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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gupta Ousts Top Seed Khan in Boys 16s, Qualifier Cheng Advances at ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships; New ITA D-I Rankings; Tiafoe Among Eight US Qualifiers at Miami Open

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Carson, CA

The rain predicted for the Los Angeles area held off long enough to finish the first round of the boys and girls 18s singles and the second round of the boys 16s singles Tuesday, but the second round of girls 16s singles was cut short when a steady rain began to fall around 2:30 p.m.

All five seeds in the 18s who played Tuesday--Gianni Ross[3], Oliver Crawford[5], Nicole Mossmer[10], Hurricane Tyra Black[11] and Vanessa Ong-- advanced, but two of the top boys 16s seeds, who had byes in the first round, were eliminated.

No. 3 seed Niroop Vallabhaneni was beaten by Brandon McKinney 6-2, 6-1 and top seed Zane Khan went out to Aditya Gupta 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1.

Gupta acknowledged that facing Khan in the second round "was a tough draw," but he wasn't intimidated.

"I knew if I played my game and stuck with him, I'd have a chance," said the 15-year-old, who trains with Chris Lewis and Chuck Brymer at Woodbridge Tennis Academy in Irvine. "I lost a tight first set, conditions were pretty windy, but I started finding my range in the second and third sets, and was able to really dictate with my forehand."

Gupta saved two break points in the second game of the third set, then broke Khan, who couldn't convert three game points, to take a 2-1 lead. Gupta held in another deuce game to go up 3-1 and when he broke Khan for a 4-1 lead, he saw a clear path to what he called his "best win."

"I knew I just had to stay focused, because he was starting to break down mentally a little bit, a lot of double faults toward the end," Gupta said. "So I knew if I just kept putting balls back in, I'd be able to pull it out."

Girls 16s seed top seed Skyler Grishuk was able to finish her match before the rain arrived, defeating Payton Saca 6-4, 6-1.

It wasn't a good morning for the reigning 16s Orange Bowl champions, with both falling to qualifiers in first round 18s matches.

Steven Sun was beaten by Henry Cacciatore 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 and Katie Volynets, who won the ITF Newport Beach Grade 4 title on Saturday, lost to Vivian Cheng 6-1, 7-5.

Although Cheng characterized her win over Volynets as "lucky," but the 15-year-old from Santa Monica showed impressive composure in the latter stages of the match.

After dominating the first set with her depth and consistency, while efficiently putting away any short balls, Cheng did not let up in the second set.  Although Volynets may have missed a few more balls than normal, some of that was due to Cheng's aggressive play.  At 4-4 in the second set, Cheng got a break and a chance to serve out the match, but she was unable able to finish it.  Volynets was helped by a net cord winner, but she hit two forehand winners to break back and make it 5-all.

Volynets was broken at love in the next game, however, giving Cheng an opportunity to serve out the match a second time.  Again Cheng got a bit tentative and at 30-all, Volynets was able to force an error for a break point. A good first serve saved it, and Cheng went on to earn a first match point, but she overcooked a forehand putaway.  Cheng would earn a second and third match point, both of which were denied by Volynets, often after lengthy rallies that went from moonballs to half volleys to driving ground strokes and back again. Cheng saved two more break points in the six-deuce game, but she finally converted when Volynets return of a first serve went just long, finally ending the two-hour-plus match.

"I knew I just needed to keep playing, not try to change my style," said Cheng, who trains with Troy Collins in Santa Monica. "I couldn't play differently, I just had to keep playing the way I was."

Cheng, a sophomore on the Santa Monica High School team, competes almost exclusively in Southern California, with the only ITFs she has played the area tournaments held here this time of year.

After three straight-sets wins in qualifying, Cheng said her attitude was "just do the best you can, no real expectations," with that mindset helping her record her first main draw victory in an ITF.

"I think I played a little bit better than usual," said Cheng, who was hustling back to her high school classes. "I haven't had many big wins."

When play was called for the evening, seven girls 16s matches were in progress, with two matches yet to go on.  Several girls 18s doubles matches were completed, but there were no boys 18s doubles matches put on court at all.

For Wednesday's schedule, see the tournament website.

The Division I ITA team and individual rankings came out today, with the Florida women, despite a loss to Georgia, and Wake Forest men staying at No. 1. Click on the headers to go to the complete rankings at the ITA website.

The women's Top 10 team: (previous week ranking in parentheses)

1. Florida (1)
2. Ohio State (2)
3. Georgia (6)
4. North Carolina (4)
5. Stanford (4)
6. Georgia Tech (11)
7. Oklahoma State (8)
8. Vanderbilt (10)
9. Texas Tech (7)
10. Michigan (9)

The men's Top 10 team:
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Virginia (3)
3. Ohio State (2)
4. Baylor (6)
5. Southern Cal (5)
6. Texas (8)
7. Oklahoma State (5)
8. Texas A&M (11)
9. North Carolina (4)
10. UCLA (10)

No. 1s in the singles rankings also have not changed, with Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard and Francesca Di Lorenzo staying at the top.

The women's Top 10 singles:

1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (1)
2. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (2)
3. Ena Shibahara, UCLA (3)
4. Blair Shankle, Baylor (11)
5. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (5)
6. Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine (6)
7. Karla Popovic, Cal (9)
8. Eleni Christofi, Georgia (18)
9. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (4)
10. Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State (10)

The men's Top 10 singles:

1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (1)
2. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (2)
3. Cameron Norrie, TCU (23)
4. Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State (3)
5. Juan Benitez, Baylor (15)
6. Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia (9)
7. Alfredo Perez, Florida (10)
8. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (4)
9. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (7)
10. Michael Redlicki, Arkansas (6)

In men's doubles, Wake Forest's Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim returned to No. 1.  In women's doubles, North Carolina's Jessie Aney and Hayley Carter remained in the top spot.

The qualifying is complete at the Miami Open, with five US men and three US women advancing to the main draw.

Frances Tiafoe defeated Mathias Bourgue of France 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to join Ernesto Escobedo, Jared Donaldson, Christian Harrison and Tim Smyczek as qualifiers.  Escobedo defeated Renzo Olivo of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, Donaldson topped Stefan Kozlov by the same score, Harrison defeated Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 7-5, 6-2 and Smyczek beat Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 7-5, 6-1.

Varvara Lepchenko, Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend are the US women qualifiers, with Lepchenko beating Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, Brengle outlasting Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 7-6(2), 7-5 and Townsend beating Mona Barthel of Germany 7-6(6), 6-3.


Chris Lewis said...

Congratulations, Adi, from Chuck Erik and me and all at Woodbridge. And thank you, Colette, for such a comprehensive article.