Explore the Junior Tennis Champions Center's high performance program by clicking on the banner above

Monday, November 26, 2018

My Conversation with Katie Volynets; Several Eddie Herr ITF Qualifiers End Grueling Two-Day Stretch with Main Draw Victories, Seven Seeds Drop Opening Matches

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Before I get into my daily coverage of the Eddie Herr International Championships, here's a link to my recent conversation with 16-year-old Katie Volynets, who has recently moved away from ITF Junior Circuit events and into the Pro Circuit. Because I knew I wasn't going to be seeing her at these Florida junior events, I made arrangements to talk to Volynets last week by phone, and we had a chance to discuss her plans as she prepares for the new ITF World Tennis Tour in 2019 for this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

Forty-seven first round singles matches were on the schedule for the ITF Grade 1 at the IMG Academy, and 11 of the 16 qualifiers found themselves playing their third standard best-of-three-sets matches in the space of 24 hours. In past years, the qualifiers received Monday off after playing two matches on Sunday, but that was not the case this year, with seven of the eight girls who qualified and four of the eight boys who qualified getting a test of their stamina on a warm and humid day in Bradenton.

Four of the girls came away with victories and can look forward to a well deserved day off (from singles) on Tuesday: Mara Guth and Alexandra Vecic of Germany, and Americans Abigail Forbes and Sasha Yepifanova.

Yepifanova, 15, defeated ITF No. 70 Gabriela Martinez Asensi of Spain 6-0, 6-2, her fourth straight-sets win since qualifying began on Saturday.

"This is my third consecutive tournament and I've been playing almost every day," said Yepifanova, who also qualified for the Grade A last week in Yucatan and won two matches before falling to ITF World Junior No. 1 Clara Burel of France. "So yes, I'm tired, but I'm still ready to fight. I've had good matches, I'm playing well, I'm motivated, excited to play. I'm tired, but I still want to keep going. I'm pumped up to play."

Yepifanova said she was surprised to see her name on Monday's schedule.

"My dad was kidding that we'd look at the draw and I would be playing at 8 a.m.  Well, it wasn't 8 a.m., but it was 9 a.m., so almost the same thing."

Playing a Spaniard on clay isn't generally a recipe for a quick match, and Yepifanova did need over 15 minutes to hold in the first game, but she took over from there.

"I watched her match yesterday, so I was kind of prepared for the way she played," said Yepifanova, who trains primarily with Konstantin Anisimov, supplemented by regular workouts at Nunez Tennis Training in Aventura Florida. "But I mean, I just thought if I play my game, everything would be all right."

Yepifanova said she trains exclusively on hard courts, but can see how clay is good for her game.

"I'm a big hitter, I hit big shots, so it kind of gives me time to prepare and load for my shots, so yeah, I like clay," Yepifanova said.
Of the four boys qualifiers who played Monday, only one, former ITF Junior No. 31 Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil advanced, beating wild card Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 6-4, 6-2. One who lost, Filip Krolo of Germany, participated in the most contentious match of the day, with wild card Jacob Bullard earning a 7-5, 6-1 victory after Krolo led 5-2 in the opening set.

Krolo was unhappy that the roving umpire ruled two marks in Bullard's favor, both of which cost Krolo points, and the 17-year-old accused the umpire of siding with Bullard because they were both Americans. Krolo was not penalized for those remarks, but later received, from another roving umpire, two code violations for ball abuse, one for both the racquet and ball sailing toward the net, and the second for hitting the ball into the nearby pond adjacent to Court 5. The referee was called to court during that stretch, early in the second set, and spent ten or 15 minutes talking with Krolo's team on sidelines, but no further incidents occurred and when Bullard closed out the match by breaking Krolo, the players did participate in the usual post-match handshake.

"I was down 2-5 and I kept battling," said Bullard, who signed with the University of Texas 10 days ago. "The kid was playing really well. I started to come back, I held at 2-5, and then there was a point at deuce where I circled the mark and the ref agreed with my call. He and his team totally flipped out and after that, I felt it was definitely a confidence booster and momentum swing for me, because I saw how negative he was getting, how much distraction there was on his side because of all the antics going on with his team. I think it ultimately cost him, because he just completely lost focus. He had a lot of negative energy from his team coming towards him, the referees, and that's definitely mentally taxing. I'm just glad I was able to keep my focus and raise my level."

Both No. 4 seeds lost Monday, with Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine going out to Alice Tubello of France 6-0, 6-2 and Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic ousted by wild card Andres Martin 6-0, 7-5.  Boys No. 5 seed Gauthier Onclin of Belgium was beaten by Harry Wendelken of Great Britain 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-5; Zane Khan defeated No. 10 seed Harold Mayot of France 6-4, 6-4; Mathys Erhard of France took out No. 12 seed Otto Virtanen of Finland 6-1, 6-1.  Other girls seeds to lose were No. 10 Sada Nahimana of Burundi, who lost to Elsa Jacquemot of France 6-3, 6-4 and No. 14 seed Chloe Beck, who lost to Helene Pelicano of Malta 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

All the seeded US boys on Monday's schedule won their opening round matches in straight sets: Tyler Zink[9], Govind Nanda[11] and Eliot Spizzirri[13]. The seeded US girls advancing were No. 3 Lea Ma and No. 13 seed Gabby Price.

Only 17 singles matches are on the ITF schedule for Tuesday, but both No. 1 seeds, Alexa Noel and defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, are in action, as is No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China put on an impressive performance this morning, beating USTA Clay Court 18s champion Emma Navarro 6-1, 6-0.

All 32 first round doubles matches are on Tuesday's schedule, with Ma and Zheng the No. 1 seeds in the girls draw, and Mejia and Filip Jianu of Romania the top seeds in the boys draw.

Rain arrived in Bradenton about 15 minutes after the 18s finished, but many of the first round 14s and 16s singles matches on the hard courts at the IMG Academy were disrupted by the storm.  A two- to three-hour delay in starting due to damp courts in the morning also was a factor in the first round not being finished on Monday. Results for the matches that were completed can be found on the TennisLink site.


Max said...

Thank you for your great reports!
I always read them when I have the time.

Could you please watch the R2 girls match Guth vs Bartone?
They are 2 very promising girls! One of the best in the girls field in my opinion.
So it will be worth to watch, I'm sure! And please write a report about this exciting match :-) Thanks.