Thursday, December 7, 2017

Top Seeds, Three Wild Cards Advance to Orange Bowl Quarterfinals; Crawley and Brown Reach Semifinals in 16s Division

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Plantation, FL--

No. 1 seeds Whitney Osuigwe and Timofey Skatov have been solid at the top of the Orange Bowl draws, but it's been chaos below them, with only four seeded girls and three seeded boys advancing to the quarterfinals of the last ITF Grade A of 2017.

Osuigwe earned a 6-0, 6-2 victory over No. 16 seed Yasmine Mansouri of France, whom she had beaten last week in the Eddie Herr semifinals, while Skatov of Russia also dropped only two games, defeating Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-0. Skatov will play unseeded Admir Kalender of Croatia, who ended the run of qualifier Sumit Sarkar with a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 win.

Three wild cards have advanced to the quarterfinals, including 16-year-old Tyler Zink, who defeated No. 14 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4.

Zink, who has yet to drop a set this week, said his commitment to moving forward has paid off.

"He was kind of struggling when I would be more aggressive and come to the net," said Zink, who has been training at the IMG Academy since the beginning of this year. "So I was really working on my approach shot and my transition game, and it really worked out today."

Zink said he must keep that aggressive mindset as he develops his game.

"My goal is to go pro, so I know that's what's going to get me to the top, staying aggressive and going after my shots," Zink said.

Zink hadn't reached a Grade A quarterfinal before today, so that is something of a milestone for him.

"I knew it was something I could do," Zink said. "It's kind of coming together now and I'm really happy. My hard work is definitely starting to pay off and I'm very happy to be here."

Zink will face No. 11 seed Hugo Gaston of France, who beat No. 8 seed Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4.

The other American boy in the quarterfinals is unseeded Govind Nanda, who took out Texas A&M recruit Alejandro Vedri Asensi of Spain 6-3, 6-1. Nanda will face Dostanbek Tashbulatov of Kazakhstan, who beat wild card Brandon Nakashima 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-4.

The fourth boys quarterfinal will feature No. 15 seed George Loffhagen of Great Britain and unseeded Daniel Michalski of Poland.  Loffhagen, who had eliminated Eddie Herr champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria in the first round, took out No. 2 seed Uisung Park of Korea, who retired trailing 6-1, 4-0.  Park later returned to play doubles, so his injury or illness in the Loffhagen match was not serious.

The girls draw features the other two wild cards, with Abigail Forbes and Chloe Beck getting their second wins over seeds this week.  Forbes, who has won all her matches in three sets, beat No. 4 seed Yuki Naito in the first round and today took out No. 13 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.  Beck, who beat No. 2 seed Alexa Noel in Wednesday's second round, defeated No. 14 seed Layne Sleeth of Canada 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.  Forbes will face No. 9 seed Joanna Garland of Taiwan in the quarterfinals and Beck will play No. 6 seed Nika Radisic of Slovenia.

No. 5 seed Naho Sato of Japan will face Duke recruit Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine, who has beaten two seeds, both in straight sets, this week. Bilokin took out No. 3 seed Elysia Bolton in the first round and today she eliminated No. 15 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi 6-2, 7-6(5).

Osuigwe will face unseeded Vanessa Ong, who beat No. 8 seed Caty McNally 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, coming back from 6-2, 3-1 down.

"I think being down kind of loosened me up," said the 15-year-old Ong. "I was like, whatever happens, the pressure is on her, and I think that helped a lot. I started making more balls and as soon I started to make more balls, she started to get tight, I think, and that's when she started to miss more."

Ong has had a tough year, with a variety of injuries keeping her from playing.

"I got injured at the beginning of summer, and I didn't play a tournament until [ITF Grade 1] College Park," Ong said. "It [ab] still hurt, so I took off until the Grade A in Mexico and that was my first tournament back."

Ong won five matches in the three tournaments prior to the Orange Bowl, a positive development in her return to the junior circuit.

"I'm finally feeling a lot better," Ong said. "[The clay] definitely made it a lot tougher because of the long points, but it was a good way to get back and hit a lot of balls, just be back and competing."

Osuigwe and Ong played in May of last year in the quarterfinals of the Grade 4 ITF in nearby Delray Beach, with Osuigwe winning 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

The semifinals are set in the 16s singles, with two unseeded American girls advancing with three-set wins.  Fiona Crawley, the reigning USTA 16s Clay Court champion, defeated qualifier Hyeran Yun of Korea 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-2 and will face top seed Andreea Velcea of Romania. Velcea ended the winning streak of Eddie Herr champion Katrina Scott in a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 decision that took over three and half hours to complete.  In the bottom half of the draw, Jaedan Brown defeated No. 3 seed Oana Corneanu of Romania 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 and will play No. 13 seed Katriin Saar of Estonia.

Romanians dominated the boys 16s singles semifinals, with two of them, No. 3 seed Cezar Cretu and No. 6 seed Nicholas Ionel, meeting for a place in the final. In the top half of the draw, No. 1 seed Nini Dica will play No. 4 seed Sebastian Rodriguez of Peru. Ionel defeated No. 2 seed Eliot Spizzirri 6-4, 6-2 and Rodriguez beat No. 8 seed Blaise Bicknell to eliminate the two Americans in the quarterfinals.

The doubles finals are set for Friday, with three unseeded teams still in the running for titles.  Briana Crowley and Puerto Rico's Maria Aguiar will play No. 2 seeds Kylie Collins and Kacie Harvey for the girls championship.  Two unseeded teams from the United States will face off for the boys title, with Georgi Mavrodiev and Scott Sculley taking on Spizzirri and Spencer Whitaker.

Complete draws and the order of play for Friday can be found at the tournament website.