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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Leroux Posts Two Comeback Wins to Reach First J300 Quarterfinal in San Diego; Top Seeds Bigun and Jovic Advance; Texas Men Beat No. 1 TCU; Florida Women Top No. 3 Michigan

©Colette Lewis 2023--
San Diego CA--

Rain on the first two days of the tournament forced the girls to double up for the second and third round of girls singles Wednesday at the ITF J300 Youth Tennis San Diego tournament. While 12 of the 16 boys second round matches were completed on Tuesday, most of the girls had barely begun their matches or had not started at all when rain cancelled play around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Wednesday's weather cooperated for a 10 a.m. start, with partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures throughout the day, but it didn't begin well for unseeded Raphaelle Leroux of Canada, who dropped the first set to Ava Bruno 6-4, before the 16-year-old from Montreal took a bathroom break to collect herself. 

"I know I that I have to be more aggressive against her, so I was like, you know what, let me take a bathroom break and cool off," said Leroux, who went on to claim a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory. "Usually I just go to the bathroom and think about nothing. I just redo my hair, go back on the court, tell myself to play my game and everything will be good."

That same routine worked again in her third round match against No. 5 seed Ashton Bowers, with Leroux taking the match 4-6, 6-0, 6-3

"It was a good quality first set, but I lost it," Leroux said. "I was like, you know what?, I'll just be more aggressive and move her around more in the second."

Leroux won 11 consecutive games after dropping the first set, but Bowers held, broke Leroux serving for the match at 5-1 and held again for 5-3. With Leroux serving for the match a second time, the nerves returned and she went down 15-40 after a double fault. But she managed to steady herself, saving one more break point before her backhand forced an error from Bowers on her first match point.

"I got a little bit tight there, but she started playing better too," said Leroux, who defeated No. 11 seed Qavia Lopez in the first round. "I was just like, cool off, take a deep breath and you'll be fine. Just put the ball in the court and you'll be fine."

Leroux, who played qualifying for two indoor hard court $25K tournament in Canada before competing in last week's J300 in Indian Wells, admitted that she felt physically challenged late in the third sets of both her matches Wednesday, but that the fatigue didn't affect her mentally.

"I'm exhausted," said Leroux, who wasn't too disappointed that her doubles partner pulled out prior to their second round match Wednesday evening. "But mentally, I stay strong all the time. My physical condition and my mental condition are two different things in my opinion."

Leroux, who lost to eventual champion Clervie Ngounoue in the second round of last week's ITF J300 in Indian Wells, met her goal for the Southern California swing there and exceeded it here.

"For the first tournament my goal was just to win one round," said Leroux, who had lost her previous two first round matches at J300s. "I was like, I have to win at least one round and I did, I achieved my goal. And here it was two rounds, and I won three."

Leroux will face No. 4 seed Ariana Pursoo, who defeated Victoria Osuigwe 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 and Isabella Chhiv 6-2, 6-4.

The other girls quarterfinal in the bottom half will feature No. 2 seed Ngounoue and No. 10 Alanis Hamilton. Ngounoue came from 2-5 down in the second set to beat 13-year-old wild card Annika Penickova 6-3, 7-5 in the third round, while Hamilton got past qualifier Monika Ekstrand 6-4, 6-4.

No. 3 seed Tatum Evans will face No. 9 seed Yujin Kim of Korea, with Evans defeating Katherine Hui 6-3, 6-3 and Kim fighting back for a 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over ITF Indian Wells finalist Thea Rabman, the No. 6 seed.
Top seed Iva Jovic dropped just one game in her two victories Wednesday, with her 6-0, 6-0 win over No. 16 seed Piper Charney putting her up against friend and doubles partner Tyra Grant, the No. 12 seed, in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Grant defeated wild card Julieta Pareja 6-3, 6-4 after a long wait for a court before starting her second round match, a 6-2, 7-5 win over USTA Winter Nationals champion Tianmei Wang. 

It was after 5 p.m before Grant took the court for her second match, but she was able to stay loose in the hours between matches. 

"I try to walk around, hang out with my friends, not be too tight before a match," said the 15-year-old. "I try to keep my mind off the match, and when I go on court try to play as free as I can."

Grant had beaten Pareja in the semifinals of the Las Vegas J60, which she went on to win, so there were no surprises in their second meeting in three weeks. 

"I started very good, was up 4-0 before I got broken," Grant said. "Second set, I was tired and she played very well, she started being super aggressive, played very, very well. I just tried to stay in there, get every point I can, be consistent and do my thing."

Grant's meeting with Jovic will be their second this year, after Jovic defeated Grant en route to the J300 title in Costa Rica.

"I don't know about them, but for me, it's pretty easy to set aside our friendship off court, or even on court, since Iva's my doubles partner, and just think about the match," Grant said.

As with the girls, the boys quarterfinals will feature just one unseeded player, Matisse Farzam, who completed a second round 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 8 seed Meecah Bigun and then defeated doubles partner Ian Mayew 7-5, 6-2 Wednesday afternoon. 

Farzam will play top seed Kaylan Bigun for the second time in two weeks, after Bigun defeated wild card Trevor Svajda 6-3, 6-2. In their previous meeting in the third round of last week's ITF Indian Wells, Bigun won 7-6(5), 6-3.

Bigun got the only break of the uptempo first set, with his aggressive hitting and high first serve percentage giving Svajda limited chances to dictate play. At 1-1 in the second set, Svajda fell deep behind the baseline, and came out of the fall shaking his wrist. A trainer was called to the court and the right-hander's right wrist was taped, but the disruption took its toll and looking discouraged, Svajda began to make errors that he had not made earlier in the match. Bigun's level also dropped, but he held on for the victory.

The other boys quarterfinal in the top half will feature No. 3 seed Alexander Razeghi and No. 7 seed Oliver Bonding of Great Britain. Razeghi avenged his loss to Cyrus Mahjoob last week in Indian Wells, defeating the No. 16 seed 6-3, 6-4. Bonding ended the run of qualifier Xavier Calvelo of the Philippines 6-1, 6-2. 

Bonding and Razeghi met in the second round of the J300 in Colombia, with Bonding winning 7-6(5), 6-3 en route to the title.

In the bottom half, No. 6 seed Hoyoung Roh of Korea will face No. 13 seed Maxwell Exsted, with Roh getting past No. 9 seed Adhithya Ganesan 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 and Exsted coming back for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over doubles partner Nikita Filin.

No. 5 seed Atakan Karahan of Turkey defeated No. 11 seed Quang Duong 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and will face No. 2 seed Roy Horovitz, who beat Max Stenzer of Germany 6-3, 6-2.

The boys first round of doubles was completed today after being washed out Tuesday, but the second round of girls doubles was not finished due to more rain after dark Wednesday. Thursday's forecast is showing a 50% chance of rain, so all eight singles quarterfinal matches are scheduled for 10 a.m.

Two important results today in Division I college tennis, with the third-ranked Texas men defeating No. 1 TCU 4-1 in Fort Worth, handing the Horned Frogs their first loss of the season. TCU had defeated Texas 4-0 in the final of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last month.

In Gainesville, the 19th-ranked Florida women defeated No. 3 Michigan 4-1, just three days after losing 4-2 to No. 68 Kentucky. 


Scheduling..... said...

How many days has Michigan Women practiced/played outdoors this season?

Florida hasn't beaten a Top team or been in any National competitive conversation in 6 years. They just lost to a 40-60 ranked team at home. They didn't improve that much in 3 days.

Congrats but this is more of a gift than who the actual better team is.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Florida was the better team that day. Florida also beat the #'s 23, 32 and 34 ranked teams in recent weeks. Lots of "gifts" in March madness recently too so not quite sure what your point is?