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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Arconadas Make ITF Grade 1 International Hard Courts Semifinals a Family Affair; Gold Medal Match Set at Youth Olympic Games; Four US Players Reach Final Qualifying Round at US Open, Main Draw Unkind to Wild Cards

©Colette Lewis 2014--
College Park, MD--

Playing on side-by-side courts at the Junior Tennis Champions Center where both train, Jordi and Usue Arconada admitted to sneaking a peak at the other's score in Thursday's quarterfinals at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships.  Both had to be happy at what they saw, with Jordi, the No. 9 seed, defeating No. 3 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea 6-4, 6-4, and Usue, the No. 3 seed downing unseeded Ingrid Neel 7-6(3), 6-1.

"I don't really like playing at the same time as she's playing," said Jordi, who turns 18 next month. "I lose focus a little bit too, because she's my sister, but it's fine I guess."

Usue, who will be 16 in October, said she's been following her older brother's matches for so long that it's not distracting anymore, just a habit.

"I look over at the score a lot," said Usue. "I just want to see how he's doing, I always do that and it never causes me problems. I've been doing it since I've been little, and if he's playing next to me I'll be checking his scores."

Usue played an intense first set with Neel in hot and humid conditions on show court 17, but worked out how best to attack Neel's all-court game by the time the second set began.

"When I first came out in the match it was weird playing someone that took the ball really early like that," Usue said. "I knew she takes the ball early, likes to come in, sometimes serves and volleys--I knew all that about her, but you don't know how she's going to come out. But I knew I had to move her with angles. At the beginning I knew what to do, but I couldn't put in my game system. At the end of the first set, I started doing that better and in the second set, she just got a little out of it."

Jordi's game system worked to perfection agains Hong, and the matchup also played to his strengths.

"He has a weaker backhand, and I knew if I opened the court on the backhand and I rallied with him cross court, he was going to give me a couple of mistakes," Jordi said. "He let me run around the backhand and hit a couple of forehands inside in and come in.  Also, I could get him on the stretch and it was easier for me to come in. His serve doesn't do that much damage, so every return game I feel like I was close and had opportunities."

Serving for the match at 5-2, Jordi was broken at love, and at 5-3, several dozen young students at the JTCC came out to watch on the nearby bleacher.  At 30-all, Jordi admitted to some loss of concentration, and Hong held, but Jordi made good on his second chance to complete the win, allowing the youngsters to turn their attention to Usue's match.

Both Jordi (who plays for Argentina as he awaits US citizenship) and Usue(who plays for the US) said they are comfortable playing on their home courts, surrounded by their friends and fellow students.  Both will need that support on Friday, with Usue playing top seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia and Jordi taking on No. 2 seed Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands.

"I've never played him, but I've been to a lot of tournaments with him," Jordi said. "He has a very good serve and good forehand and he's backhand is pretty solid too, but I think it could be a good match for me."

Usue is less familiar with Kalinskaya, who is also 15 years old.

"I actually hadn't seen her before this tournament," Usue said. "I haven't even met her yet, but Raveena (Kingsley) played her today, so we'll see tomorrow."

Kalinskaya beat No. 7 seed Kingsley 6-2, 6-3, while Van Rijthoven needed nearly three hours to get past No. 7 seed Alexander Bublik of Russia 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(1).

The other boys semifinal will be between Americans Michael Mmoh and Reilly Opelka, who met just two weeks ago in the round of 16 at Kalamazoo, with Mmoh taking a 6-4, 6-2 decision.  Top seed Mmoh earned his place with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 8 seed Victor Durasovic of Norway, while the unseeded Opelka's serve was way too much for No. 4 seed Chan-yeong Oh of Korea in a quick 6-1, 6-4 decision.

Unseeded Mia Horvit continued her fine play this week, beating Ellyse Hamlin 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first Grade 1 semifinal.  The 17-year-old Floridian lost her opening set of the tournament, but since then has not lost more than three games in any set.  She will play No. 2 seed Elena Ruse of Romania, who has followed up her semifinal appearance at Wimbledon last month with an increasingly dominant run on the JTCC hard courts. She cruised past No. 5 seed Tami Grende of Indonesia 6-2, 6-2 in Thursday's quarterfinal.

The girls semifinals are scheduled first on Friday, followed by the boys semifinals, due to both Horvit and Kalinskaya also being in the doubles semifinals.  The boys doubles semifinals do not have any singles semifinalists, so with the Canada Grade 1 starting Sunday, it's possible the boys final will be played Friday as well.

The boys top half semifinal has unseeded Tommy Paul and Nathan Ponwith against unseeded Brian Tsao and Evan Zhu.

The bottom half semifinal has No. 7 seeds Michal Dembek of Poland and Majed Kilani of Tunisia against No. 2 seeds Durasovic and Nicolae Frunza of Romania.

The girls doubles semifinals has the 2-, 3- and 4-seeded teams, with Gabby Andrews and Horvit, who beat top seeds Ruse and Arconada in the first round, the unseeded team. Andrews and Horvit will play No. 4 seeds Grende and Theresa Van Zyl of South Africa in one semifinal, while Kalinskaya and her partner Evgeniya Levashova of Russia, the No. 2 seeds, will play No. 3 seeds Vera Lapko of Belarus and Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia.

Complete draws are available at the tournament website.

The gold medal match for boys singles is set at the Youth Olympic Games in China, with No. 2 seed Orlando Luz of Brazil meeting No. 7 seed Kamil Majchrzak of Poland.  Majchrzak defeated top seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, while Luz beat No. 8 seed Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.  The girls semifinals feature unseeded Shilin Xu of China against unseeded Akvile Parazinskaite of Lithuania and No. 7 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine against No. 8 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus.  Sofia Kenin and her Mexican partner Renata Zarazua will play for the bronze medal in girls doubles competition Friday. Complete results are here.

It wasn't a good day for Americans in the second round of qualifying at the US Open. Only two of the seven men in action--Ernesto Escobedo and No. 28 seed Rajeev Ram--advanced to Friday's final round of qualifying.  Escobedo defeated James Duckworth of Australia 6-2, 7-6(3) and will play No. 4 seed Facundo Bagnis of Argentina for a place in the main draw. Ram defeated fellow American Rhyne Williams 6-3, 6-2 and faces the winner of the Sanam Singh - Andreas Beck match.

Melanie Oudin and wild card Maria Sanchez were the only two US women to advance to the final round of qualifying. Oudin, seeded No. 26, defeated Stephanie Foretz of France 6-2, 7-5 and will play Australian Ashleigh Barty for a place in the main draw.  Barty defeated US Open National Playoff winner Caitlin Whoriskey 6-4, 6-0.  Sanchez defeated No. 20 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-4 to advance to a meeting with No. 16 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belrus.

Complete qualifying draws can be found at usopen.org.

The US Open main draws were released today, and boy, the American wild cards got no favors.  Taylor Townsend was drawn to meet No. 1 Serena Williams, NCAA champion Danielle Collins was drawn against No. 2 Simona Halep and US National champion CiCI Bellis was drawn against No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova. Grace Min will play No. 17 seed Ekaterina Makarova. Nicole Gibbs, who faces Caroline Garcia, and Madison Brengle, who plays Julia Glushko, are the only two women's wild cards who did not draw seeds.

In the men's draw, NCAA champion Marcos Giron drew No. 13 seed John Isner, Jared Donaldson will play No. 20 Gael Monfils in the first round, Ryan Harrison's first round opponent is No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov and Wayne Odesnik drew No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori.

Only wild cards Noah Rubin and Tim Smyczek managed to avoid drawing seeds, with Rubin playing ATP No. 66 Federico Delbonis of Argentina and Smyczek drawing a qualifier.

Complete draws are at usopen.org.


Mike Q said...

Interesting how Tiafoe is getting the most hype of the American juniors even though he is not having results in senior division?? Why isn't the media hyping up Escobedo who has top 500 atp ranking and winning matches in us open qualies. #canttrustmedia

Uncle Tommie said...

Mike Q -

Don't you understand why the USTA is pushing Tiafoe over the other players. The USTA is all about diversity and inclusion. There is no better player to market than Tiafoe. He fits all the categories they are looking for perfectly.