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Monday, March 20, 2023

Wet Start and Late Finish on First Day of ITF J300 Youth Tennis San Diego, But Top Seeds Advance to Second Round

©Colette Lewis 2023--
San Diego CA--

Stadium Court at Barnes Tennis Center Monday morning
Wet courts and mid-morning drizzle set back the start of play for more than four hours at the ITF J300 Youth Tennis San Diego tournament at the Barnes Tennis Center Monday

But the sun came out briefly, helping to dry the courts, and most of the first girls matches on 18 courts were underway by 1 p.m. Although a few sprinkles fell now and then, play didn't stop for more than a minute, and matches cycled through the courts until after 10 p.m. Monday night.

The girls played first, with last week's Indian Wells J300 champion and No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue getting another routine victory, beating qualifier Simone Kay 6-1, 6-2 on Stadium Court.

Top seed Iva Jovic followed Ngounoue on Stadium Court and although she was challenged on every point by the reigning USTA 16s National champion Alyssa Ahn, playing on her home courts, Jovic came through with a 6-3, 6-0 victory. The length, depth, consistency and point construction by both players made for an exceptional first round match despite the lopsided scoreline.

After last week's ITF J300 in Indian Wells, which featured live scoring and chair umpires for every match, this week players were back to the usual ITF Junior Circuit protocol, calling their own lines and updating the scoring devices on changeovers. There were plenty of disputes on calls and requests for roving umpires, especially in the late boys matches, many of which went to third sets.

Top seed Kaylan Bigun avoided that dilemma, although after trailing 4-1 in the first set against longtime friend Stefan Regalia, it looked as if he might be playing late into the night too. Bigun rebounded however claiming the match in straight sets, 7-6(0), 6-4.

"It's never easy to compete against your friends, especially when we know one another so well," said the 16-year-old left-hander. "I know where he going to serve before he even thinks about going there. Stefan's kind of like a brother to me, I trained in College Park (Junior Tennis Champions Center) with him, always stay at his house when I visit the area, so yeah, it's never easy to play a friend."

The conditions, with temperatures in the upper 50s, and the long wait to get on court as the fourth match of day, may have contributed to Bigun's slow start.

"I started out a little cold, I had to adjust my eyes to the lights and stuff like that," said Bigun, who now trains both with his father, and at the USTA Player Development Center in Carson California. "It's never easy to play under the lights, especially when it's cold, so it took me a few games to get used to that. He was playing good tennis and I was a little cold, but I started to gain my rhythm as the games went on."

As the wait to get on court stretched into the evening, Bigun was already on edge, and the fact that he was playing Regalia didn't help.

"It's never easy," said Bigun. "When I first looked on the schedule, I realized I was last on, and I was like, ooh, that's going to be a lot of waiting. So I had to time what I ate, when I ate, had to stay warm throughout the whole day, not sit down and get cold. It's never easy to play when you're the last match on, because you're anticipating your match the whole day, it's going through your head."

No. 14 seed Cooper Woestendick, last week's champion in Indian Wells, won two tough sets to defeat Adam Faragcao of Canada, while Indian Wells finalists Oliver Bonding[7] of Great Britain and Thea Rabman both advanced to the second round in three sets.

Boys seeds eliminated included No. 10 seed Duncan Chan, who lost to Jordan Reznik 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(1); No. 12 seed Stiles Brockett, who was beaten by Matthew Forbes 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1; and No. 15 seed Tristan Stringer, who lost to Max Stenzer of Germany 6-2, 6-4.

Four girls seeds went out in today's action, with Shannon Lam taking out No. 7 seed Wakana Sonobe of Japan 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.  Kayla Chung advanced when  No. 15 seed Ellie Daniels of Canada retired trailing 4-6, 6-5, with No. 13 seed Ava Krug also retiring, to Emily Sartz-Lunde of Norway 4-6, 4-3. No. 11 seed Qavia Lopez lost to Canada's Raphaelle Leroux 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

With a 100 percent chance of rain forecast for Tuesday, the ITF referee decided to play the first round of the girls doubles Monday evening and several of those matches were also still going at 10 p.m.