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Monday, December 4, 2017

Forbes Saves Three Match Points to Oust Fourth Seed in Orange Bowl First Round; USA Collegiate Team Falls in Master'U Final; Ewing Wins $15K in South Africa; LA Tennis Bash Set for Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Plantation, FL--

The first day of the Orange Bowl, the final Grade A event of 2017, saw five seeds fall, although many seeds, including No. 1s Whitney Osuigwe and Timofey Skatov, will not play their first round matches until Tuesday.

Vanessa Ong took out No. 12 seed Ana Hertel of Poland 6-3, 6-3, Oona Orpana of Finland beat No. 10 seed Hailey Baptiste 6-7(8), 6-0, 6-0, but it was wild card Abigail Forbes who brought the drama to the Grandstand Court of the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, saving three match points in a 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Yuki Naito of Japan.

Naito, ranked 27, in contrast to Forbes' ITF ranking of 303[now 236 this week after making the third round as a qualifier at the Eddie Herr], served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, and went up 40-15.  She squandered the first match point with a double fault, but Forbes hit the sideline with a forehand to bring it back to deuce. After a forehand winner gave Naito a third match point, she lost a long rally when her defensive forehand floated deep.  She never saw another match or game point, with Forbes hitting a forehand winner to make it 5-all, the holding with a good first serve at 40-30 to go up 6-5.

The final game was something of a disaster for Naito, who had a group of enthusiastic young Japanese supporters cheering her on in the bleachers.  She made four errors, one of them forced by Forbes, with the final one a backhand well beyond the baseline.

Forbes said she was not keeping track of the match points.

"I honestly didn't notice," the 16-year-old from North Carolina said. "I was in a zone. I told myself I needed to swing through my forehand, because I found a lot of them were landing really short. I knew she loved any ball in her strike zone, so I tried my hardest to play my best, swing through the ball and swing freely."

Forbes, who had many of the top college coaches watching her match, said the Har-Tru surface of the Veltri Tennis Center is similar to what she normally trains on, only better.

"I train on it at home pretty much every day," said Forbes, who is coached by Cameron Moore in Cary. "Our clay back home is a lot worse than this. This is really nice compared to what I train on."

While Eddie Herr champion Osuigwe will play Selma Cadar of Romania on Tuesday, No. 2 seed Alexa Noel was in action Monday, also on the Grandstand Court.  Noel added to her junior winning streak, now at 13, with a tough 6-3, 7-5 win over Stefania Rogozinska Dzik of Poland, winning the final five games of the match as the sun set and the lights came on.  Noel, who won the Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City and the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup two weeks ago, will face wild card Chloe Beck in the second round Wednesday.

Only two boys seeds lost Monday, with Govind Nanda defeating No. 9 seed Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0 and No. 16 seed Filip Jianu of Romania falling to Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2.

The 16s first round was completed Monday, with only two boys seeds, No. 15 Diego Gonzalez of Venezuela and No. 16 Michael Eala of the Philippines failing to advance.  Six girls seeds lost in the first round, with No. 2 seed Romina Ccuno of Peru a late withdrawal.  Andreea Velcea and Nini Dica, both of Romania are the top seeds in the girls and boys draws, respectively.

Eddie Herr champion 16s Katrina Scott won her first round match, beating qualifier Madison Bishop of Australia 6-1, 6-4, but Eddie Herr 14s champion Vivian Ovrootsky lost to Ziva Falkner of Slovenia, a quarterfinalist at the ITF Eddie Herr last week, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Katie Volynets, who won the 16s Orange Bowl last year, lost to Clara Tauson of Denmark 6-1, 6-0.

Draws, Tuesday's order of play and a link to the live scoring is available at the tournament website.

In other news over the weekend, the collegiate team from the United States saw its winning streak end at the Master'U BNP Paribas in France, falling 4-2 to the team from Great Britain in the finals. The US team had won six straight titles, with their last loss to France back in 2010. For more on this year's runnerup finish, see this USTA article.

University of Southern California recruit Salma Ewing won her first Pro Circuit title at the $15,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in South Africa. The 17-year-old qualifier beat the top two seeds during her run to the title, taking out No. 2 seed Anastasia Pribylova of Russia in the quarterfinals and defeating No. 1 seed Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Waco Texas, No. 5 seed Alexander Ward of Great Britain won his second straight title, beating 18-year-old qualifier DJ Thomas 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Former Baylor Bears Julian Lenz of Germany and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating top seeds Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) and Alex Lawson(Notre Dame) 7-6(5), 1-6, 14-12 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Panama, 15-year-old Sasha Wood won her first ITF junior singles title. The No. 1 seed, Wood took the winner's trophy when No. 4 seed Josefa Rosario Fernandez of Chile retired trailing 6-3, 1-2.

If you are in the Southern California area, consider attending the LA Tennis Bash this coming Saturday, December 9, at the Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates.  As you can see from the announcement below, an impressive array of current and former WTA and ATP stars will be hitting with juniors and adults to benefit the First Break Academy.

First Break Academy To Host Los Angeles Tennis Bash 2017
At Historic Jack Kramer Club On Saturday, Dec. 9

Tennis Legends Past and Present To Appear At Tennis Clinic and Benefit To Raise Funds For Local Multi-Sport Tennis and Learning Programs For Deserving Youth

CARSON, Calif. (Dec. 4, 2017) – Southern California-based First Break Academy will close out a successful 2017 by hosting a morning of tennis clinics and games for juniors and adults at the historic Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Area professional tennis stars past and present will be on court hitting with kids and adult event participants. Pros expected to attend include 22-time Grand Slam champion and First Break benefactor Pam Shriver; two-time US Open champion former world No. 1 Tracy Austin; current WTA pros Shelby Rogers and Nicole Gibbs; and current ATP pros Steve Johnson, Jared Donaldson, Taylor Fritz and Bradley Klahn, among others. The star-studded event will also include former Grand Slam champion Kimberly Po, Jeff Tarango, who was recently named the new director of tennis at the Kramer Club, and former WTA pro Lauren Embree, the women’s assistant coach at Pepperdine University, which will also be represented by players from the team.

“For the past few years, First Break Academy has brought children to tennis who might otherwise not have been exposed to the sport,” she the Hall of Famer Shriver. “Multi-sport play like basketball is merged into early tennis instruction with great success. It's a win-win model.”

The day will also include competitive tennis games for all levels, a Head Racquet Demo Court, MultiSport Kid Zone, lunch and silent auction.

“We are incredibly grateful for the many pros and friends who have signed on to participate in the event,” said Peggy Bott, First Break Academy Executive Director. “We have made tremendous strides in a short time, and wish to build and continue to fund scholarships for dedicated youth who attend our tennis and learning programs.”

To Register for LA Tennis Bash 2017, go to: www.first1break.com. Tickets are $75 for adults and $40 for juniors (17 and under) and spectators are $35, which includes lunch and the silent auction access. Levels of sponsorships include: Champion ($1,500), Finalist ($750), Semifinalist ($500), Quarterfinalist ($250) and Friend ($50), and auction items exceeding $100 are also being accepted.

Bott has announced that WTA Charities has signed on with the event as a Champion-level sponsor with both Shriver and Austin serving on the Board of Directors. There are three pillars of action within WTA Charities, including service, assistance aimed at those in need and support reinforcing WTA members’ charitable initiatives through financial and promotional efforts and aligning with organizations that help advance lives through empowerment, equality and care for others. For more information, go to: http://www.wtatennis.com/news/legends-lead-wta-charities

L.A. Tennis Bash 2017 committee members include Bott, Rick Buchta, Jeff Tarango, Marc Lucero, Shriver, Sophia Bott, Stacey Sewell, Craig Purcell and Trynna Johnson.

Located at StubHub Center, home of the USTA Training Center - West, First Break Academy is an award winning 501(c3) comprehensive tennis outreach initiative launched in October 2014 by friends of the game of tennis. The First Break mission is to empower kids and positively impact their futures by championing access to excellent tennis programs featuring multisport play activities and academic enrichment. The United States Tennis Association Foundation ACE (Academic Creative Engagement) grant awards help fund the First Break AfterSchool tennis and learning activities held at StubHub Center. The First Break team has shared the game of tennis with over 500 local students; and more than 1,000 hours of instruction have been donated. First Break Academy is a member of the LA84 SCTA NJTL chapter and is a three-peat winner of the USTA Diversity & Inclusion’s Multicultural Program Excellence Award. For more information, visit: www.first1break.com.