Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Blokhina Ends Losing Streak to No. 3 Seed Shnaider; Wild Card Smith, Lucky Loser Wiersholm Advance; 13 Seeds Fall on Day Two of US Open Junior Championships

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Alexis Blokhina has been playing on the ITF Junior Circuit all year, and with a top 100 ranking, has competed in seven J1s.  In three of them, the 17-year-old from Florida lost to Diana Shnaider of Russia, most recently at Roehampton on grass. With the other two losses, on South American and European clay, Blokhina could have been dismayed to see her fellow left-hander once again in her path at the US Open Junior Championships, but she gave herself a pep talk after seeing her 6-2, 4-0 lead become 6-2, 4-4 and secured an emotional 6-2, 7-6(5) victory.

Blokhina was obviously thrilled with the win when I talked to her (via a zoom call, even though we were both in the media center) after the match, and she is the lead story in my account of day two for the ITF Junior website.

But Blokhina was not the only American to pull off a surprise win Tuesday, with two players from the Pacific Northwest coming through against seeded opponents. 

Wild card Colton Smith, who began classes at the University of Arizona last month, dropped the opening set to No. 5 seed Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain 7-6(5). But he fought back in the second set, holding on to the only break of the match up to that point to take it 6-4. At the end of that set, Pinnington Jones appeared to suffer a cramp or a muscle pull in his left leg, and after limping through the first two games of the third set, both of which Smith won, Pinnington Jones retired.

Smith, the only American boy remaining in the top half of the draw, will face unseeded Pierre Bailly of Belgium, who defeated No. 12 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru 6-0, 6-3.  

Katja Wiersholm, who received entry as a lucky loser, continued her run with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 11 seed Mara Guth of Germany. Wiersholm, who is training in Florida now, but developed her game at Northwest High Performance Tennis, will face No. 6 seed Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus Wednesday. Her older brother Henrik, a star at the University of Virginia, was at her match today and said he was attempting to fire up her competitive instincts by reminding Katja that she could beat his best performance in New York by advancing past the round of 16. Mark Hanson, the director at Northwest High Performance said he is now no longer referring to Katja as a lucky loser, but rather as a skillful winner.

The only three seeds remain in the top half of the boys draw: No. 1 Juncheng Shang of China, who outlasted wild card Aidan Mayo 7-6(5), 6-3, No. 7 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and No. 11 seed Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France.

No. 4 seed Bruno Kuzuhara lost to qualifier Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

The bottom half features just one unseeded player, Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguay, who defeated No. 10 seed Sean Cuenin of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. 

The three other US boys to reach the round of 16 are all seeds in the bottom half: No. 6 Victor Lilov, who beat Philip Sekulic of Australia 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2, No. 16 seed Alexander Bernard, who defeated Max Westphal of France 6-3, 7-6(5) and Samir Banerjee.

Banerjee, who was back on a grand slam show court for the first time since winning the Wimbledon boys title in July, looked very comfortable in his 6-0, 6-4 victory over Max Rehberg of Germany on the Grandstand.

In addition to Wiersholm and and Blokhina, who are in the bottom half, two other American girls advanced to the third round in the top half: No. 7 seed Robin Montgomery and No. 12 seed Elvina Kalieva. Montgomery needed just 49 minutes to beat qualifier Annabelle Xu of Canada 6-2, 6-0, while Kalieva had a surprisingly easy go of it against doubles partner Reese Brantmeier in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Seven of the 16 girls seeds went out in their first matches of the tournament, with Wimbledon champion Ane Mintegi Del Olmo of Spain among them. The No. 4 seed lost to Solana Sierra of Argentina 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The first round of doubles was completed today, with the eight seeded teams taking the courts for the first time on Wednesday.

Results from Tuesday's second round singles involving Americans:

Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva[1](AND) d. Theodora Rabman[Q] 6-1, 6-0
Robin Montgomery[7] d. Annabelle Xu[Q](CAN) 6-2, 6-0
Elvina Kalieva[12] d. Reese Brantmeier 6-3, 6-3
Linda Fruhvirtova[5](CZE) d. Clervie Ngounoue 6-0, 6-2
Katja Wiersholm[LL] d. Mara Guth[11](GER) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1
Petra Marcinko(CRO) d. Ashlyn Krueger[16] 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Alexis Blokhina d. Diana Shnaider[3](RUS) 6-2, 7-6(5)
Sofia Costoulas(BEL) d. Madison Sieg[10] 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Michaela Laki[15](GRE) d. Ellie Coleman 6-0, 6-4
Alexandra Eala[2](PHI) d. Charlotte Owensby[WC] 6-3, 6-3

Juncheng Shang[1](CHN) d. Aidan Mayo[WC] 7-6(5), 6-3
Daniel Merida Aguilar(ESP) d. Dali Blanch[13] 6-3, 7-6(2)
Colton Smith[WC] d. Jack Pinnington Jones[5](GBR) 6-7(5), 6-4, 2-0 ret. inj.
Jakuk Mensik[Q](CZE) d. Bruno Kuzuhara[4] 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg[11](FRA) d. Ryan Colby[WC] 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3
Victor Lilov[6] d. Philip Sekulic(AUS) 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2
Mark Lajal[9](EST) d. Alexander Razeghi[WC] 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Alexander Bernard[16] d. Max Westphal(FRA) 6-3, 7-6(5)
Daniel Rincon[3](ESP) d. Aidan Kim[WC] 7-6(4), 7-5
Maks Kasnikowski[15](POL) d. Ethan Quinn 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(4)
Samir Banerjee[2] d. Max Rehberg(GER) 6-0, 6-4