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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Uspensky, Kumar Take Out 16s Orange Bowl Favorites; Four US Girls into Third Round in 18s

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Plantation, FL--

The major upsets were confined to the boys 16s Wednesday at the Orange Bowl International Championship at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center.

Unseeded Sameer Kumar had never beaten No. 3 seed and 16s National Champion Henrik Wiersholm, but a recent title at the Midland National Open gave him the confidence he needed to earn a 6-4, 6-2 decision over his fellow 15-year-old.

"I got a lot of confidence from that tournament," said Kumar, who made the adjustment from indoor hard courts to Florida Har-Tru in the space of a week. "I knew I was playing well coming into this tournament and I got here quite a bit early and trained a lot on clay. I've always felt my game is better on clay than on hard and outdoors, so I was excited for this tournament."

Kumar stayed with Wiersholm, who had reached the third round in the Eddie Herr ITF last week, stroke for stroke throughout the match, and even threw in a surprise serve-and-volley to keep Weirsholm from finding a rhythm.  Kumar, who had cruised past No. 15 seed Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands 6-0, 6-2 on Tuesday, also used his previous meetings with Wiersholm to formulate an effective strategy.

"Henrik is an incredible player," said the Indianapolis resident. "I knew it was going to be a very tough match coming in, that I'd have to play my best. My coach gave me some tips and I had a little bit of an idea of what to do. I thought I executed my strategy very well."

While Kumar was eliminating the No. 3 seed, Dennis Uspensky of the United States was ending the winning streak of Eddie Herr 16s champion Ku Keon Kang of Korea 6-4, 6-4.

Uspensky, who was born in New York, but now lives in Spain, was able to force some errors from Kang, who is rarely put in a defensive position.

"I was running around my forehand and feeling it very well," said the 16-year-old, who is in the Tennis Europe 16s Top 10. "I knew where to place it. I usually kicked the serve to his backhand, and that made him stumble a bit on the other side, and then I immediately directed it to the right and he didn't have an answer for that."

In both sets, Kang had to win his serve to stay in them, and both times he was unable to put the pressure back on Uspensky. Uspensky won the final eight points of the match, holding serve at love for a 5-4 lead, and finishing the match by breaking Kang at love.

"I came in as a huge underdog and I had nothing to lose," said Uspensky, whose parents are from Russia and whose verbal outbursts on court are in that language. "I basically played one of the best matches of my life."

Even before Uspensky and his family moved from New York to Spain, he trained regularly on the red clay, so he is at home on the surface.

"This is basically an advantage to me to play the Orange Bowl on clay," said Uspensky, who doesn't train at an academy, and is looking for a new coach.  "I have a pretty big swing on the forehand, and I've been training on red clay since I was eight years old."

Kumar and Uspensky are among five American boys in the quarterfinals of the 16s. The others are William Blumberg(8), Jess Jones, and Tommy Paul(12).

There are six US girls in the 16s quarterfinals: Camila Wesbrooks, Usue Arconada(5), Madison Bourguignon(3), Maddie Pothoff(12), Mary Haffey and Chloe Ouellet-Pizer(16). Ouellet-Pizer eliminated Eddie Herr 16s champion and No. 4 seed Marie Norris, who had beaten Ouellet-Pizer in the semifinals at the Eddie Herr, 6-4, 7-6(4).

Wednesday was another day when the 18s went to form.  The only seed to lose in either the boys or girls draws was No. 14 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, who fell to qualifier Gustav Hansson of Sweden 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4).

The US has only two boys remaining in the round of 16--Thai Kwiatkowski, the No. 9 seed, and wild card Deighton Baughman. Kwiatkowski crushed Young Seok Kim of Korea 6-1, 6-1, while the 16-year-old Baughman came from a break down in the final set to take out Franz Sydow of the Netherlands 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Top seed Giuluigi Quinzi of Italy defeated Dan Kerznerman of the US 6-2, 7-5, while No. 2 seed Frederico Silva of Portugal came through a tough second round test against Alexander Zverev of Germany 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The four US girls remaining in the final 16 are all seeded. Top seed Taylor Townsend avenged her 2011 third round loss to Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands 7-6(6), 6-4. Townsend saved a set point in the tiebreaker serving at 5-6, with a good first serve, then earned herself a set point by handling de Vroome's rocket of a return off her first serve and crushing a forehand winner of her own.  At 7-6, the two 16-year-olds engaged in a slice battle, which Townsend won when de Vroome's backhand found the net.

No. 8 seed Chalena Scholl posted a routine 6-2, 6-2 win over Iana Fett of Croatia, while No. 9 seed Christina Makarova posted a 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 win over Varvara Flink of Russia.

No. 11 seed Allie Kiick, who did not play the Eddie Herr, led 14-year-old qualifier Olga Fridman of Ukraine 4-1 in the final set, and had two match points serving at 5-4, but Fridman drew even, only to be broken at 5-5, giving Kiick another chance.

Kiick isn't afraid to play long points and her experience and patience paid off in the final game. At 30-15, a Fridman backhand went long and Kiick had match point No. 3. She played good defense, slicing back some deep and penetrating shots by the young left-hander, and when Fridman missed an overhead putaway at the net, Kiick had booked a place against Eddie Herr champion and No. 7 seed Ana Konjuh.

Kiick has never played Konjuh before, and she enjoys those first-time encounters.

"I like it better, because you have no clue what's going to happen," said the 17-year-old daughter of former Miami Dolphin Jim Kiick. "You go out there thinking essentially nothing, and the first couple of points you just try to get a feel for what their weaknesses are."

As for Konjuh, Kiick has seen enough to know their will be a contrast in styles Thursday.

"We have totally opposite games, so it will be interesting," said Kiick, the 2010 Orange Bowl 16s champion. "I've seen her hit, and she hits pretty hard. I'm here, five feet behind the baseline, hitting high top spin balls, so it should be interesting."

For complete draws, see the tournament page at usta.com.


Eric said...

Prince Original Graphite for Kumar! I love it.... Old School!