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Friday, August 12, 2022

Tien and Damm, Quinn and Michigan's Baris Advance to Kalamazoo 18s Semifinals; Top Two Seeds Also Reach 18s Doubles Final with US Open Wild Card on Line; Hui Beats Brantmeier in San Diego

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Kalamazoo MI--

The top two seeds in both singles and doubles continued their runs in the USTA Boys 18s National Championships, but for local fans, the story of Day Eight is Michigan State freshman Ozan Baris, who advanced to the semifinals in singles with a 6-1, 6-7(8), 6-4 victory over No. 4 seed Kyle Kang.

Baris and Kang were the final singles match of the day, so all eyes were on Court 2, with his supporters preparing to celebrate when he took a 6-1, 3-1 lead.

But he couldn't consolidate that break and lost serve at 4-all, giving Kang an opportunity to serve for the set. Kang, a 17-year-old from Fullerton California, didn't take advantage, but got to a tiebreaker, where he saved two match points at 6-5 and 7-6.

USTA rules require a 10-minute break after splitting sets, and Baris quickly forgot about those two chances.

"I felt like I did a good job of keeping a much better head out there," said the 18-year-old from Okemos, an hour and a half drive from Kalamazoo. "And I hit a lot more forehands, and I was able to reset and I'm just glad I'm out of there."

Baris said he had heard that Kang hadn't been feeling well lately, but after that sluggish start, Kang brought his level up.

"He turned it on," said the No. 11 seed, who split decisions with Kang last year in Kalamazoo, winning in the main draw, then losing to him in consolation final. 

"He was a completely different player. I've been watching him play and I've heard he might be sick the past couple of days. At 6-1, 3-1 I kind of let up, had a couple of bad games and his energy went way up, a lot of my winners turned into balls he got to and it became really physical. He increased his level and I got tight for sure, but that third set was just good quality tennis, and that one break was it."

Baris got that in the third game and was able to hold on even when facing a 0-30 deficit serving for the match at 5-4. But he kept relying on his forehand, and it paid off, as he won the final four points of the match, ending it with a forehand winner.

Baris was particularly happy that he didn't have to play the consolation tournament, with the quarterfinal losers the last competitors to enter that draw.

"I didn't want to get to the same place I was the last two [Kalamazoos] I've played," Baris said. "Different way, but same draw. I'm not going to lie, I put a little pressure on myself because of that too. I wanted to have a better result than before."

Baris will play No. 2 seed Ethan Quinn, who defeated future Georgia teammate Alex Michelsen 7-6(5), 6-2, winning the final six games of the match.

"I don't think he's lost a set," Baris said. "It looks like he's playing really solid tennis recently. I've never played him, but it's going to be a good match and I'll have to bring my good tennis. I'm looking forward to it."

Unlike Quinn, top seed Martin Damm has had to fight back from a set down twice this tournament, but he was sharp on Friday in a 7-6(3), 6-4 win over Wimbledon boys finalist and No. 5 seed Michael Zheng. Damm, the 2018 Kalamazoo 16s champion, got the only break of the match in the second set, and both his serve and his volleys were in top form against Zheng.

Damm's opponent is No. 8 seed Learner Tien, who survived four match points in the fifth round on Thursday against No. 12 seed Nicholas Godsick, and played freely in today's quarterfinal against No. 10 seed Cooper Williams, earning a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory.

"I came into today with a new chance at life almost," said the 16-year-old left-hander from Irvine California. "I didn't have as much pressure, if any, coming into today, feeling fortunate to still be in the tournament. There were still some nerves and some expectations, but a lot less pressure, feeling grateful to still be playing, I guess."

Up two breaks in the second set at 4-0, Tien gave one back and had to save three break points when he served for the match at 3-5. But he eventually got to match point and made the most of it, hitting a great serve out wide that Williams had no chance to return in the court.

"As a lefty, standing on the ad side and having the flexibility of standing however far you want, being able to hit that slice, then throwing in the T, it keeps them on their toes a little bit," Tien said. "It's really useful, especially on the bigger points; they really don't know what to expect sometimes."

With Damm turning 19 next month and Tien not 17 until December, they have not competed in the same junior tournaments.

"We've never played," Tien said. "I've seen him around the older age groups, but I think I'll watch the second set of his match."

Saturday's doubles final in the 18s was decided Friday afternoon, with Wimbledon junior champions Michelsen and Sebastian Gorzny winning their 20th consecutive match. The top seeds defeated No. 9 seeds Hudson Rivera and Braden Shick 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, watching a 3-0 third set lead slip away but breaking Rivera at 4-5 to reach the final.

No. 2 seeds Quinn and Godsick came from behind to defeat Zheng and Jack Anthrop, the No. 5 seeds, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Up a break early in the third, Quinn and Godsick saved two break points with Godsick serving at 4-3 to hold on to that lead, with Quinn serving it out.

Quinn and Gorzny were doubles finalists last year, losing to Ben Shelton and Bruno Kuzuhara in the championship match. Godsick is the 2021 16s doubles champion, with Lucas Brown.

The winner of Saturday's 18s final will be awarded a wild card into the men's doubles draw at the US Open.

The 16s didn't play singles on Friday, with the doubles semifinals the only main draw competition for 16s.

No. 5 seeds Stiles Brockett and Cassius Chinlund defeated top seeds Matthew Forbes and Chase Fralick in a thriller, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5).  Brockett and Chinlund will face No. 2 seeds Cooper Woestendick and Mitchell Lee, who beat No. 4 seeds Oliver Narbut and Ian Mayew 6-4, 6-4.

Saturday's singles semifinals in the 16s will feature No. 5 seed Darwin Blanch versus No. 9 seed Mitchell Lee and No. 13 seed Calvin Baierl against No. 32 seed Saahith Jayaraman.

The weather forecast is currently calling for a 60% chance of rain, so the four days of perfect weather might come to an end on Saturday.

Another shocker in San Diego, with 2021 finalist and top seed Reese Brantmeier losing to No. 8 seed Katherine Hui, who is from San Diego, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals.

Results from the other age divisions are below:

Katherine Hui[8]  d. Reese Brantmeier[1] 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
Valerie Glozman[17] d. Maya Joint[9] 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 
Eleana Yu[4] d. Kinaa Graham[33] 6-3, 6-3
Ariana Pursoo[17] d. Katie Codd[9] 6-4, 7-5

Christasha McNeil d. Tianmei Wang[9] 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(9) 
Alyssa Ahn[9] d. Claire Zhang[9] 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

Sebastian Bielen[7] d. Jordan Lee[33] 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Andra Alcantara[4] d. Liam Alvarez[5] 1-6, 6-4, 6-3

Vihaan Reddy[1] d. Antanas Daugis[17] 6-0, 6-1
Tabb Tuck[5] d. Akshay Mirmira[4] 6-4, 6-4

Maggie Sohns[4] d. Bella Arwood[12] 6-1, 6-4
Hannah Ayrault[2] d. Welles Newman[3] 6-4, 6-4 

Maria Aytoyan[5] d. Anna Frey[8] 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 
Bella Payne[17] d. Sara Shumate[17] 6-1, 6-0