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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Weekes Takes Out Top Seed Quinn, Canadian Girls Roll on at ITF JB1 Pan American Closed; Men's Qualifying Complete at BNP Paribas Open

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Nicholasville KY--

The top two boys seeds had their hands full today in the third round of the ITF JB1 Pan American Closed at the Top Seed Tennis Club. No. 2 seed Ozan Colak managed to survive the challenge of unseeded Sean Daryabeigi 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, but No. 1 seed Ethan Quinn couldn't put away No. 13 seed Jaden Weekes of Canada, who posted a tense 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Quinn was in complete control in the first set, but Weekes found his form in the second set and sustained it to start the third, taking a 3-1 lead. 

"In the first set he was outplaying me," said the 17-year-old left-hander. "First set, was too good by him. Second set I started finding a way to use my forehand more to reach his backhand and really open up the court, use my forehand more aggressively and come in."

That worked until Quinn began to hit his forehand more aggressively, saving break points to avoid going down 4-1, then breaking Weekes at love to pull even. Another hold and a break, and Quinn was serving for the match at 5-3, only to go down 15-40, with Weekes getting the break when Quinn shanked a forehand on the second break point. 

Weekes held for 5-all, and Quinn was unable to follow suit. After double faulting at 40-30, Quinn was able to save two break points, but not the third, and it was Weekes turn to serve for the match.

That game started inauspiciously, with a double fault, and Quinn had a break point at 30-40, but was unable to convert it. Weekes hit a forehand winner to earn his first match point, but Quinn countered with a forehand winner, and when Weekes missed an easy volley on his second match point, it looked as if his nerve might not hold. When a third match point was squandered with a wild forehand, Weekes could have collapsed, but he did the opposite.

Quinn blasted a passing shot at him, but Weekes, standing at the net, managed to come up with a soft forehand drop volley winner, a shot so remarkable given the circumstances that even Quinn took a moment to applaud it.

On his fourth match point Weekes bypassed any further tension, slamming an ace to secure what he called his best victory in ITF junior tennis competition.

"I am happy I was able to relax and not stress too much after having those match points and really focus on what I have to do," said Weekes, who trains at Tennis Canada's National Centre in Montreal. 

As for the drop volley, Weekes sees that part of the game as one of his strengths.

"I like coming into the net, I'm good at the net, so I'm really confident," Weekes said. "I maybe didn't want to put it that perfect, but it came out like that, so I'll take it."

On the final point, Weekes was determined to go for his first serve.

"I really went for it," Weekes said. "I said, ok, this is the one. I focused on getting high up, jumping so I could use my legs, and I got it."

Weekes will face No. 8 seed Cooper Williams, who defeated Luca Hotze 6-2, 6-0.

No. 4 seed Ryan Colby advanced when big-serving Leanid Boika retired with an injury trailing 6-4, 3-0.  Colby will face another unseeded player in Thursday's quarterfinals, with Michael Zheng taking out No. 5 seed Benjamin Kittay 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-4.

Kittay suffered an injury in the second set, and after a medical timeout, was visibly limping.  Zheng tried to put Kittay's injury out of his mind, but couldn't manage to shake Kittay, who favors shorter points even when at 100 percent.

"There was something wrong with him in the second, but he was still serving well," said Zheng, a blue-chip senior from New Jersey. "I let up a little bit after he got injured. I thought I had it in the bag, I thought there was no way he could keep going, it was pretty obvious, the way he was limping around. But he served well when he needed to. I tried to make the points longer, but he did a good job coming to the net on pretty much every point, so it was tough."

Zheng admitted to be discouraged at the beginning of the third set. 

"He served very well, made every first serve and I was a little bit negative, because I thought I should have closed it out in the second," Zheng said. "At 2-3, he had a couple of break points there and I thought he had it, I was mentally out of it, but he missed a couple of second serve returns and let me back in. The next game I broke, and after that he started to lose it mentally and kind of gave up from there."

Zheng, who has yet to take any college visits, says he hopes to make a decision by the end of the month. 

Zheng and Colby played back in August in the quarterfinals of the J1 in College Park, with Colby winning 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

In the bottom half, No. 9 seed Sebastian Sec defeated No. 6 seed Yannick Rahman 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 and will face No. 3 seed Jack Anthrop, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Nicholas Godsick. Unseeded Nicolas Kotzen advanced to a meeting with Colak, defeating Preston Stearns 6-3, 6-3.

The girls draw has gone remarkably to form, with no unseeded players advancing to the quarterfinals, and in the third round matches, all the higher seeds advancing.

Top seed Annabelle Xu of Canada trailed No. 16 seed Rebecca Lynn 5-2 in the first set before winning ten straight games and earning a 7-5, 6-1 win.  Xu will face No. 5 seed Qavia Lopez, who came back to defeat No. 10 seed Nevena Carton 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

No. 8 seed Gracie Epps was fighting for her life against unseeded Emma Charney, but after three hours Epps came away with a  4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win. She will face No. 4 seed Marina Stakusic, who beat No. 15 seed Ava Krug 6-3, 7-6(3).

For the second consecutive day, No. 3 seed Kayla Cross found herself down a set, but again she came back, beating unseeded Ariana Pursoo 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Cross will face No. 12 Liv Hovde, who defeated unseeded Cadence Brace of Canada 7-6(5), 6-0. 

The fourth and fifth Canadian girls in the quarterfinals will play each other in the bottom half, with No. 6 seed Mia Kupres taking on No. 2 seed Victoria Mboko. Kupres defeated unseeded Tatum Evans 6-1, 6-2 in a match that was much closer than the score, while Mboko eliminated No. 13 seed Sonya Macavei 6-4, 6-0.

In doubles quarterfinal action today, the top four girls seeds all advanced to Thursday's semifinals.  Cross and Mboko, the No. 1 seeds, will face No. 3 seeds Xu and Macavei and No. 4 seeds Kupres and Olivia Lincher will play No. 2 seeds Lopez and Stakusic.

In the boys doubles, the top two seeded teams are still alive. No. 1 seeds Colak and Colby will play No. 6 seeds Weekes and Marko Stakusic, and No. 2 seeds Anthrop and Kittay will play No. 8 seeds Evan Lee and Timothy Phung.

Three American men advanced to the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells today.  Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) defeated Stefan Kozlov 2-6, 6-0, 7-5; Ernesto Escobedo beat Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-4 and Maxime Cressy(UCLA) defeated Enzo Couacaud of France 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-2.

Main draw matches for women began today, and the men's main draw will start on Thursday.  Draws and the order of play are available here.