-hander. "But Tornado's good. She ended up winning the tournament, so I didn't feel too bad, but I will say it wasn't the greatest."

Against Renaud, Routliffe used her serve and forehand well, but the straightforward score doesn't tell the entire story. Multiple deuces marked nearly every game, with many, many ball mark checks by the chair as each girl went for the lines with their big groundstrokes.

"It was a lot closer than the score looked," said Routliffe, who prefers hard courts, but says she is adapting to clay. "I'm just realizing how to play and how to win on it with my style, which is pretty aggressive--a big serve, big shot and I'm always trying to come to the net. I like to be the aggressor, not counterpunch."

Routliffe is one of only two international players still alive in the girls 16s draw. The other, No. 2 seed Katie Boulter of Great Britain, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over American Shannon Hudson. Boulter takes on No. 9 seed Josie Kuhlman, while special exempt Jessica Ho faces Kimberly Yee in an all-American battle. Yee trailed 5-0 in the first set against Maria Smith, but reeled off seven straight games to take the first set and finished with a 7-5, 6-2 win. Ho, who qualified and reached the quarterfinals at the Eddie Herr, beat No. 5 seed Alexandra Morozova of the US 6-2 6-3.

Routliffe will play unseeded Caroline Doyle of the US, who avenged her Eddie Herr semifinal loss to Alyssa Smith with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win.

Rasheeda McAdoo, seeded 14th, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-1 win over lucky loser Terri Fleming, a victory that was witnessed by her father, Bob, an NBA Hall of Famer who now is an assistant coach for the Miami Heat. McAdoo will play unseeded American Lexi Borr, who upset No. 8 seed Madison Bourguignon, also of the US 6-1, 7-6 (10).

There are no American boys in the 16s quarterfinals, with the last three remaining--Jared Donaldson, Joseph DiGuilio and Shane Monroe--losing to Tommy Mylnikov, Hyeon Chung and Diego Pedraza respectively.

The top seeds in the 18s made their way to the third round in contrasting fashion, as girls No. 1 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada breezed past Deborah Kerfs of Belgium 6-0, 6-1, but boys No. 1 Dominic Thiem of Austria needed to mount a big comeback to post a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Lukas Mugevicius of Lithuania.

Mitchell Krueger, the No. 4 seed and tops among Americans, served for the second set against Martins Podzus of Latvia, but lost four straight games and the match 6-3, 7-5. Martins twin brother Janis, the left-hander, also reached the third round, beating No. 15 seed Stefan Vinti of Romania 7-6(6), 6-3.

The two Americans in the boys 18s round of 16 are No. 13 seed Alexios Halebian, who beat Konstatin Gerlakh of Russia 7-6(4), 6-3 in a late afternoon match, and 15-year-old Noah Rubin, who defeated Thien Nguyen Hoang of Vietnam 6-1, 6-1.

The news is better in the girls 18s, with four Americans advancing to the third round. No. 16 seed Taylor Townsend trailed 3-1 at the start of each set in her match with qualifier Petra Uberalova of Slovakia, but she came away with a 6-4, 6-3 victory to earn a shot at No. 3 seed Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands on Thursday. Wild card Sachia Vickery advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over fellow American Stephanie Nauta, and unseeded Samantha Crawford moved into the third round after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova.

Awaiting Crawford in the next round will be wild card Nadia Echeverria Alam, who, for the second day in a row, was on the court more than three hours before claiming her victory. Echeverria Alam, 16, defeated qualifier Maci Epstein 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in a physically and emotionally draining three hours and 20 minutes in the heat of the day.

"There was a point in the match, when I was down like 3-2 in the second set, when I thought I was going to lose," said Echeverria Alam, who had beaten No. 8 seed Ellen Allgurin of Sweden in a grueling first round match Tuesday. "She was playing so well, not giving me a chance at all in the first set. I was barely getting balls over the net. I tried to change my game a little bit, hit high to her backhand, get her off the baseline."

Echeverria Alam, who lives in Miami, served for the match at 5-4, and although she couldn't convert two match points then, she played an excellent deciding tiebreaker against the powerful Epstein.

"I'm pretty good in tiebreaks," said Echeverria Alam. "I guess it's because I play them so much at my academy and where I practice. I think you get used to them, and the pressure. I didn't mind going to tiebreak, I just know that every point counts."

Despite the arduous two matches the past two days, Echeverria Alam wasn't feeling any fatigue.

"I feel pretty good, actually," she said. "I don't feel tired. I've been doing a lot of fitness lately, so this is basically like a normal practice for me. I hope I can do good in my next round, that I won't be tired."

The first round of doubles is complete in the 18s, and there was one major upset, with top seeds Bouchard and Allgurin losing this afternoon to Krista Hardebeck and Chalena Scholl of the US 6-4, 6-4.

For complete results, see the tournament website at usta.com.