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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Seeds Mmoh, Oh Advance to Round of 16 in Junior Orange Bowl Boys 14s

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Coral Gables, FL--

For Wednesday's third round at the Junior Orange Bowl, I decided to concentrate on the boys 14s at the University of Miami. It was another lovely day in South Florida, with few clouds and temperatures again in the low 80s, and even among longtime residents, the mild weather was a popular topic of conversation.

With his ITF ranking of 119, top seed Michael Mmoh of the US, the 2010 Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion, is the overwhelming favorite to take the title this year, and in his first two matches he had lost a total of only two games.

Today against qualifier Vince Russell Salas, who is listed in the draw as from the USA and on the ITF Junior site as from the Philippines, Mmoh started as if he would continue on that same dominant path, taking a 4-1 lead in the first set.

Salas made too many unforced errors and had difficulty with Mmoh's serve in the first three games, but he shook off his nerves and played much better after that, forcing Mmoh to earn the points he won.

Salas got the break back with Mmoh serving at 4-2, and he held to make it 4-4, but serving at 4-5, he committed a costly unforced error on the backhand side at 30-30, giving Mmoh a set point.  Mmoh didn't squander it, belting a forehand winner to take the first set.

Mmoh struggled on serve in the opening game of the second set, with  his strategy of coming forward leaving him vulnerable to Salas' lobs and passing shots, but Mmoh held, then broke, and this time Salas was unable to get the break back.  Several line disputes added to the tension, with the roving umpire called to court by each player, and the handshake after Mmoh's 6-4, 6-1 victory was perfunctory at best.

Mmoh's opponent in the round of 16 is unseeded Oliver Anderson of Australia, who beat Matthew Gamble of the US, a 17 seed, 6-1, 6-4.

Second seed Oh, also playing on Court 1, started poorly and lost the first set to qualifier Daniel Soyfer of the US 6-1, done in by a slew of unforced errors and Soyfer's relaxed start.  Trailing 2-1 in the second set, 14-year-old Korean won five straight games, picking up his energy level, which resulted in improved movement.  After taking the second set 6-2, Oh didn't let the 10 minute break between the second and third sets rob him of any momentum, and he won four more games before Soyfer got his first, and last, of the set, dropping the final two games for the 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 result.

Thursday Oh will play unseeded Jay Min of the US, who beat a No. 9 seed, Kenneth Raisma of Estonia, 6-1, 7-5 today.

Mmoh and Min are two of five US boys in the round of 16. The others are:  Nathan Ponwith, the No. 3 seed, unseeded Zeke Clark and qualifier Gui Gomes.  Ponwith defeated qualifier Dennis Afanasev of the US 6-3, 6-2; Clark beat No. 7 seed Evan Zhu of the US 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, and Gomes ousted Gianni Ross of the US, a No. 9 seed, 6-2, 7-5.

In the boys 12s, half of the 16 remaining are from the US: unseeded Brian Shi, Blake Croyder, Jenson Brooksby and Matthew Fenty and No. 1 seeds Keenan Mayo, Andrew Fenty, Boris Kozlov and Roscoe Bellamy.  Croyder and Brooksby and Kozlov and Bellamy play each other in Thursday's fourth round.

It was a rough day for the Russians, with Eddie Herr champion Alen Avidzba unable to take the court against Matthew Fenty due to cramps, and Nikolay Vylegzhanin, the Eddie Herr finalist, falling to qualifier Yeongseok Jeong of Korea 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Vylegzhanin took the loss  hard, staggering to the net to shake hands as if in physical pain and sobbing uncontrollably on the bench for several minutes afterwards.

There were plenty of surprises in Wednesday's third round at the girls 14s at Key Biscayne, with No. 3 seed Jazzi Plews of Great Britain and Nicole Frenkel and Usue Arconada of the US, both No. 9 seeds, losing.

There are seven US girls in the round of 16: Jaeda Daniel(17), Claire Liu(17), Emma Higuchi(4), CC Bellis(9), Alexis Nelson(9), Sofia Kenin(6) and Jada Hart(17).  Higuchi and Bellis and Nelson and Kenin play each other on Thursday.

In the girls 12s, there are five US girls in the round of 16, including two qualifiers: Nada Dimovska and Ulyana Shirokova. No. 1 seeds Abigail Desiatnikov and Eddie Herr champion Ellie Douglas are in the top half, as is unseeded Rachel Lim.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.