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Friday, December 14, 2018

Orange Bowl Recap; Top B14s Seed Lilov Survives Tough Third Round Junior Orange Bowl Match; No. 2 Seed Yu Moves on in Girls 14s

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Coral Gables, FL--

Another Orange Bowl is still in progress, but my Tennis Recruiting Network recap of last week's ITF and 16s Orange Bowl in Plantation is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. Grade A champions Coco Gauff and Finland's Otto Virtanen talked about their goals for 2019 after winning one of the most prestigious events in junior tennis. Videos from the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl finals will be posted once I return home.  The Eddie Herr photo gallery is now available at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

I spent most of the day three of the Junior Orange Bowl at Crandon Park, the site of the first four rounds of the boys 14s. The draw has played out mostly as expected, with No. 7 seed John Kim of the US the only Top 8 seed to lose in the first three rounds. Unseeded Sebastian Gorzny of the US defeated Kim 6-3, 7-5.

Top seed Victor Lilov of the United States had lost only three games in his first two matches, but Alexander Visser gave him a battle today, with Lilov fortunate to get through in two sets 6-3, 7-6(5).  Lilov squandered an opportunity to close out the match earlier, when Visser was serving at 5-all 0-40. But Visser saved those three break points and another, forcing Lilov to hold to get to the tiebreaker.

"I probably thought too far ahead of myself," Lilov said of his lead in the 11th game. "A lesson learned there."

Lilov had a minibreak lead at 3-1, but gave it back on with a wayward forehand on the sixth point, and the remaining points went to the server. Trailing 5-4 with two serves, Lilov won the first with an ace and the second with a third-shot backhand volley winner, and secured the match point when Visser sent a backhand long after an extended rally.

"I was definitely not being aggressive enough in the match," said Lilov, admitting that the heat and the long points were robbing him of energy. "I knew I had to do something maybe a little different. He kept getting balls back, and I don't think I was moving the ball well enough. I was hitting deep and he kept getting it back. I wasn't coming in enough."

Lilov said playing the 14s now, after concentrating on 16s and ITF tournaments since winning the prestigious Les Petits As title in January, is part of his development process.

"I was always going to play this tournament," said Lilov, who went 5-0 in singles competition for the US team that won the ITF's 14-and-under team competition in the Czech Republic this past August. "I think you have to play your age group, to play with pressure, and I experienced that today, a little more pressure than usual. It's good to go through this."

Lilov, will play his fourth consecutive American opponent on Saturday, when he takes on unseeded Nicholas Godsick, the son of Tony Godsick, Roger Federer's agent, and Mary Joe Fernandez. Godsick defeated Cooper Williams 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, his third straight win from a set down.

The other two US boys from the team that won the title at the World Junior Tennis Championships also have advanced to the fourth round, and they will play each other.  No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Christopher Clement of Canada, and unseeded Evan Wen, a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 winner over No. 9 seed Kenta Nakamura of Japan, met in the semifinals of the Easter Bowl back in March, with Kuzuhara taking that match 6-4, 6-2 en route to the title.

No. 3 seed Chak Lam Wong of Hong Kong won over lucky loser Mark Taranov of the US 6-3, 6-2 and No. 4 seed Juncheng "Jerry" Shang of the US defeated No. 17 seed Will Mayew of the US 6-2, 6-0.

In the girls 14s, the top four seeds advanced to Saturday's round of 16, but No. 5 seed Vivian Ovrootsky was defeated, going out to fellow American Gracie Epps, a 17 seed, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.  Top seed Yayi Yang defeated Victoria Jimenez of Andorra, a No. 17 seed, 7-5, 6-3 and No. 3 seed Katja Wiersholm of the US defeated No. 17 seed Anushka Khune of the US 6-3, 6-0. No. 4 seed Melisa Ercan of Turkey continued her impressive play, losing just her fourth and fifth games in three matches in a 6-1, 6-1 win over Josie Usereau of Canada.
No. 2 seed Eleana Yu of the US had not lost a game in her first two matches, but she had a battle in the second set against unseeded Rhai Bhakta of the US before posting a 6-1, 6-4, victory.

"I thought that I obviously could have been somewhat better, but overall I was pleased with how I did," Yu said. "She was a lot more consistent than I anticipated she would be, so it was a little bit tougher in the second set. She changed up the momentum a little bit, to make me work a little harder for it."

Yu, the USTA National 14s champion, is playing in her second Junior Orange Bowl, after losing in the fourth round in last year's 14s. Yu played the 16s Orange Bowl, but had an elbow injury that put in doubt her participation this year.

"Coming from the 16s Orange Bowl, I wasn't exactly sure if I was going to play this or not," Yu said. "I still extremely wanted to and I didn't really want to end the year with a result like that last tournament, so I really had to convince my parents to let me come here."

Yu will face Reese Brantmeier, a No. 9 seed, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over fellow American Annabelle Xu, a 17 seed.

"I expect that match to be a lot tougher and a lot closer than the matches I've played so far," Yu said. "But I haven't played her in a like a year and a half; it's been a while."

The top three seeds have advanced to the round of 16s in both the boys and girls 12s.  Top girls seed Clervie Ngounoue defeated qualifier Sahana Madala, also of the US, 6-1, 6-1 and No. 2 seed Brooklyn Olson of the US defeated Mika Buchnik of Israel 6-1, 6-0. No. 3 seed Valerija Kargina of Latvia, fresh off a 6-0, 6-0 second round win, had all she could handle from Victoria Osuigwe, Whitney's younger sister, before coming back for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Boys 12s top seed Rudy Quan should be getting tougher matches, but today he did not drop a game against Matthew Yang of Canada. No. 2 seed Alexander Razeghi posted a tough 6-4, 7-5 win over Alejandro Arcila Zapata of Colombia, and No. 3 seed Antonio Voljavec of Croatia defeated qualifier Kosuke Asada of Japan 6-2, 7-5.

One of the most intriguing matches in the boys 12s on Saturday will feature twin brothers Meecah and Kaylan Bigun of the US. Meecah, a 9 seed, defeated qualifier Maximo Zeitune of Argentina 6-2, 6-2, while No. 7 seed Kaylan needed more than three hours to subdue Yubel Ubri of the US 7-5, 3-6, 7-5.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.