Friday, September 10, 2021

Montgomery Reaches Singles and Doubles Finals at US Open Junior Championships; Top Seed Shang, No. 3 Seed Rincon Play for Boys Title; Ram and Salisbury Win Men's Doubles Championship

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Robin Montgomery had played a near-perfect match to defeat top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva 6-3, 6-2 in Thursday night's quarterfinals, but the 17-year-old from Washington DC was forced to win ugly in her US Open Junior Championships semifinal match Friday, with gusty winds making her 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over unseeded Solana Sierra a challenge from the first ball.

Montgomery couldn't find her range until the second set, while Sierra was able to put the ball where she wanted, despite the havoc the wind was causing.

"I was questioning how she was able to hit some of those shots because it was so windy," Montgomery said. "I'll give it to Solana, she was hitting her spots well, maybe a little bit too well. None of us here could keep that level for the whole match...I just tried to believe in myself, make the points a little bit longer."

As Montgomery employed that strategy, Sierra, who had won two consecutive matches in third-set tiebreakers, began to make more errors. Montgomery stepped up on the key points winning all the 40-30 points on her own serve, while breaking Sierra to go up 5-2 in the third set. The next game, which Montgomery admitted was partly due to nerves, was a nightmare; she failed to convert three match points, hitting double faults on two of them, but the fact that she would be changing ends kept her from any panic.

"There was more wind on that side, moving my toss around more," Montgomery said. "Even though she broke me in that game, I knew it was close and I was confident enough that I could close it out in my next service game."

True to her word, Montgomery made every first serve in her next chance to serve for the match, earning a place in her first junior slam final.

She will face No. 6 seed Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus, who produced a quick 6-1, 6-2 win over unseeded Sebastianna Scilipoti of Switzerland.

Dmitruk, a year older than Montgomery, will be playing in her first junior slam final in her last junior slam.

"It's my last grand slam, but I hope I will play others in the future," said Dmitruk, who turns 18 later this month. "A final is sometimes difficult to play, because you are nervous, but we will see tomorrow. I don't know about tomorrow, it will be a surprise for all of us."

The boys final will feature two left-handers: top seed Juncheng Jerry Shang of China and No. 3 seed Daniel Rincon of Spain who won their semifinals matches Friday in contrasting fashion.

Shang had his first straightforward match of the tournament, beating No. 11 seed Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France 6-4, 6-4, while Rincon had to compensate for an ailing shoulder to overcome No. 8 seed Jerome Kym of Switzerland 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Despite close matches throughout the week, Shang has been happy with his performance, and he likes the fast courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

"I think it's the courts that suit me really well, said the 16-year-old, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida. "It's really fast here and I'm the type of player who is attacking, being aggressive, so I think I'm playing really well this week."

Shang was especially pleased with his performance against Gueymard Wayenburg. 

"It went really well for me," said Shang, who reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the semifinals at Wimbledon, both as the top seed. "I played really good games, I was serving really well during the match, returning well. I think everything was kind of my side today. He got a little unlucky at the end of the first set, but on my side it was really high intensity."

Shang is making his debut at the US Open this year, and he can see a definite difference in the atmosphere in comparison to Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

"I was at the French Open and Wimbledon this year and the energy in New York, it's just different," Shang said. "Wimbledon is just more quiet. Here everyone is in a party, they're supporting players they like and I think it's really great. This would be a perfect party to go to."

Rincon is hoping to go out a champion in his final junior major, and he showed his mettle against Kym after failing to convert five set points serving for the second set at 5-3. Kym served for the match at 6-5, but Rincon, who had his shoulder worked on in the first set, held on, converted his eighth set point in the tiebreaker, and went on to build a 4-0 lead in the third set.

"Under normal conditions I would just go for huge first serves and try to finish it quickly," said Rincon, saying growing up playing at high altitude and often indoors has helped him on the fast outdoors courts this week. "But I had to play the points, and he was playing great, but I did a good job of making him play every point while staying aggressive, so I'm really happy with this win."

Rincon's 4-0 third-set lead dwindled to 4-3, but he held steady when he had a chance to close out the victory.

"I'm really enjoying my time here and I know it's the last junior slam I'm playing, so I'm going full out, trying to give my best, as I think I always do," Rincon said.

Montgomery and her partner Ashlyn Krueger will play in the girls doubles final Saturday, after the No. 3 seeds won two matches Friday afternoon and evening. The 2021 USTA National 18s champions saved two match points in their 4-6, 6-2, 15-13 quarterfinal win over No. 7 seeds Mara Guth and Julia Middendorf of Germany, then defeated top seeds Jimenez Kasintseva and Ane Del Olmo Mintegi 6-1, 7-5 to reach the final.

They will face No. 8 seeds Elvina Kalieva and Reese Brantmeier, who beat No. 2 seeds Dmitruk and partner Diana Shnaider 7-6(5), 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and No. 6 seed Alexandra Eala and Hanne Vandewinkel 5-7, 6-2, 10-7 in the semifinals.

The last American boys exited the US Open Junior Championships in the doubles semifinals. Bruno Kuzuhara and his partner Mili Poljicak of Croatia lost to Max Westphal of France and Coleman Wong of Hong Kong 6-4, 4-6, 10-4, while wild cards Ethan Quinn and Nicholas Godsick were beaten by No. 8 seeds Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria 7-6(2), 6-3.

Finals day for the juniors begins with the girls singles final at 1 p.m., followed by the boys singles final and the girls doubles final, all on Court 12. The boys doubles final is not before 3 pm on Court 11.

The first champions of the 2021 US Open were crowned today in men's doubles, with No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury earning their second major men's title as a team with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Ram, who played college tennis at Illinois, and Salisbury, who played college tennis at Memphis, won the 2020 Australian Open doubles title.

Salisbury will play for the mixed title on Saturday with Arizona State alum Desirae Krawczyk, who can become only the seventh player, male and female, to win three mixed majors in the same year. No. 2 seeds Krawczyk and Salisbury, who won the French mixed title this year, will face Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador(Tulsa) in the final.