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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Americans Sweep 12s and 16s Singles Titles at Eddie Herr International Championships; After Tough Semifinal Wins, Fruhvirtova Sisters Meet in Third Straight Final, Feldbausch Beats Top Seed Kuzuhara to Advance Against Bielinskyi in ITF J1

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton FL--

The Eddie Herr International Championships concluded for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions on another bright and warm day at the IMG Academy, with Americans claiming four of the six singles titles on offer Saturday morning.

The quickest and most impressive performance of the day belonged to 15-year-old Californian Rudy Quan, who defeated fellow wild card Lorenzo Carboni of Italy 6-0, 6-1 in just over an hour.

Quan had a decided advantage against Carboni, who beat wild card Andrew Delgado 6-1, 7-6(1) in physical semifinal match, while Quan received a walkover from No. 2 seed Rei Sakamoto of Japan, giving him an opportunity to scout his finals opponent.

"I think it helped me, because frankly I was a bit tired going into Friday," Quan said. "And I was able to hang out with friends and study them. I learned some tendencies, I would say, but I knew they were both good players and ultimately I'd have to play with good intensity."

Quan won the Easter Bowl, Clay Courts, Nationals and Junior Orange Bowl 12s in 2018, but he was out most of 2019 with a stress fracture in his elbow.

"Then covid came," Quan said. "My parents were very strict on me playing tournaments; we didn't want to get Covid and people are losing their lives. I played a lot of the Newport UTR tournaments, and as things opened up more later in the year, I played more."

When Quan arrived at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona a week before the Eddie Herr to prepare, he didn't have any hard court shoes, thinking the Eddie Herr 16s were played on clay.

"I brought only my clay shoes, so I had to buy hard court shoes from the store," said Quan, who will be using those clay shoes beginning Monday in the Orange Bowl 16s in Plantation. "But I feel pretty good on clay and I was able to play on clay at Carson (the USTA's West Coast Development Center), so I feel good about it."

Boys 16s final:
Rudy Quan[WC](USA) d. Lorenzo Carboni[WC](ITA)  6-0, 6-1
When Brooklyn Olson and Kate Kim were facing off frequently in Missouri Valley sectional tournaments years ago, they didn't imagine they would one day meet for the Eddie Herr girls 16s title.  It was Kim who came out on top in today's final 7-6(1), 6-3, with both girls pointing to Kim's adjustment at the end of the first set as a key to her victory.

"In the tiebreaker in first set, I started out really aggressive, hit multiple winners, and that really set the tone," said the fourth-seeded Kim, a 16-year-old who now trains at Team Anderson in Lake Worth Florida. "I started being more aggressive from then on, I had better court positioning and it just went well."

No. 3 seed Olson, who recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the first set, saw the same change.

"I started out pretty slow, then brought it back," said the 15-year-old, who now trains with the USTA at the National Campus. "Once it was 5-all, she stepped up her game, played really well. Her forehand was really good. Going into the match, I knew what her weakness was, but she did well covering it up, so good for her."

"At 5-all I just turned the gears up a little bit," Kim said. "I realized I was really far behind the baseline, wasn't being aggressive enough."

Kim, who will be unseeded in the Orange Bowl 16s next week, was delighted to earn the title.

"It's great," said Kim. "This is definitely my best tournament."

G16s final:
Kate Kim[4](USA) d. Brooklyn Olson[3](USAO 7-6(1), 6-3

The only age group that didn't produce American champions was the 14s, with No. 3 seed Timofey Derepasko of Russia defeating top seed Maxwell Exsted 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and top seed Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria beating Eva Oxford 6-1, 6-1.

Derepasko needed three hours to subdue Exsted, who reached the 12s final two years ago, but he was happy with the way he played.

"I played my best tennis," said the 14-year-old from Moscow, who got an early break in the third and was able keep his lead. "It was a very hard second set, but in third set, I started to play better, I do the break, and I finish the match."

Derepasko, who will compete in the Junior Orange Bowl in two weeks in Miami, was pleased that he could play his best tennis in the last two matches of the week.

"Yesterday in semifinals against Italian guy (No. 2 seed Andrea de Marchi), very good play," Derepasko said. "Before that, not the best, but these two, very good. I come here 2019, I lose in the third round (second actually), so to win the this tournament, it's so amazing."

B14s final:
Timofey Derepasko[3](RUS) d. Max Exsted[1](USA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Dencheva looked impressive in her 6-1, 6-1 win over Oxford today, but she had faced a serious challenge in the semifinal match, losing the first set to No. 3 seed Wakana Sonobe of Japan 6-0 before pulling out a 0-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

"The semifinal was really tough, I had some problems," said the 14-year-old, who agreed that the Eddie Herr title was the biggest of her career. "But I was able to motivate myself and to finish the match."

There was no such glitch against Oxford.

"I played really well; from the baseline my shots were really good, and my first serve was in most of the time. And my drive volleys were very good today," said Dencheva, who will be playing the Junior Orange Bowl in Miami in two weeks.

G14s final:
Rositsa Dencheva[1](BUL) d. Evan Oxford[2](USA) 6-1, 6-1

Teodor Davidov has become something of an internet sensation with his rare stroke production. The second-seeded 11-year-old, who defeated No. 4 seed Jordan Lee 6-4, 6-4 in todays 12s final, does not hit a backhand; instead he switches his racquet between his left and right hands as required. 

That novelty, which includes serving with his right hand in the deuce court and his left hand in the ad court, isn't a distraction for Lee, who has already played Davidov four times this year, winning once.

"It's like he has no weakness," said Lee. "He's really fast, and he's really strong. It kind of effects me, but not too much."

Davidov sees some of his own game in Lee's.

"He hits hard and flat and he's pretty aggressive," said Davidov. "He misses more than me; he checks out sometimes if there's a really long rally, so I just have to grind with him, and attack when I get an opportunity."

Davidov said he wasn't nervous, due to the familiarity of his opponent and the wins he had already recorded during the tournament.

"I was really happy with my results," said Davidov, who trains at the Inspiration Academy in Bradenton. "I've played him three times before, so I kind of know his game."

As for all the attention he received when my brief video of him at the Easter Bowl in March went viral on twitter, Davidov has found a way to avoid all the perils of social media.

"I don't have a phone or anything," said Davidov, who will be playing the Junior Orange Bowl 12s, on clay, in two weeks.

Teodor Davidov[2](USA) d. Jordan Lee[4](USA) 6-4, 6-4

No. 3 seed Kristina Penickova won the all-US girls 12s final, beating No. 5 seed Anita Tu 6-1, 6-2.

Penickova, who didn't lose a set all week, was particularly pleased with her level of play in the final.

"I felt like I played really good, and I attacked the ball very well," said the 12-year-old left-hander, who trains at the Los Altos Country Club with her father, Thomas Penicka, the club's director of tennis. "I felt really comfortable."

Penickova also exacted some revenge for her family, with her twin sister Annika losing to Tu in the third round in a match tiebreaker. 

"It's awesome to always have someone to hang out with and warm up with," Penickova said of her right-handed sister. "Someone you can always trust."

Penickova said she has yet to process winning the championship. 

"It feels oddly weird," said Penickova, who will play the Junior Orange Bowl in two weeks. "It doesn't feel real. Now I know I can do what I want to do. It's the biggest title I've won, and I'm very happy about it." 

Tu, who had beaten top seed Lia Belibova of Moldova 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals, was impressed by Penickova's level.

"I could have played better, but my opponent played really good," said Tu, who trains at MGT Academy in Doral. "She was hitting a lot of winners from the baseline and she was attacking very well. Today she didn't miss anything."

Kristina Penickova[3](USA) d. Anita Tu[5](USA) 6-1, 6-2

While the Penickova twins did not arrive at a meeting this week thanks in part to Tu, the Fruhvirtova sisters will contest a final for the third week in a row after both won grueling semifinals to advance at the ITF J1.

Linda, 16, defeated No. 6 seed Solana Sierra of Argentina 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, and Brenda, 14, beat No. 2 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(3), with the matches ending within a minute of each other.

Although this is becoming routine, playing each other will never resemble a championship match against another opponent.

"It has two sides," said Linda, who beat Brenda the J1 in Guadalajara two weeks ago 6-4, 7-6(5). "First we're so happy that we're both in the final. The first time, I don't think we even believed it. Of course, on the other hand, it's tough to play your sister; you don't really feel like beating, and fighting, and shouting when it's your sister."

"We don't even say c'mon," said Brenda, who beat Linda 7-5, 7-5 last week to earn the JA title in Merida Mexico. "We have such a good relationship, so it's not like playing against someone else, like today."

After each has played 29 matches in this three week stretch, today's semifinals seemed like a bridge too far, especially when both dropped tough first sets.

"I was really tired, and I was like, oh my god, I'm not sure I can do this," said Linda, who had beaten Sierra in straight sets in the third round last week. "But I just said, don't give up, try to fight for every point; I gave it everything I had. I was watching my sister at the same time and when we both lost the first set, I was like, third week in a row, it's too good to be true. But then, we started coming back, fighting back, and I'm so proud of us."

Brenda also had doubts.

"I didn't know if I was able to win today because I was really tired, and I'm kind of injured on my hand," Brenda said. "I was surprised, but I kept fighting to the last point, so I'm really happy I won today."

The boys final will feature No. 16 seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland against No. 2 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine, after Feldbausch defeated top seed Bruno Kuzuhara 6-4, 6-3 and Bielinskyi downed unseeded Dino Prizmic of Croatia 6-2, 7-6(4).

Although the scoreline doesn't suggest drama, Feldbausch and Kuzuhara played just short of two hours, with nearly every rally a long one and every game featuring a deuce. Free points on serve were non-existent with a dozen breaks in the match, with Feldbausch getting two key holds late in both sets.

Feldbausch had played three hours to secure his 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) semifinal win over No. 8 seed Edas Butvilas yesterday, and felt the effects of that today.

"I was a bit tired at the end, but I stayed focus, and I do what I can," said the 16-year-old from Geneva. "Today I play really good, a very good match, very offensive."

Feldbausch has now reached three J1 finals on clay since September, but is still seeking his first title. 

Bielinskyi, who is the ITF European 18s champion, has not lost a set this week, but his coach, Alexander Karpenko, does not put any stock in the disparity of the seedings.

"A final is always 50-50," Karpenko said. "Everyboday has chances. In the final, everybody are equal. There is no favorite in a final."

The ITF doubles champions were decided Saturday afternoon, with No. 4 seeds Aleksander Orlikowski and Olaf Pieczkowski of Poland defeated unseeded Americans Benjamin Kittay and Michael Zheng 7-5, 6-4.

Top seeds Diana Shnaider and Croatia's Petra Marcinko defeated the Fruhvirtova sisters, seeded No. 2, 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 to capture the girls doubles title.

Doubles champions for the younger divisions are featured below, with the results of the finals.

G14s: Lira Kosaka/Kiko Inoue(JPN)[6] d. Jo Leen Saw(MAS)/Rositsa Dencheva(BUL)[2] 6-4, 6-3

G16s: Noemi Basiletti/Vittoria Paganetti[3](ITA) d. My-Anh Holmes/Mia Yamakita(USA) 4-6, 6-2, 10-4

B14s: Maxwell Exsted/Maximus Dussault[1](USA) d. Benjamin Willwerth/Yubel Ubri(USA) 6-7(3), 6-0, 10-4

B16s: Tygen Goldammer/Ilyas Fahim[7](USA) d. Tanner Povey/Paris Pouatcha[2](USA) 5-7, 6-4, 10-6

B12s: Jae Jun Shin/Seung Jun Yu(KOR) d. Juan Miguel Bolivar(COL)/Naveet Raghuram(USA)[1] 1-6, 6-3, 10-4
G12s: Ji Yun Oh/Ye Sung Choo(KOR) d. Anita Tu(USA)/Bela Martinez(PUR)[2] 7-6(5), 7-6(3)