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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Price Defeats No. 2 Seed Noel in Junior Orange Bowl Second Round; Damm Among Eleven US Boys Reaching Third Round in 12s Division

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

With four sites, odds are that I'll miss the day's big upset, and that was the case Thursday, when 12-year-old Gabby Price defeated No. 2 seed Alexa Noel 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-0 in the second round of Girls 14s at the University of Miami.

Noel was the only Top 4 seed to lose today, with No. 1 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, No. 3 Luniusca Delgado of Venezuela and No. 4 Katie Volynets advancing to Friday's third round.

After a close call for  Thiago Tirante of Argentina in the second round Wednesday, the top seed advanced in straight sets in Thursday's third round.  No. 2 seed Govind Nanda, No. 3 seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan and No. 4 seed Timofey Skatov of Russia also advanced in straight sets.  No. 5 seed Will Grant was beaten by 2014 Eddie Herr 12s champion Jung Won Park of Korea 6-3, 6-4.

I spent all day at the Boys 12s at Salvadore Park, where all the seeds in action won their second round matches, and only two of the 32 matches split sets.  A big upset was averted in the day's final match, with No. 1 seed and Eddie Herr champion Xiaofei Wang of China needing two and a half hours to subdue Tomas Moretto of Argentina 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-0.  Moretto was just as aggressive as Wang, handling the depth and pace of the top seed and capable of hitting winners when he got a short ball or had Wang leaning the wrong way.

The final set score looks like a blowout, but all the points and games were close, with Wang converting his opportunities, while Moretto made a few key errors.

The two seeded Americans, No. 7 seed Benjamin Kittay and No. 2 seed Hugo Hashimoto, got through competitive matches in straight sets, with nine other US boys advancing to the third round, including two qualifiers: Fnu Nidunjianzan and Evan Wen.  Kittay will play Wen in Friday's third round, with two other all-American matches, Hashimoto against Adit Sinha and Alex Han against Alexander Bernard, also on the schedule.

2014 12s consolation winner Aidan Mayo will play No. 9 seed Ashton Cross of Canada; Isaac Smith will face Christopher Li of Peru, James Delgado will play No. 8 seed Jewon Jeon of Korea and Martin Damm will face No. 9 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil.

Damm, the son of the former ATP Top 50 singles player and 2006 US Open doubles champion from the Czech Republic, is a 6-foot-2 left-hander, two advantages he seeks to use against his opponents.
"I'm a little stronger than them, they don't have as much power," said Damm, who lives in Bradenton, Florida and trains with Ashley Hobson at the Inspiration Tennis Academy there. "And with being left-handed, I have the out-wide serve, the forehand to the backhand, so I think it is an advantage."

Against Jala Sadek of Lebanon, Damm admitted to a bit of a lapse after a routine first set, but he recovered, winning the final four games in a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

"I just needed to focus more, get the ball in," said Damm, who was coached by his father prior to joining Inspiration Academy 18 months ago. "Not do mistakes, not go for big shots, just roll it high, and it worked."

Damm said he still works with his father when he is not traveling, but his father's ATP coaching jobs, which currently include working with Leander Paes and Blaz Rola, don't give him much time at home in Bradenton.

As for not being seeded, Damm, who reached the quarterfinals at Eddie Herr, losing to eventual champion Wang, doesn't let it bother him.

"It does not matter to me," said Damm, who will face Wang in the round of 16 if both win on Friday. "I just play whoever I play, and I try to do my best."

At the Girls 12s at Tropical Park, the top four seeds--No. 1 Noa Krznaric of Croatia, No. 2 Elvina Kalieva, No. 3 Kylie Bilchev of Great Britain and No. 4 Cori Gauff--all advanced to the third round without little difficulty.

Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.