Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Vagramov Takes Out No. 2 Seed as Rain Forces All Second Round Singles Indoors at ITF Grade 1 International Hard Courts; Korda Among 13 Americans Advancing to Second Round of US Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2018--
College Park MD--

Rain that was predicted for the Washington DC area arrived just as players were taking the court for second round matches Tuesday morning at the ITF Grade 1 Prince George's County International Hard Court Championships. Fortunately the Junior Tennis Champions Center had eight indoor courts available, and the second round of singles were completed indoors, although many first round doubles matches were postponed.

The most significant upset was Alexandra Vagramov's 2-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 win over No. 2 seed Lea Ma, one of eight girls second round matches that went to three sets.

Vagramov, a 17-year-old Canadian, had lost to Ma twice in the past 14 months, including in the semifinals of January's ITF Grade 1 in Costa Rica. Yet even after dropping the first set, Vagramov was convinced she could come back.

"In the first set, she was playing pretty aggressive and my game, I was just making too many errors, there were too many loose points," Vagramov said. "But I knew in the second, if I could just stay with her, but longer, find the opportunities to finish the points, I knew I could do it."

Being from Vancouver, Vagramov is comfortable indoors.

"I train a lot indoors in Canada, so I think that could have helped a bit," Vagramov said. "I think it helped my serve a lot."

Vagramov is nearly 100 places lower than Ma in the ITF Junior rankings, so it was a satisfying win for her, particularly after the two previous losses.

"She's a good player, really highly ranked, so it was a good opportunity, and it wasn't easy, obviously," Vagramov said. "I knew I had to stay in the points a bit longer, because I knew my shots were hard enough to penetrate the court if I could stay in the points and not make loose errors. My last junior results weren't too good, so today was a really good match and I'm happy."

Another Top Four girls seed fell, with 15-year-old Alexandra Yepifanova beating No. 4 seed Hong Yi Cody Wong 6-2, 6-7(3), 7-6(4). Yepifanova, who is at least a foot taller than the diminutive Wong, served for the match twice in the second set, letting at least one match point slip away, but managed to maintain her composure and sneak out the win.

Only one boys seed fell today, with No. 12 Tyler Zink losing to Liam Draxl of Canada 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, but several had tough battles. No. 3 seed Tao Mu of China was tested by Zane Khan 4-6, 6-3, 5-3 retired, with the Kalamazoo 16s finalist again hampered by blisters. Khan took a medical timeout to have his foot wrapped, but during the next changeover in the second set, he undid the trainer's work. Mu looked to be suffering physically himself late in the third set, but Khan was focused on his own physical problems, visibly limping after a strenuous point, and after he was broken serving at 3-4, he retired.

No. 5 seed Juan Cerundolo of Argentina was up 7-5, 4-1 on Filippo Moroni, but he couldn't close out the Italian, who was eager to finish points at the net when given the opportunity. Moroni stayed with him until the end, but Cerundolo earned the 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-5 victory.  No. 13 seed Dostanbek Tashbulatov of Kazakhstan dropped the first set to Adam Neff, but fought back to force a third. In the final set, the first break came at 4-4, with Tashbulatov getting it and serving out the match at 40-30 for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

In all, seven of the 16 boys second round matches went three sets.

Any boys who played singles Tuesday did not play their first round doubles matches, which were rescheduled for Wednesday. The bottom half of the girls doubles draw did complete their first round doubles matches, with some played indoors and some outdoors later Tuesday evening.

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

The first day of US Open qualifying is complete with Americans posting 13 wins against 10 losses.

Those advancing to the second round Thursday are: Kristie Ahn, Nicole Gibbs[10], Varvara Lepchenko[13], Gail Brodsky, Jessica Pegula, Jamie Loeb, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Bjorn Fratangelo, Evan King, Christian Harrison, JC Aragone, Donald Young and Sebastian Korda.  Korda defeated Dennis Novikov 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to pick up a win in his slam qualifying debut.

Seventeen Americans are on the schedule for Wednesday, all in first round action:  Coco Gauff, Danielle Lao, Lauren Davis, Madison Brengle[3], Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Grace Min, Ashley Kratzer, Irina Falconi, Ernesto Escobedo, Brandon Nakashima, Martin Redlicki, Reilly Opelka, Chris Eubanks, Collin Altamirano, Mitchell Krueger, Thai Kwiatkowski and Ulises Blanch.

The women's qualifying draw is here; the men's qualifying draw is here.