Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Krueger Beats No. 3 Seed Shnaider, Three Other Americans Dodge Second Day of Rain at Wimbledon Junior Championships to Earn Wins; Stanford's Fery Moves on in Mixed Doubles; Atawo Named Head Coach at Washington State

A second day of rain Tuesday at the Wimbledon Junior Championships has put the schedule for the rest of the week in doubt, with only 14 matches finished Tuesday, with 22 first round singles matches yet to be played.

Unlike Monday, when the rain cleared for a lengthy window late in the day, today's weather arrived just a few games into the first matches, with resumption hours later, again just for a few games, when yet another delay was necessary. It after 6:30 p.m. when players got on court to stay, allowing only five boys matches and nine girls matches to finish, with the doubles scheduled for the day canceled early on.

Four of the five Americans who took the court today for first round matches won, with the two seeded boys moving on and two girls beating seeds, all notching their first Wimbledon wins.

Ashlyn Krueger, who defeated No. 3 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia 7-5, 7-5, accepted that the fits and starts due to the rain would just be part of competing today.

"I don't think I've had that many rain delays before, so it was definitely something new," said the 17-year-old from Texas. "I learned that you don't really get any momentum, so you have to kind of stay mentally strong and trust your game. You don't play a lot of points, you leave, you come back, so it's hard to get a rhythm."

Krueger, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, is at her best when she's not allowing her opponent to get any rhythm, and she credits grass with assisting her first strike tennis. 

"I really like it, it's fun and it suits my game well, so no complaints," said Krueger, who had no experience with the surface before Roehampton, where she lost in the second round of singles to champion Linda Fruhvirtova, and won the doubles.

 "I'm definitely a ball striker and I'm not going to rally 10, 12 balls. I'm going to use my pace, that's going to be my strength here."

Krueger converted all six of the break points she got from the French Open semifinalist, and she was able to bring that same focus on saving two break points in the final game.

"I think I just stuck to my patterns and played smarter on those points," said Krueger, who plays another Russian, qualifier Ksenia Zaytseva, in the second round. As for closing out the match, Krueger said she was able to "focus on my strengths, what will get me out of this situation, stay calm and positive. My coach tells me things before the match and I rehearse those over and over in my head. And it worked."

Ellie Coleman, who trailed No. 14 seed Michaela Laki of Greece 6-1, 0-1 after the first delay, found her game in one of the next two interruptions, coming back to earn a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory. She will face British wild card Kylie Bilchev in the second round; Bilchev won her first round match on Monday. 

No. 4 seed Bruno Kuzuhara was up a set but down a set point when he returned to complete his match with British wild card William Jansen. Kuzuhara saved that set point, but lost the next two points to send the match to a third set, which was moved to Court 18. Although Jansen had the support of the sparse crowd that was still on-site after 8:30 p.m., Kuzuhara won the last four games of the match for a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3 victory.  No. 13 seed Alexander Bernard avenged his French Open first round loss to Charleile Cosnet of France, a wild card in Paris who qualified at Wimbledon, with a 6-4, 7-5 decision. Kuzuhara and Bernard are awaiting their second round opponents.

Reese Brantmeier and Samir Banerjee, who were scheduled to play their first rounds on Tuesday, did not take the court. Elvina Kalieva[10] was on Monday's schedule but did not get on today; Ethan Quinn, whose match on Monday evening was suspended, did not get back on court today either. 

Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, the No. 8 seed, dropped the first set 7-5 to qualifier Kayla Cross of Canada, but Cross retired trailing 4-1 in the second set. Fruhvirtova wasn't entirely sure what the injury was, but said she didn't see any obvious cause for the retirement.

"She came with a taped quad, but she was moving very well in the first set, and the beginning of the second too," said the 16-year-old, who won the J1 Roehampton title last week. "She took a medical break, but at the score 4-1 she said she couldn't continue to play. I think it got worse during the last two, three games, because before that she was moving very well."

Fruhvirtova's second round opponent is Petra Marcinko of Croatia.

All 32 first round doubles matches are on Wednesday's schedule, but no second round singles matches.

US juniors first round results at Wimbledon Tuesday:

Bruno Kuzuhara[4] d. William Jansen[WC](GBR) 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3
Alexander Bernard[13] d. Charlelie Cosnet[Q](FRA) 6-4, 7-5
Ashlyn Krueger d. Diana Shnaider[3](RUS) 7-5, 7-5
Ellie Coleman d. Michaela Laki[14](GRE) 1-6, 6-2, 6-1
Nastasia Schunk(GER) d. Valencia Xu 6-3, 6-2

US juniors first round matches at Wimbledon Wednesday:

Reese Brantmeier v Nicole Rivkin(GER), postponed from Tues
Elvina Kalieva[10] v Isabelle Lacy(GBR), postponed from Mon & Tues
Ethan Quinn v Adolfo Vallejo(PAR) 1-2, suspended Mon, did not resume Tues
Samir Banerjee v Maks Kasnikowski[12](POL), postponed from Tues

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I had an opportunity to talk with Great Britain's Arthur Fery, the rising sophomore at Stanford, after he and Tara Moore(pictured above) won their second round mixed doubles match over No. 12 seeds Alexa Guarachi(Alabama) of Chile and Fabrice Martin of France. Fery and Moore were up 6-3, 5-3 when play was suspended last night, and they got the game they needed before the rain could complicate their day.

Fery, a wild card, had reached the final round of qualifying at Wimbledon, with wins over Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India and Matt Ebden of Australia before falling in five sets to ATP 124 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands.

Given that success, I asked Fery if he was planning to return to Stanford for his sophomore year this fall, and, unlike compatriot Alastair Gray, who is 23 and has one year of eligibility left at TCU, Fery did not equivocate.

"I'm playing this, enjoying my time here and then going back to college for next year," said Fery, who turns 19 next Monday. "And then we'll see after that.

Fery said that his time in college, even with an abbreviated Pac-12 season, contributed to his success this summer. 

"In this instance, I've played a lot more doubles this year than I've ever played in my life, all those college matches," Fery said. "That probably helped a lot. And overall, it's just growth for my tennis in general. I'm part of a great bunch of guys and the team spirit is great at Stanford, got great coaches as well, who are leading me in the right direction."

Fery is planning to take some time off after Wimbledon, then play some 15K and 25K ITF World Tennis Tour events, perhaps a Challenger, before heading back to California for the fall.

In other college news, last week Washington State announced former Cal star, NCAA doubles champion and top WTA doubles player Raquel Atawo (maiden name Kops-Jones) as their new head coach. Atawo, who was an assistant at Auburn last season, replaces Lisa Hart, who resigned after 19 years in Pullman. The Washington State article features comments about Atawo's hiring from USTA head of women's tennis Kathy Rinaldi and Cal head coach Amanda Augustus, among others.