Girls' 18 Nationals Singles Semis Decided

March 10, 2009 03:45 PM

By Marcia Frost

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Another day of warm sunshine welcomed semifinal singles matches at the Girls' 18 Nationals, followed by crowd-pleasing consolation and doubles matches that went the distance at the Berkeley Tennis Club and Claremont Resort & Spa.

It was definitely not your standard group of quarterfinal matches. The day started with Nicole Gibbs and Gail Brodsky. It was a straight 6-3 set for the second-seed, but Gibbs was the leader in the next set, as she held to 4-2. Despite a quick visit from the trainer for a sore ankle, Brodsky came back against the fourth seed and took it 6-4 in the second.

Brodsky credited her three-setter Thursday for helping her Friday. "I mentally collapsed (Thursday) at 1-0, 40-15 in the second and fell apart. Today when I was at 1-0, 40-15, I said to myself, 'you can't go through this again,' and I made myself fight."

Doubles partners Asia Muhammad and Christina McHale also played to two sets with some great points, but there was no doubt that third-seeded McHale was the more solid one, and she proved it at 6-2,6-2. After the match, she agreed with the assessment. "I was more steady and more consistent. I think she made more errors than usual trying to come in and attack."

The afternoon quarterfinals were nothing like the morning matches. Lauren Embree (4) and Alexandra Cercone (11) kept the crowd guessing. After sweeping the first set, Cercone dropped the next 11 of 12 games. But it didn't really look like a total wipeout. There were some long rallies at the baseline and deuce games.

Embree said of the strange 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 score, "I was really nervous in the first set, and in the second I loosened up and started playing more aggressive. She started making errors, while I had the momentum."

Eighth-seeded Beatrice Capra also quickly lost the first set to No. 15 Ester Goldfeld. The second was hers, though, and the third was when the match really began. The crowd grew, and they were treated to some incredible points from two players who have a variety of weapons. The games were long, and it was up for grabs until the end.

Capra echoed the sentiments of Brodsky about not making the same mistake twice. "Yesterday I lost the first set and regrouped. This reminded me of yesterday, and I knew I had to mix it up and hit it hard."

There were some exciting consolation matches, but the match of the day definitely belonged to Allie Will and Courtney Dolehide. The duo was out there for three and a half hours of wild points, ending in a 7-6 (8), 5-7, 7-5 win for Dolehide, who had survived Alina Jerjomina earlier in the day, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

The doubles finished with a marathon of three-setters, the most memorable of which was second-seeded Gail Brodsky and Kaitlyn Christian vs. 9-16 Jacqueline Cako and Olivia Janowicz. After two fairly close sets, the two teams went into a third that was filled with top-notch serve-and-volley doubles -- except for the serve part. No one was able to hold through the first 11 games. Brodsky and Christian gave up three match points at 5-4, and it wasn't until 6-5 that there was a hold, but it was followed by another and into a tiebreaker we were.

The level of play continued to be spectacular, and then there was a match point at 6-5 in the breaker for Cako and Janowicz. It came and went, and it was finally the higher seeds who squeezed by at 8-6 in the third-set breaker.

In the doubles semis, Brodsky and Christian will join Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad. The top seeds also had to go three sets to earn their win over Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Nicole Gibbs. In the bottom half of the draw, Kristie Ahn and Courtney Dolehide (3) survived a close one over Mallory Burdette and Mary Clayton (9-16) to earn a meeting with Lauren Embree and Allie Will. For the fourth-seeds it was also a match that went the distance over Emina Bektas and Lilly Kimbell.

Saturday's semifinal singles matches will begin at the Berkeley Tennis Club at 10 a.m., followed by doubles in the afternoon. Admission is free. The matches will also be broadcast live on Visit the tournament’s official site at for stories, photos and schedules. Also look for the USTA Girls' 18 National Championships on Facebook (which has photo albums for each day), as well as updates on Twitter through MarciaLF24.

Click on the links below for complete results and draws from all USTA National Championship tournaments:

Boys' 16s, 18s - Kalamazoo, Mich.

Boys' 14s - San Antonio, Texas

Boys' 12s - N. Little Rock, Ark.

Girls' 18s - Berkeley, Calif.

Girls' 16s - San Diego

Girls' 14s - Peachtree City, Ga.

Girls' 12s - Alpharetta, Ga.