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Friday, December 16, 2016

Orange Bowl 16s Recap; Top B14s Seed Yunchaokete Survives, No. 2 Seed Lee Falls in Boys 12s

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--

Before getting to the results of the Junior Orange Bowl round of 32 action on a beautiful day in South Florida, here's a link to my article for Tennis Recruiting Network on last week's Metropolia Orange Bowl 16s championships, won by Americans Steven Sun and Katie Volynets.

I decided to go to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne for the boys 14s today, and I wasn't sorry, as the drive over the Causeway was as beautiful as ever, all matches went out on time, and there was a drama-filled marathon win by Bu Yunchaokete of China, who saved two match points in his 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(9) victory over No. 17 seed Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan.

Mitsui was struggling with cramps late in the third set, but did not receive any treatment.  The cramping appeared to cause Mitsui the most trouble on his serve, which had nothing on it in the late stages of the match, but Yunchaokete could not convert on his opportunities.

After saving five match points before the tiebreaker, it looked as if Mitsui's chances were fading when he went down 5-2 in the tiebreaker, with Yunchaokete having two serves to end it.  But he lost those two points and the two points on Mitsui's serve, and suddenly Mitsui had a match point.  Yunchaokete decided to serve and volley down match point and Mitsui's return found the net, so Yunchaokete decided to serve and volley again, and again, Mitsui's return was netted. On his sixth match point, Yunchaokete shanked a forehand, and when Mitsui hit a forehand winner, the young Japanese players watching the match on the nearby bleachers eagerly anticipated his success on his second match point.  But Yunchaokete hit a big forehand that forced an error then crushed an overhead for match point No. 7.  He failed to convert that, with his forehand going wide, and at 9-9, Mitsui had to remind Yunchaokete to switch ends for a third time.  Mitsui didn't get a first serve on the next point, with Yunchaokete blasting a forehand return winner by Mitsui to set up match point No. 8, and when Mitsui's forehand caught the net, the nearly three-hour struggle came to an end.

The boys embraced at the net, and the spectators, which included many of the players from matches that had finished earlier, reluctantly began to disperse, not quite ready to accept that the drama was over.

Yunchaokete will play Stefan Leustian, one of six US boys to advance to the round of 16, on Saturday.  Leustian, a No. 9 seed, defeated Barney Fitzpatrick of Great Britain, a No. 17 seed, 6-1, 6-0.

Unseeded Niroop Vallabhaneni defeated Bruno Oliveira of Brazil 6-2, 6-2, No. 5 seed Zane Khan downed Dusan Rsovac of Australia 6-1, 6-1 and No. 2 seed Alex Lee advanced with a tough 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 17 seed Natan Rodrigues of Brazil.

The other two Americans remaining will play each other on Saturday, with No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman meeting No. 17 seed Marcus McDaniel.  Brachman defeated Peter Alam of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4, while McDaniel took out No. 6 seed Han-chih Lin of Taiwan 6-3, 6-2.

At age 14, McDaniel is playing in his first Junior Orange Bowl.

"My level has been rising and I've been playing in bigger and bigger tournaments and having better results throughout the year," the Northern California resident said. "I wanted to get a taste of what international was like, so we came here for the experience, to see what the top players around the world are like, to see what I need to go back and work on."

Although he had no scouting report on his opponent, McDaniel implemented his usual plan against a player he did know.

"Everybody here has their strengths and weaknesses, and I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses so I go out there trying to bring out my strengths as much as possible," said McDaniel, who reached the quarterfinals at the National 14s this year, losing to Lee, the eventual champion. "I use the five-minute warmup to figure out my opponent and as the match goes on, evaluate what they're doing, see how they are changing during the match and capitalize on any opportunity."

McDaniel adjusted his serving, which he said is one of the strengths of his game, when Lin struggled on certain balls.

"I noticed he was having more trouble with serves that moved out wide, off the court," McDaniel said. "So after I served, I was able to take a step in and take the next ball early to the crosscourt side. I also noticed at the end of the match that he wasn't able to bend as low, because his legs were getting tired, so toward the end of the match, I was doing more slices, more flat balls, that he wasn't unable to get under."

McDaniel, who trains with Phil Cello, has also been working with his father and hitting with friends, but his training regimen is about to change dramatically soon.

"Starting in January, I'll be training with the USTA every few weeks for weeks at a time, in Orlando," McDaniel said. "I'm very excited."

At the boys 12s, No. 2 seed Haesun Lee of Korea was eliminated by Lucca Liu of Brazil 6-4, 6-2.  Liu will play No. 9 seed John Lasanajak, one of five Americans remaining, who beat qualifier Michael Zheng 6-2, 6-1.  No. 9 seeds Aidan Kim and Bruno Kuzuhara won in straight sets to join No. 3 seed Victor Lilov and No. 5 seed Evan Wen in the round of 16.

Lilov, who has not lost a game in his last two matches, has a tough match on Saturday against Eddie Herr champion Gunuk Kang of Korea, seeded No. 9.

Four US girls remain in the 14s, three of them unseeded.  Alexa Noel defeated No. 6 seed Jimar Gerald of Chile 6-3, 6-2, Savannah Broadus got by Ziva Falkner of Slovenia 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 and Maxi Duncan beat Corina Spasojevic of Canada 6-3, 6-4.  No. 9 seed Gabby Price downed Jiaqi Wang of China 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 and will face top seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia Saturday.

Seven US girls are into the round of 16 in the girls 12s, including No. 2 seed Cori Gauff, who defeated Rachel Gailis 6-2, 6-2. Gauff will face another American, No. 9 seed Anne Lutkemeyer, who beat Isabel Pacheco 6-3, 6-1.  No. 4 seed Katrina Scott survived Minseo Kim of Korea 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 and will play No. 9 seed Rebecca Lynn, who beat Mia Kupres of Canada 6-2, 6-0.  The winner of that match will face No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm, if she defeats Annabelle Xu of Canada on Saturday. No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Clervie Ngounoue, plays No. 9 seed Aliona Falei of Belarus Saturday.

Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.

How the Top 8 seeds have fared through round of 32:

1. Noa Krznaric (CRO)
2. Holly Fischer (GBR)
3. Qinwen Zheng (CHN)
4. Victoria Hu (USA) (withdrew)
5. Gianni Pielet (USA) out 2nd rd
6. Jimar Gerald (CHI) out 3rd rd
7. Emma Raducanu (GBR)
8. Ana Geller (ARG) out 2nd rd

1. Katerina Dimitrova (BUL) out 1st rd
2. Cori Gauff(USA)
3. Vivan Ovrootsky (USA)
4. Katrina Scott (USA)
5. Dasha Plekhanova (CAN) out 2nd rd
6. Katja Wiersholm (USA)
7. Robin Montgomery (USA) out 2nd rd
8. Tatiana Muzykantskaya (RUS)

1. Bu Yunchaokete (CHN)
2. Alex Lee (USA)
3. Alexander Gaponenko (ISR) out 3rd rd
4. Santiago de la Fuente (ARG)
5. Zane Khan (USA)
6. Han-Chih Lin (TPE) out 4th rd
7. Daiki Yoshimura (JPN)
8. Nicholas-Davis Ionel (ROU) out 3rd rd

1. Dino Prizmic (CRO)
2. Haesun Lee (KOR) out 3rd rd
3. Victor Lilov (USA)
4. William Jansen (GBR) out 1st rd
5. Evan Wen (USA)
6. Jose Maciel Neto (BRA) withdrew
7. Lun Obrul (SLO) out 1st rd
8. Patrick Brady (THA) out 1st rd