Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Opelka Moves into Second Round at Orange Bowl; 2013 16s Champions Advance on Chilly Day in South Florida

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Plantation, FL--

Temperatures in the 60s, with cloud cover and a steady breeze, may be unusual for South Florida this time of year, but it didn't have much impact on the results as the first round of singles was completed in the ITF Grade A Metropolia Orange Bowl Tuesday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center.

All eight of the top seeds in the boys draw have advanced to the second round, and after the shocking loss of top seed Shilin Xu of China on Monday, Tuesday also brought little in the way of drama in the girls draw.  The only seeded girl to lose on Tuesday was No. 16 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia, who retired down 6-4 to qualifier Francesca DiLorenzo of the US.

Fifteen-year-old Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada, who won the 16s Orange Bowl title last year and has moved her ranking near the ITF Top 100 since then, kept her Orange Bowl winning streak going today, beating Swiss qualifier Rebeka Masarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 for her second career Grade A victory.

2013's boys 16s champion Yunseong Chung of Korea, now ranked in the ITF top 10 and the No. 4 seed this year in the 18s, struggled in his opening match, but squeezed by Gabriel Roveri Sidney of Brazil 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).  Chung, 16, served for the match at 5-4 and had a match point, but double faulted to lose it, then made two unforced errors to find himself in a tiebreaker.  But Roveri Sidney, a 17-year-old left-hander, saw his forehand desert him after at 3-3 in the tiebreaker, with two errors on his serve giving Chung three match points. This time Chung didn't waiver, cracking an ace to set up a tough second round match with Eddie Herr champion, but unseeded, Reilly Opelka.

Opelka defeated Liang Yu Richard Lin of Taiwan 6-3, 6-1 for his seventh straight win, and said afterward that the difficulty in playing two weeks back-to-back with just one day of rest is more physical than mental for him.

"I had to physically get ready to come here," said the 6-foot-10 17-year-old, who has trained with the USTA for more than four years. "Six matches, and the last two were pretty physical matches, so I was trying to recover and use my day off yesterday. Mentally, you're on the same surface, it's only a three-hour drive from Eddie Herr to here, and I think it's all physical. Mentally, if you just compete, you have a pretty good idea of what's been working for you. For me, it's just physically being ready to go. I have a tough match tomorrow, with Chung."

Four seeded boys lost on Tuesday, all in the 9-16 seeding category. Qualifier Emil Reinberg avenged his 6-2, 6-0 Pan American Closed loss to No. 15 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada with a 7-6(11), 6-2 victory, while No. 10 seed Juan Jose Rosas of Peru was beaten by Bjorn Thomson of Ireland 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.  No. 11 seed Chan Yeong Oh, last year's 16s finalist, went out to Domagoj Biljesko of Croatia 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 and No. 13 seed Mate Valkusz of Hungary lost to Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Aside from Reinberg and Opelka, three other Americans won first round matches on Tuesday. Tommy Paul defeated lucky loser McClain Kessler 6-4, 6-4, No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh cruised past Majed Kilani of Tunisia 6-1, 6-2, and qualifier Walker Duncan defeated Christian Sigsgaard of Denmark 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2.

In addition to DiLorenzo, five other US girls posted first round wins Tuesday. Qualifer Ingrid Neel defeated Veronica Miroshnichenko of Russia 6-4, 6-3, No. 13 seed Sonya Kenin defeated qualifier Jessica Golovin 6-1, 6-0, Caroline Dolehide downed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2, qualifier Kayla Day advanced when Madison Bourguignon retired down 1-0, and qualifier Maria Shishkina defeated Russia's Adeliya Zabirova 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles began Tuesday afternoon and No. 2 seeds Xu and Sandra Samir of Egypt lost to Lumsden and Katarina Jokic of Serbia 6-1, 6-0, further dimming Xu's chances of finishing the year as the ITF World Junior champion.  Eddie Herr champions and No. 8 seeds Kenin and Jessica Ho also lost in the first round, to Brazil's Luisa Stefani and Alexandra Sanford, 6-4, 7-6(3).

In 16s second round competition, No. 3 seed Abby Altick lost to Taylor Russo 6-1, 6-4.  One of Wednesday's top matches is No. 11 seed Dominique Schaefer against doubles partner and No. 6 seed Sofia Sewing, who met Sunday in the Eddie Herr final, with Sewing winning 6-2, 7-6(5).

The draws and Wednesday's order of play can be found at the tournament website.