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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cheong Beats Top Seed Makarova to Reach Junior Orange Bowl 14s Semifinals; Corneanu Defaulted; Gauff, Owensby Reach G12s Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Coral Gables, FL--

After saving two match points in her fourth round win on Saturday, Naomi Cheong anticipated another difficult match in the quarterfinals when she played top seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia. But the 13-year-old from Las Vegas was able to post a 6-3, 6-3 victory by balancing aggressive play with patience on a cloudy and cool day at the University of Miami's Neil Schiff Tennis Center.

"I was expecting to have a three- or four-hour match today because she's a tough player," said Cheong, a No. 9 seed. "She can stay out there all day, so I knew I just had to stay focused the whole time."

Cheong was prepared for Makarova's high, looping topspin and her defense.

"I did know she was going to do that the whole match," said Cheong. "But it's good for me too, because I can practice on my game and go for shots that I need to--taking volleys and overheads and swing volleys. So it was good, but I also had to be patient most of the time, because I can't let that distract me or lose focus."

Several of the points between Cheong and Makarova on Court 1 were so long that balls from Court 2's match caused lets to be played.

"At one point I did get mad, but I told myself I can't let it bother me," Cheong said. "Because if I let it bother me, she's going to know and take control of the match, and I can't let her do that."

Cheong, who said she enjoys playing on show courts, won two ITF Grade 5 tournaments in the weeks before the Junior Orange Bowl, so her winning streak is now at 15, but it's a tournament prior to those titles that motivated her.

"Right before the ITFs, we had this Les Petits tournament, with eight American players and they would take the top four to Les Petits," said Cheong. "I didn't do well, and I knew if I wanted to get better, I needed to keep practicing, do better, and yeah, I'm seeing the results."

Cheong will play unseeded Loudmilla Bencheikh of France, who defeated No. 6 seed Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.

Unseeded Yuki Naito of Japan continued dominating, defeating 12-year-old Gabby Price, also unseeded, 6-0, 6-3.  Naito will play Eddie Herr champion and No. 5 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, who advanced when Oana Corneanu of Romania was defaulted trailing 6-3, 5-3.

Corneanu was given her first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when she took a bathroom break but did not use the toilet.  The second was for racquet abuse, and she was warned of her precarious situation after she was overruled twice on line calls by the roving umpire. (Chair umpires will be used beginning with the semifinals). When Corneanu was overruled a third time, the roving umpire called the site referee to the court, and after a brief discussion, Corneanu was defaulted.

She dissolved in tears and several spectators loudly protested the decision, but eventually she and Kostyuk shook hands, although Corneanu continued to sob by her chair for several minutes.  Because the default was for misconduct, she was also defaulted from the consolation tournament.

The top half of the boys draw has played out as expected, with top seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina meeting No. 4 seed Timofey Skatov of Russia in one semifinal.  Tirante defeated Mateus Alves of Brazil, a No. 17 seed, 6-1, 6-2 and Skatov eliminated the last unseeded player, Canada's Liam Draxl, 6-2, 6-1.

The semifinal in the bottom half will feature two No. 17 seeds: Anton Matusevich of Great Britain and Seon Yong Han of Korea.

Matusevich upset Les Petis As and Eddie Herr champion Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. Matusevich, who won the big 14U tournament in Bolton in January under the US flag, took control in the third set.  Tseng began to make unforced errors, an uncharacteristic mode for him, while Matusevich kept the pressure on with his pace and depth.

Han defeated No. 7 seed Jack Draper 7-6(5), 6-1, and although Matusevich is physically imposing, Han is even more so, making for a decidedly non-14s look in their upcoming semifinal.

The Girls 12s had the top eight seeds in the quarterfinals, but that form didn't hold, with No. 2 and No. 3 falling today.

Eddie Herr champion Noa Krznaric of Croatia defeated No. 8 seed Anna Chekanskaya of Russia 6-3, 6-2 and still has not lost a set in the two Florida tournaments this month.  She will play No. 4 seed Cori Gauff, who defeated No. 6 seed Yeonwoo Ku of Korea 6-3, 6-2,  in rematch of the Eddie Herr final, won by Krznaric 6-3, 6-3.

Charlotte Owensby, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Kylie Bilchev of Great Britain 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 and will play No. 7 seed Daria Lopatetska of Ukraine, who beat No. 2 seed Elvina Kalieva 6-2, 6-3.

The Girls 12s semifinals and finals will be played at the University of Miami after the first five rounds were played at Tropical Park.

No American players are left in the main draw of the Boys 12s at Salvadore Park after today's quarterfinals.

Top seed Xiaofei Wang of China defeated Aidan Mayo 7-6(4), 6-4 and No. 8 seed Jewon Jeon of Korea defeated Alexander Bernard 6-4, 6-3 to end US interest.

Wang will play unseeded Christopher Li of Peru, who beat No. 3 seed Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia 0-6, 6-2, 7-5, while Jeon meets unseeded Eduardo Morais of Portugal.  Morais defeated unseeded Elmer Moller of Denmark 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 in a match that last three hours and 15 minutes.

Because the Boys 12s is played on Har-Tru, they will complete their tournament at Salvadore Park.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.