Monday, July 10, 2017

Wimbledon Rookies Get First Wins; Riffice Ousts Fourth Seed Hsu at Wimbledon Junior Championships

©Colette Lewis 2017--

Playing Wimbledon is a dream come true for most juniors, and Patrick Kypson, Sebastian Korda and Elysia Bolton have even better memories of their first experience at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, with all three earning victories in their first round matches Monday.

Bolton had an extra challenge to overcome, as the 17-year-old UCLA recruit was drawn to face wild card Jodie Burrage of Great Britain on Court 4, one of the most prominent courts assigned to juniors in the early rounds.  With the local fans always supporting their compatriots, Bolton had to keep her focus on the court and serve as her own cheerleader, a task she accomplished in her 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

"When I saw I was playing a Brit I knew I was going to get Court 4 or Court 5," Bolton said. "Saturday I kind of watched both those courts to see what the atmosphere was like, and got mentally prepared for that."

Bolton said she realized she was on her own out there after one particular point.

"I hit a really good shot and it was like dead silence," Bolton said good-naturedly. "And I was like, come on."

The match hinged on the ninth game of the third set, with Burrage serving at 4-4.  Burrage went down 15-40, but saved those two break points and three more before Bolton finally converted on the sixth, with Burrage netting a forehand off Bolton's return of a first serve.

"I think she did a really good job when she was down," Bolton said of all those break points saved. "She put in some big serves at some big points. As I was starting to lose some of those, I was like, ok, just get this game, one point, one point. I was trying not to think of the past."

Bolton went down 15-30 serving for the match, but Burrage assisted Bolton's cause with an unforced error on the backhand side to make it 30-30.  But Bolton came up with two excellent first serves, with Burrage missing a return long to make it 40-30, then Bolton going up the T to end it, with Burrage unable to get her return in play.

"I love to serve at the end," said Bolton. "Especially with her big serve, I'd much rather be able to serve it out myself. At 40-30, I was just, OK, get the first serve in. I'd been going to her backhand because she was attacking a lot on her forehand, so I saw her kind of move over a bit, so I knew I was going T before I tossed the ball, just to get her out of her rhythm and it worked."

Although the crowd reaction was muted, Bolton celebrated, directing her joy toward her family in the stands, her mother Karen in particular.

"Whenever I win, I always look at her, it's like a thing we have," Bolton said. "It was really cool to be able to look at her and be like, I did it. We'd both never been here, none of my family had been here, and it's so cool. Strawberries and cream and everything."

For Kypson, who defeated Alexey Zakharov of Russia 6-4, 7-6(6), the nervousness he experienced at the French Open last month was such that he sought assistance before this event.

"I've been talking with my mental coach, Larry Lauer at the USTA, and he's helped me out with dealing with that better," said the 17-year-old. "Obviously there's just more pressure, because it's a grand slam, you know. I've been trying to play this tournament for 17 years, it's not easy to get out there and play. But I was pretty well prepared today, maybe some nerves the first two games, but then I was fine."

Kypson broke Zakharov at 4-4 in the first and served out the set, but he wasn't able to hold on to the only break in the second set, with Zakharov getting back even at 5-5.

"I double faulted, just barely missed a second serve and then missed a backhand, again just by a little," Kypson said of the 5-4 game. "I looked at my dad to see if it was in or out, because it was really close. Then he played a couple of good points and that was the break back, but I didn't think I tightened up. It was more he played a better game and I was enjoying playing so much.  But I held it together at the end, so it was good."

Kypson was up 5-2 in the tiebreaker, but a great drop volley by Zakharov got the minibreak back.  At 5-5, Kypson picked off a good pass and volleyed away the winner for match point, but Zakharov hit a good first serve and Kypson's return drifted long. At 6-6, Kypson came up with a perfectly executed cross court backhand pass, letting out a loud 'vamos' when it skipped past Zakharov.

"The whole match he'd been coming in there and I was kind of slicing it short, trying to get to his backhand volley," Kypson said. "I said I'm not chipping any more, I'm going to hit it and I rolled it cross."

On his second match point, this time on his serve, Kypson missed his first serve, but made his second, and an aggressive backhand down the line was enough to force an error from Zakharov.

The ending of Sebastian Korda's first Wimbledon win was less dramatic, with qualifier James Trotter of Japan, who had played well throughout the match, double faulting on match point to give Korda a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory.

Trotter had managed the only break of the first set, in a game Korda led 40-0.  Korda took a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Trotter won the next three games, leaving the set to be decided when Trotter served at 5-6.  At 30-40, Korda hit a return that appeared to many spectators on the baseline to be an inch or two long, but there was no call, and Korda had the set.

"I thought the ball was going out, so I kind of stopped playing," said Korda, 17. "But thankfully it wasn't. But we were both playing some good tennis. Every game was tough and you had to be focused the whole match. There were no easy points.'

Korda said the nerves Trotter showed at the end of the second set led him to believe he might have an advantage deep in the third set.

"He got nervous at the end of the second set as well, so I knew that if I could hold at 4-4, then I would have a really good chance to break and win the match. I saved a couple of break points and I knew he wasn't too happy about it, so I got really pumped up before the first point at 5-4 and it paid off."

The day's most dramatic junior match was No. 14 Sofia Sewing's 6-3, 6-7(8), 9-7 win over British wild card Ali Collins.  Sewing was up 6-3, 5-2 40-15, but she wasn't able to convert either match point, with a foot fault called on her second serve at 40-30.  Sewing kept calm, but her forehand went off in her next attempt to serve it out at 5-4, with an unforced error on that side costing her match point No. 3.

Match point No. 4 came in the tiebreaker, but again a forehand sailed long, and Collins capitalized on her third set point to send it to a deciding set.

Collins went up 4-0 in the third set, but Sewing fought back to 4-all, the 5-all, only to be broken, giving Collins a chance to serve for the match. At 6-5, 15-all, Collins took a bad fall behind the baseline, perhaps from a cramp, but after a visit from the chair umpire, she eventually got up and resumed play. Moving gingerly, Collins double faulted and made a forehand error to make it 6-6. After Sewing held for 7-6, Collins received a medical timeout and had her left leg taped, and she managed to save her fifth match point with a drop shot winner down 30-40. She held for 7-7, but Sewing began to hit out more, holding easily for 8-7. Collins couldn't summon any more magic, going down 0-40 in her next service game, and Sewing pounded a forehand winner on match point No. 6 to claim the win.

Top seed Kayla Day, playing in her first junior event of the year, didn't have a great serving day against qualifier Lulu Sun of Switzerland, but she managed a 7-5, 6-4 victory.  Day double faulted on her first two set points, at 5-4 and again at 6-5, but she finally converted her fourth set point to take the lead against the hard-hitting 16-year-old.

Day earned the only break of the second set, when Sun double faulted on break point to make it 5-4.  Serving for the match, Day, who caught her toss often, double faulted at 30-all, but two good first serves got her to match point. She didn't face another break point, but it took a third match point before she finally secured the victory.

"I was happy with the win," said Day, who mentioned that a shoulder injury kept her from preparing for the grass season as much as she would have liked. "It was a little bit of an up and down match. It's was OK, first rounds are always tough. The court I played on today was a lot quicker than the courts I have been practicing on, so that threw my timing off. But she was hitting a lot of good shots."

Day, whose WTA ranking of 124 qualified her for the top junior ranking this week, said she decided to play the Wimbledon Junior Championships for a simple reason.

"This is one of my favorite tournaments and it's my last year, so I wanted to play," said Day, who reached the semifinals last year.

Day doesn't feel that playing the Junior Championships puts her under any additional pressure.

"I don't really change my mindset," said Day, who is now working with Roger Anderson at the USTA. "I feel like a lot of people have this idea of pressure, but I don't see it as different from juniors and pros. Every opponent is very tough to play. I still get nervous in the pros, I still get nervous in the juniors, it's not really a difference to me."

Day, the reigning US Open girls champion, mentioned the group of American juniors she is traveling with this week as some of the strongest contenders this week, along with Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.

"Claire Liu has been doing really well," Day said. "Whitney, who won the French. I've never played in any of the same events as Kostyuk, but she won the Australian Open so she's definitely a good player."

No. 3 seed Liu, who won Roehampton last week, remained in top form, beating Tatiana Pieri 6-2, 6-1, the second time in two weeks Liu has rolled past the Italian.

The other US girl advancing to the second round is Caty McNally, who defeated No. 13 seed Xiyu Wang of China 6-2, 6-3. Wang was the only seeded girl to lose on Monday.

Roehampton finalist Sam Riffice took out No. 4 seed Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan 6-4, 7-5, and No. 13 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild was beaten by Italian qualifier Francesco Forti 6-4, 6-4.  No. 7 seed Trent Bryde lost to Blake Ellis of Australia 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-1.

Other US boys advancing to Tuesday's second round are No. 10 seed Oliver Crawford, who beat Toru Horie of Japan 6-4, 7-5 and Vasil Kirkov, who defeated Joao Reis da Silva of Brazil 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.

The complete draws are available at the Wimbledon website.

In women's action, CoCo Vandeweghe[24] and Venus Williams[10] have advanced to Tuesday's quarterfinals. Vandeweghe beat No. 5 seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(4), 6-4 and Williams beat No. 27 seed Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-2.  Sam Querrey[24] has reached the men's quarterfinals for the second straight year after defeating Kevin Anderson 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-7(11), 6-3.

Although the showers that were possible this afternoon did not materialize, the forecast is showing a much great likelihood of rain disrupting the second round of junior singles and the first round of junior doubles on Tuesday.