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Thursday, December 16, 2021

My Orange Bowl 16s Recap and Latest Cracked Racquets Podcast Appearance; Junior Orange Bowl's Top Seeds Advance on Rain-free Day Two; Klugman Survives First Round Challenge from Urhobo

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Coral Gables FL--

The 16s Orange Bowl tournament in Plantation was an unqualified success for Americans, with players from the United States winning all four titles. My recap of the singles championships by Quang Duong and Kate Kim, and the doubles championships won by Tanner Povey and Andrew Delgado and Piper Charney and Anya Murthy is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network

I also had an opportunity to join Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets on his Mini-Break podcast, where we discussed the Eddie Herr, the Orange Bowl, the college recruiting scene at both, and several other topics of interest in college and junior tennis.

The good news for the Junior Orange Bowl Thursday was the lack of any rain disruptions. The bad news was that, even with match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set for round two, eight girls 14s matches and one girls 12s match could not be completed, with those pushed to Friday morning.

Being in the top half of the draw is an definite advantage in this scenario, and all four No. 1 seeds are safely through to the third round. Iva Jovic, the top seed in the girls 14s, defeated Juliana Singeorzan 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Marcella Roversi at noon at the Biltmore Tennis Center. Boys 14s top seeed Max Exsted advanced to a meeting with unseeded Nicholas Rizzo, after beating Mikael Arsenault of Canada 6-1, 7-5. That match, also scheduled for noon, is at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.

In the 12s, top seed Christina Lyutova downed Natalie Augustyn 6-0, 6-2 and will face No. 17 seed Aoi Watanabe of Japan at noon at Crandon Park. At the boys 12s at Salvadore Park today, Teodor Davidov had a less fraught second round match than his 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 first round win over Charlie Riley of Ireland, beating Chase Peirce 6-1, 6-3. Davidov will play a No. 17 seed, Oluwajomilojo Aminu of Great Britain, at noon on Friday. 
I stayed at the girls 14s all day today, determined to see the match between No. 6 seed Hannah Klugman of Great Britain and Akasha Urhobo. For some reason Urhobo, who qualified at the J1 Eddie Herr two weeks ago, was not given entry into the main draw despite a UTR similar to Klugman's, and she had to qualify. It was an unfortunate first round draw for both players, but it was great for tennis fans to have such an exciting matchup so early in the tournament, and the grounds were buzzing with anticipation in the hours before they took the court. When Klugman emerged with a 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 victory two and a half hours after the match began, most of the industry reps, agents, coaches, players and fans agreed that it had lived up to expectations.

The 12-year-old Klugman, who made the semifinals of the Les Petits As in September as an unseeded wild card, took a 4-1 and 5-2 lead in the first set, and had the easier service games, but Urhobo's aggressive game began to fall into place. When Klugman failed to serve out the set at 5-4, Urhobo seized the momentum, holding and breaking at love for a 6-5 lead. Then, when the 14-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale seemed to have figured out the most effective patterns against Klugman, the errors of the first half of the set resurfaced and she was broken. Klugman got a mini-break early in the tiebreaker and made it stand up, hitting an ace for 6-3 and closing out the set when Urhobo sent a backhand long.

The second set started well for Klugman, who went up 2-0, but a five-deuce service game that she lost was the turning point, and Urhobo reeled off six straight games to send the match to a third set. 

Once again Klugman took the lead to open the final set, going up 4-1 and then 5-1, as Urhobo's first serve percentage dropped and her overhead, problematic all day, continued to let her down. Klugman was unable to serve out the match at 5-1, but she broke Urhobo for the third time in the set to end it.

Klugman was one of 16 players in the girls 14s draw who had their second round matches postponed until Friday morning. She will face Kiko Inoue of Japan in that match, scheduled for 8 a.m.

There was one top eight seed eliminated today, with boys 14s No. 4 seed Nicholas Patrick falling to Alexandru Hebhang Balan of Canada 6-1, 2-6, 10-4.

Draws are available at the USTA's PlayTennis site.

NOTE: Players are from the United States unless another country is referenced.