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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Top Seeds Osuigwe and Skatov Roll, Black and Loffhagen Survive Third Set Tiebreakers to Advance at Orange Bowl

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Plantation FL--

A three-hour rain delay had day two of the Orange Bowl extending well after dark, but all second round 16s matches were completed, as were the remaining first round matches in the 18s ITF Grade A.

The top seeds had no difficulty, with Eddie Herr champion Whitney Osuigwe defeating Selma Cadar of Romania 6-0, 6-2 and Eddie Herr finalist Timofey Skatov of Russia beating Jaycer Lyeons 6-0, 6-1.  Osuigwe's win sets up a blockbuster second meeting with 13-year-old US Open girls finalist Coco Gauff, who won her first round match on Monday.  Skatov will take on Leopold Zima of Germany, who beat qualifier JanMagnus Johnson 1-6, 6-0, 6-3.

It was not a good day for the No. 3 seeds, however.  Nicolas Mejia of Colombia went out to qualifier Marcelo Sepulveda Garza of Mexico 7-5, 6-4, and Elysia Bolton could not get on track in a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine.

No. 11 seed Ellie Douglas fell to Andreea Prisacariu of Romania 6-1, 6-4 and Eddie Herr semifinalist Stefan Palosi of Romania was beaten 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(1) by Andrew Paulson of the Czech Republic in a grueling contest that ended around 8 p.m.

No. 13 seed Tyra Hurricane Black survived a tough test, beating Eddie Herr semifinalist Viktoria Dema of Ukraine 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(5).

"I started out really slow and she was playing really good, so I was struggling a lot in the first set," said the 16-year-old Floridian. "I didn't really feel ready to come out and play. After I lost the first set--it was pretty easy for her--you kind of feel like you have nothing to lose, you just start to go for everything, change something in your game. I started placing my balls better, going down the line more and it helped a lot."

Black said she played really well in the second set tiebreaker, and continued with that momentum in the third set, but she was unable to close out the match serving at 5-4.

"I was up 5-4, 30-15 and my left thigh started cramping," Black said. "I got a medical timeout, they rubbed it out and I walked back out on the court. My fingers started cramping, my forearm, my other leg, both my legs started cramping, so it was kind of a disaster. But I just kept fighting on the court, and once the tiebreaker came, I just had to play free. If I lose, I lose, but if win it'll be really great, so I just went for everything."

Dema went up a mini-break at 4-3, but immediately gave it back with a double fault.  Black hit a forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead, then measured another strong forehand that forced an error to earn two match points.  She made an unforced error on the forehand side to lose the first, but Dema made an forehand error on the second to end the match.

Black's older sister Tornado Alicia, who recently had hip surgery and is planning to resume her tennis training in three or four months, was supporting her sister throughout the match.

"Every time she's come to my matches, I've won," Black said. "When I won Orange Bowl [12s], she came and coached me, so she's kind of like my side coach. Since I've grown up, I think I'm a little bit more difficult with everyone, but I'm still trying."

Black admits that Alicia's long layoff due to injury was a difficult time for her as well.

"It's been really tough being the only one in the family playing tennis, traveling and everything," Black said. "It made me feel really bad that she might not play again. When she had her surgery, I started feeling a lot more relieved. I felt so much pressure to do well when she was off for two years. It just feels a lot better now that I know she can come back."

The marquee boys match of the day pitted No. 15 seed George Loffhagen of Great Britain against unseeded Eddie Herr champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and it did not disappoint.  After three hours and 39 minutes, Loffhagen prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(1) after saving three match points at 6-5 in the third.

Loffhagen served for the first set at 5-4, only to lose the next three games with ill-timed forehand errors.  In the third set, Loffhagen fell behind two breaks at 3-0, but Andreev could not close him out, serving for the match at 5-2, 5-4, and after another rash of forehand errors by Loffhagen to get broken at 5-all, at 6-5.

Andreev had his first match point at 40-30, but missed a backhand long early in the rally. On the second, an excellent point from both players ended with Andreev netting a volley into the open court after Loffhagen's backhand forced a quick reaction. On the third match point, a long rally that Loffhagen took control of ended with Andreev's defensive shot going wide, and two forehand errors from Andreev later, a tiebreaker would decide it.

For all the drama of the match, the final game was a disappointment, although Loffhagen did come up with a couple of forehand winners and a fine touch shot on the backhand side. Andreev decided to just hit his forehand as hard as he could and those shots mostly landed in the net, giving Loffhagen an easy ending to a strenuous battle.

In the 16s, the boys seeds have held up well, with 12 of 16 advancing to the third round, including all four of the top seeds.  The girls 16s draw is a different story, with only four of the 16 remaining: 1, 3, 13 and 14.

The bottom half of the 18s doubles draws were scheduled to be played today, with the first round matches in the top half slated for Wednesday.  Eddie Herr champions Caty McNally and Osuigwe are the girls No. 1 seeds, with Mejia and Uisung Park of Korea the No. 1 seeds in the boys draw.

For draws, order of play and live scoring, see the tournament website.