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Monday, August 8, 2022

Top 18s Seed Damm, No. 9 Seed Gorzny Earn Comeback Victories in Kalamazoo Third Round; Top Eight Seeds in 16s Division Advance to Fourth Round; No. 1 Seed Okhtenberg Falls in G14s

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Kalamazoo MI--

The dire weather forecast didn't materialize Monday for the third round of the USTA Boys 18s and 16s National Championships, but wet courts early and delays due to drizzle late in the day forced the matches in the bottom half of the B18s singles to be postponed until Tuesday.

The third round of B16s singles was completed, and seven of the top eight seeds advanced in straight sets, with No. 8 seed Ian Bracks the only one to lose a set. Bracks did keep that cohort perfect however with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over unseeded Dylan Fayerman.

Top seed Roy Horovitz kicked off outdoor play Monday afternoon with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Andrew Spurk and No. 2 seed Quang Duong defeated Zachary Cohen 6-3, 6-0. 

The only 16s division Top 16 seed in action Monday who didn't advance was No. 11 Andrew Ena, who lost to wild card Maximus Dussault 6-2, 6-3.

In contrast to Horovitz, the top seed in the 18s, Martin Damm, had a sterner test, defeating Sean Daryabeigi, a No. 33 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Damm, who lost in the fourth round last year as the No. 2 seed, said he was able to keep a positive attitude despite falling behind.

"I had a feeling, or was hoping, that his level would go down a bit," said the 18-year-old left-hander from Bradenton Florida. "I thought he was playing ridiculous tennis in the first set. Obviously, the last two years, for me, have been tough; the first few rounds have been challenging. But I just kept telling myself, hold your serve and at the worst we go to a breaker in the second."

Down break points at 1-all in the second, Damm held and was able to take control of the match from there.

"If he was going to beat me, he had to earn it, I wasn't going to give up," Damm said. "I came out with good energy and I thought for the next set and a half, I was playing great tennis. It gives me huge confidence moving forward if I get rid of the nerves early on, playing my big tennis, I like my chances against these guys."

Damm, who won the 2018 16s title when he was just 14 and the 2019 18s doubles title with Toby Kodat, has more good memories than bad from his three previous appearances in Kalamazoo.

"Those are obviously some of the best memories I've experienced on a tennis court," Damm said. "But know that as the top seed, you have a target on your back and these guys, they have nothing to lose and the two guys I've played are pretty darn good. I have a huge chance to play the US Open, and I know they say take one match at a time, but that's the ultimate goal for me. There's definitely some pressure, but at the same time you've just got to enjoy it. This is my last year to play this tournament and I've had a blast here, even the losses I've taken, it's changed me a lot."

Damm is without a coach on this trip and that is part of his effort to be more self-sufficient as he continues to pursue a professional career. 

"This year has been a lot of learning, last year and a half a lot of maturing," said Damm, who won his first $25,000 ITF Men's World Tennis Tour tile in June when traveling by himself. "That was something my coaches told me, that I will go to three, four tournaments alone completely, just to figure out things for myself, not always have someone there to lean on. That's obviously great, but I need to learn to battle there on the court like I did today. I found a way, by myself to win a match."

In the fourth round Damm will play No. 26 seed Bryce Nakashima, brother of 2017 Kalamazoo 16s champion Brandon, who defeated Jonathan Gu 6-1, 6-2 today.

Damm began his comeback early in the second set, but it took much longer for No. 9 seed Sebastian Gorzny to turn around his match with Dylan Tsoi, a No. 33 seed.  

Gorzny was serving down 1-4, 15-40 in the third set, but held there and got the break back before drizzle again delayed play, this time for more than a few minutes.  Tsoi took a medical timeout before play resumed with what appeared to be a back issue, but Gorzny, a rising freshman at TCU, wasn't affected by the delay and he held for 4-all. Tsoi, a Yale recruit, held for 5-4 and again had medical attention on the changeover. After Gorzny made it 5-all, Tsoi couldn't convert his game point at 40-30, double faulting and making two errors to hand Gorzny a 6-5 lead. Up 40-15, Gorzny let two match points go to waste, with Tsoi hitting good passing shots as Gorzny approached the net, but on the third Tsoi missed and Gorzny had survived. He will play Evan Wen, a No. 33 seed, who beat No. 20 seed Jelani Sarr 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

The top half will not play singles on Tuesday, with their next singles matches on Wednesday as the bottom half catches up. See the home page of ustaboys.com for more on Tuesday's revised schedule.

Although there were no major upsets in the 18s singles, that was not the case in 18s doubles, which were played indoors on Monday morning. No. 4 seeds Samir Banerjee and Ozan Baris lost to No. 19 seeds Caden Hasler and Marko Mesarovic 6-4, 5-7, 10-2 and No. 8 seeds Kyle Kang and Learner Tien lost to unseeded Alexander Chang and Noah Hernandez 7-5, 6-4.

No 16s doubles were played on Monday.

At the girls 14s Nationals in Rome Georgia, top seed Nicole Okhtenberg and No. 4 seed Alyson Shannon both lost today in third round action. Okhtenberg, the Easter Bowl 14s champion, was beaten by No. 33 seed Maya Diyasheva 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(4) and Shannon lost to No. 33 seed Harper Stone 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.