Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Top Seeds in 18s Move On, Midwest Standouts Make Mark in Third Round of Kalamazoo Nationals

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Kalamazoo MI--

The top four seeds advanced with victories Tuesday in the rain-delayed third round of the USTA Boys 18s National Championships, but the first Top 8 seed fell, with Cannon Kingsley going out to No. 47 seed Andrew Zhang 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

"I came into this match not really expecting much," said Zhang, a rising senior from Bloomfield Hills Michigan. "Cannon's such a great player. Last time we played [2016 Winter Nationals], he crushed me, so I didn't have too high of hopes coming into this match."

Although Zhang recognized that he was playing well and Kingsley was not at his best, he didn't really believe that he was going to win the match until he held in a deuce game at 4-1 in the third set.

"To be honest, not until 5-1 in the third," Zhang replied when asked at what stage he started to think he could win the match. "I knew I was playing well and Cannon wasn't playing at the best of his game right now, but at 5-1 I thought, maybe you've got this one."

Zhang, who has committed to Duke for 2019, chalked up his victory to persistence.

"I stayed with him the whole match," Zhang said. "He hits so hard, I just thought I have to make more balls than him, stay in it longer than him and I was able to do that today. I think that played a role in why I won this match today."

Zhang wasn't the only Michigan product to advance to the fourth round, with No. 18 seed Steven Forman keeping his 2018 junior record unblemished with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win over No. 36 seed Robert Maciag.

Forman, from Troy Michigan, is an astounding 36-0 in junior events this year, and has lost only one set in that stretch, back in January.

"I've lost a couple of Futures [qualifying] matches," said Forman, who starts his freshman year at Michigan later this month. "Knowing the kids I've lost to have all been in their 20s, I just have confidence that I've beaten all the 18-year-olds I've played this year."

Forman, a physically imposing left-hander, did not face a break point in his match today, with that shot helping him overcome the nerves of playing on a main court at Stowe Stadium.

"I was pretty nervous, my first time playing a match out there," said Forman, who first came to Kalamazoo to watch his brother Brett, a recent graduate of the Michigan State program. "My serve kept me in it the whole time and I didn't get broken the whole match. That really carried me, especially down the stretch."

Forman said that visit piqued his interest in the sport even more.

"I was really hooked when I came here," said Forman. "I never thought a junior tournament would be like this, let alone one in Michigan. It's incredible the production they have and all the volunteers; it's really special to play here."

Forman will play No. 10 seed Trey Hilderbrand, who needed two and a half hours to beat No. 39 seed Nevin Arimilli 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Top seed and defending champion Patrick Kypson had no trouble advancing to the fourth round, beating No. 35 seed Daniel Pellerito 6-1, 6-0.  DJ Thomas, the No. 2 seed, started quickly, but only avoided a third set when he dominated the second set tiebreaker with No. 61 seed Eliot Spizzirri in a 6-2, 7-6(1) victory.

2017 16s champion and No. 3 seed Brandon Nakashima could not shake unseeded Alejandro Quiles, needing every ounce of his experience to come out with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory. Nakashima could not overpower Quiles in any of the baseline rallies, with Quiles also getting plenty of free points on his serve, but in the final game, with Quiles serving at 4-5, Quiles gave Nakashima an opening with a backhand error to start the game. Nakashima then got two overheads back in play and final forced an error with a rare slice to make it 0-30.  Quiles then really put pressure on himself with a double fault, giving Nakashima three match points. Quiles saved the first with an overhead winner, but on the second match point, his forehand went long, giving Nakashima his ninth straight win on the Stowe Stadium courts.

A second Top 16 seed exited the main draw in the third round, with 2017 semifinalist Ryan Goetz, seeded No. 15, falling to unseeded Robert Cash 6-3, 6-1.

The quarterfinals are set in 18s doubles, with the top 5 teams advancing to Wednesday evening's matches. Top seeds Kypson and Thomas won their third straight 6-2, 6-2 decision, beating No. 14 seeds Leighton Allen and Evin McDonald by that score. No. 2 seeds Hilderbrand and Govind Nanda won 6-4, 6-2 over No. 13 seeds Drew Baird and Max Wild. Third seeds Robert Cash and JJ Mercer defeated unseeded Huntley Allen and Coy Simon 6-1, 6-1 and No. 4 seeds Tyler Zink and Christian Alshon downed unseeded Russell Berdusco and Roger Chou 6-4, 6-2.

The boys 16s division is a round ahead after playing the majority of their matches indoors on Monday, while the 18s singles third round was postponed until today.  The change in the schedule had the fourth round of the 16s played at Western Michigan, as well as two rounds of doubles.

The top 4 seeds all advanced to Wednesday's round of 16, but No. 5 seed Logan Zapp, the reigning Clay Court champion, lost to No. 26 seed Aidan Mayo 7-5, 6-4.  Mayo, 15, has recently changed from a two-handed backhand to a one-handed backhand.

Top seed Keshav Chopra was forced to come from a set down for the second day in a row, but he defeated No. 18 seed Ishaan Ravichander 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-1.  No. 3 seed Alex Lee also needed a comeback, advancing past No. 60 seed Peter Murphy 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. No. 2 seed Maxwell McKennon defeated No. 32 seed Saiprakash Goli 6-1, 6-2, and No. 4 seed Zane Khan beat No. 20 seed  Jacob Bickersteth 6-2, 6-2.

In addition to Zapp and Zachery Lim, who lost yesterday, two other top 16 seeds are missing from the 16s fifth round.  Wild card Niroop Vallabhaneni, the No. 31 seed, beat No. 16 seed Karl Lee 7-5, 6-3 and Jack Anthrop, the No. 19 seed, defeated No. 11 seed Hunter Heck 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in today's fourth round action.

Dinner at the Nats, an annual event each Wednesday of the tournament, begins at 4:30 p.m. with eight 16s doubles matches, followed by the 18s doubles quarterfinals.

For draws, see ustaboys.com.