Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Damm Defeats No. 2 Seed McKennon to Reach Kalamazoo 16s Quarterfinals; Top Six Seeds in 18s Advance to Round of 16; Semis Set in 18s Doubles

©Colette Lewis 2018
Kalamazoo MI--

Fourteen-year-old Martin Damm usually spends his summer in the Czech Republic, the home country of his parents.  This year, the Bradenton Florida resident requested a wild card into the USTA Nationals in Kalamazoo and in his debut has advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-0 win over No. 2 seed Max McKennon.

Damm, whose father Martin won 40 ATP doubles titles and the 2006 US Open with Leander Paes, said Kalamazoo offered an opportunity to get some matches after winning just two matches in ITF Junior Circuit events last month in the Czech Republic.

"I came hoping to get a couple of matches under my belt, since I wasn't able to do that in ITFs this year so far," Damm said. "I came here to win a couple matches, and now that I'm in the quarterfinals, have won four matches, I think my confidence is where it has to be and hopefully I can play my best tennis in the next couple of matches."

Damm saved set points with McKennon serving at 5-4 40-15 in the first set, and getting his first break there, winning the tiebreaker and then starting out the second set with a break boosted his confidence, despite his loss of the second set.

"He was still battling and he was better than me in the second set," Damm said of his fellow left-hander. "At the beginning of the third set he played the first three points on my serve really well and I went down 0-40 but I ended up winning that, won a tough game to break him, and then at 2-0 he had three break points. I think that game was the one that decided it all, when I went up 3-0."

Damm will face No. 7 seed Ryan Fishback in Thursday's quarterfinals, a player he doesn't know.

"I don't know 80 percent of the guys here," Damm said. "I know the kids from USTA and some of the kids from Florida, but everyone's good here, so I have to go out and play my best. I knew some of the top guys, knew I could hang with them on my better days."

Top seed Keshav Chopra dropped the opening set of his match for the third consecutive day, but he got through once again, beating No. 9 seed Marcus McDaniel 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.  Chopra will face No. 13 seed Andrew Dale, who reached the quarterfinals for the second straight year with a 7-6(4), 6-2 win over No. 26 seed Aidan Mayo. The first set of that match was an hour and 45 minutes long. No. 4 seed Zane Khan continued his march through the draw, defeating No. 12 seed Alexander Bernard 6-1, 6-4.  Khan faces No. 31 seed Niroop Vallabhaneni, who took out No. 8 seed Aryan Chaudhary 6-1, 6-4. The fourth quarterfinal will feature No. 45 seed Alexander Kiefer, another wild card, against No. 3 seed Alex Lee. For the third straight day, Kiefer defeated a player seeded above him, taking down No. 10 seed Spencer Brachman 7-5, 6-4.  Lee beat No. 14 seed David Lins 6-0, 7-6(2) to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Thursday's schedule will feature the 16s quarterfinals in both singles and doubles after the fourth round of 16s doubles were completed Wednesday afternoon.

Top seeds Chopra and McKennon will face No. 5 seeds Michael Andre and Daniel Milavsky and No. 9 seeds Benjamin Koch and Joshua Raab will play No. 27 seeds Ashe Ray and Maxwell Smith in the other quarterfinal in the top half.  The only unseeded team in the quarterfinals is Ben Shelton and Quinn Snyder who take on Jack Anthrop and JC Roddick, the No. 29 seeds.  No. 2 seeds Bernard and Logan Zapp will face No. 7 seeds Lee and Vallabhaneni in the fourth quarterfinal.

The top six seeds in the 18s division have advanced to Thursday's fifth round, with only one dropping a set.  Top seed Patrick Kypson beat No. 17 seed William Woodall 6-1, 6-1, No. 2 seed DJ Thomas survived a tough first set to take out No. 30 seed Alexandre Rotsaert 7-6(5), 6-3, and No. 3 seed Brandon Nakashima beat No. 32 seed Austen Huang 6-1, 6-3.  Fourth seed Jenson Brooksby had no trouble with the grand nephew of  the legendary Pancho Segura, beating No. 38 seed Matthew Segura 6-0, 6-1.  Fifth seed Tristan Boyer defeated No. 22 seed Andres Martin 7-6(1), 6-2 and No. 6 seed Drew Baird beat No. 28 seed Jake Sands 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

Two Top 16 seeds fell today, with Steven Forman, the No. 18 seed, beating No. 10 seed Trey Hilderbrand 6-2, 7-5 to run his junior winning streak to 37. No. 26 seed Stefan Dostanic, the 16s finalist last year in Kalamazoo, took out No. 14 seed Govind Nanda 7-5, 6-3, the second time in the past four months come out on top in a major event against Nanda, also getting a straight-sets victory in the quarterfinals of the International Spring Championships in April.

"I felt good going into the match, knowing that if I played my really good game, I can beat him," said Dostanic, a 16-year-old from Southern California. "But you always expect a tough match from Govind. The guy makes so many balls and he really makes you win every point, he doesn't give you any points. But I really played one of my best games and I was able to attack very well and finish off points at the net. It was just a couple of points late in the first set and the second set helped me win the match."

Dostanic, who said he has good memories from last year's trip to the final, where he lost to Brandon Nakashima, needed six match points to close out the win.

"He really made me earn it, he really gives you nothing and you have to come up with great winners and great shots against him and I think I did that very well," Dostanic said.

Dostanic will face Thomas for the first time in the round of 16 Thursday.

The Dinner at the Nats crowd Wednesday night watched the top two teams in 18s doubles squeeze out quarterfinal wins, with Nanda and Hilderbrand, the No. 2 seeds coming back to beat No. 8 seeds Ryan Goetz and Nakashima 6-7(9), 6-2, 10-3.  Top seeds Thomas and Kypson closed out the night slightly before 9 p.m. by saving three match points to get by No. 5 seeds Emilio Nava and Axel Nefve 6-7(5), 6-4, 11-9.  Trailing 9-6 in the match tiebreaker Thomas saved two match points on his serve with a forehand volley winner and a good first serve. With Nefve, who had won his four previous service points, serving at 9-8, Thomas made a great reflex volley that forced an error from Nava. On the next point, Nava missed a volley to give Kypson a chance to serve it out, and he did, with Thomas putting away a weak reply from a good first serve to end it.

Thomas and Kypson will face No. 10 seeds Boyer and Will Grant, who took out No. 3 seeds and Clay Court champions Robert Cash and JJ Mercer 4-6, 6-4, 10-6.  Hilderbrand and Nanda will play No. 4 seeds Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink, who beat No. 16 seeds Brooksby and Huang 6-3, 6-2.  Thomas won the 18s title last year; Grant and Zink were the 16s doubles champions. The 18s doubles semifinals are scheduled for Friday.

At the girls 16s and 18s Nationals in San Diego, the quarterfinals in the 16s and the fifth round in the 18s are set for Thursday.  Top 18s seed Kayla Day is joined in the round of 16 by No. 2 seed Whitney Osuigwe, No. 3 seed Coco Gauff and No. 4 seed Salma Ewing. 

Top 16s seed Gianna Pielet is through to the quarterfinals, but as in the boys 16s, the No. 2 seed was eliminated today, with Valencia Xu falling to a No. 17 seed, Misa Malkin, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.  See the TennisLink website for the draws and results from Wednesday.

At the girls 14s, top seed Elena Yu and No. 2 seed Priya Nelson have reached the quarterfinals. At the girls 12s, top seed Alexia Harmon and No. 2 seed Brooklyn Olson are also through to the quarterfinals.

The top two seeds in the boys 12s and 14s have also moved into the quarterfinals in Mobile: Rudy Quan and Andrew Salu in the 12s and Nicholas Heng and John Kim in the 14s.