By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. – Mackenzie McDonald would just as soon forget the year 2011 ever existed.
The No. 4 seeded 16-year-old from Piedmont, Calif., beat John Richmond of Pawleys Island, S.C., 6-2, 6-2, in the boys’ 18s on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the eighth annual USTA International Spring Championships being played at the Home Depot Center.
One year ago, McDonald was at the beginning stages of an eight-month layoff from tennis after suffering from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a condition of having an abnormally low platelet count of unknown cause.
"It was miserable," said McDonald, who has slowly come back since October and says he feels no side effects from ITP. "I had low energy and was hospitalized for a week. It took awhile to figure out what it was, but I’m just glad it’s over. I missed this tournament and Easter Bowl, the entire summer and the US Open."
"I’m just so glad to be back with all my friends and having a great time."
McDonald, who first burst onto the junior scene back in 2009 when he won the singles and doubles 14s at the Easter Bowl, will face 14-year-old phenom Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Friday in the first match on Court 3 at 9 a.m. Kozlov beat No. 6-seeded Austin Siegel of Tarrytown, N.Y., 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, in his Round of 16 match.
Southern California will be represented in the 18s quarterfinals by another upstart from nearby West Covina, 15-year-old Ernesto Escobedo. He beat Nikko Madregallejo of neighboring Monrovia in a tough three-setter, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In the girls’ 18s, Allie Kiick, the daughter of former Miami Dolphin star Jim Kiick, continued her impressive run as the No. 7-seeded Kiick beat Belinda Bencic of Bradenton, Fla., 6-1, 6-1.
Kiick will face qualifier Mayo Hibi, who lives in Irvine, Calif., but represents Japan, in the quarterfinals on Friday. Hibi posted a solid 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-1, win over No. 4-seeded Gabby Andrews of Pomona.
"Gabby and I have played like 20 times and I think she’s beaten me the last 10," said Hibi, who won the Claremont ITF final last Saturday then had to win two qualifying matches on Sunday in Carson before taking a day off on Monday. "I was able to handle her pace today and return her serve better than I have in the past. I’m tired, but I feel OK."
The match of the day on Friday is in the 18s pitting top-seeded Mitchell Krueger of Aledo, Texas, against No. 5 Alexios Halebian of Glendale, both USTA-groomed players.
Boys' 18 Singles (Round of 16)
Alexios Halebian (5) Glendale, CA def. Trey Strobel Bradenton, FL 6-1, 6-4
Luca Corinteli Alexandria, VA def. Carter Lin Bradenton, FL 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Ernesto Escobedo West Covina, CA def. Nikko Madregallejo Monrovia, CA 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Noah Rubin (3) Rockville Centre, NY def. Martin Redlicki Boca Raton, FL 6-4, 7-6(2)
Ronnie Schneider Bloomington, IN def. Henrik Wiersholm Kirkland, WA 6-3, 0-6, 6-4
Stefan Kozlov Pembroke Pines, FL def. Austin Siegel (6) Tarrytown, NY 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Mackenzie McDonald (4) Piedmont, CA def. John Richmond Pawleys Isl, SC 6-2, 6-2
Mitchell Krueger (1) Aledo, TX def. Henry Craig Murrieta, CA 6-4, 6-1
Boys' 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Carter Lin / Mohd Merzuki (8) def. Milen Ianakiev / Santiago Munoz 7-6(2), 6-3
Thomas Colautti / Josh Hagar def. Alexios Halebian / Mitchell Krueger (1) 6-2, 2-6, 10-5
Lucas Gomez / Ricardo Medinilla (4) def. Thai Kwiatkowski / Martin Redlicki (5) 6-4, 5-7, 12-10
Mackenzie McDonald / Trey Strobel (2) def. Brendan McClain / Thomas Pura 6-2, 6-3
Boys' 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Logan Smith Carlsbad, CA def. Connor Hance Torrance, CA 6-2, 6-1
Roman Safiullin San Diego, CA def. Jake Devine Boca Raton, FL 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
Sameer Kumar Carmel, IN def. Robert Levine Bedford, NY 6-0, 6-3
Francis Tiafoe College Park, MD def. Aidan Jiang Ojai, CA 6-2, 6-0
Boys' 16 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Tommy Paul / Aron Pierce (3) def. Jake Devine / Nathan Ponwith 7-6(6), 4-6, 12-10
Carsten Fisher / Anudeep Kodali def. Sameer Kumar / Christian Langmo (4) 6-3, 7-6(5)
Yancy Dennis / Francis Tiafoe def. Artemie Amari / Alex Rybakov (1) 6-3, 2-6, 10-6
Augustus Ge / Jean Thirouin def. Darius MacKenzie / Keivon Tabrizi 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-7
Girls' 18 Singles (Round of 16)
Mayo Hibi Irvine, CA def. Gabrielle Andrews (4) Pomona, CA 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-1
Jennifer Brady (8) Boca Raton, FL def. Mia King Cornelius, NC 6-2, 6-1
Christina Makarova (6) San Diego, CA def. Caroline Doyle San Francisco, CA 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
Alexandra Kiick (7) Plantation, FL def. Belinda Bencic Bradenton, FL 6-1, 6-1
Stephanie Nauta Bradenton, FL def. Makenzie Craft Frisco, TX 6-1, 6-1
Taylor Townsend (1) Stockbridge, GA def. Blair Shankle Comfort, TX 6-3, 6-4
Chalena Scholl (3) Pompano Beach, FL def. June Lee West Windsor, NJ 6-1, 6-0
Kyle McPhillips (2) Willoughby, OH def. Tornado Ali Black, Boca Raton, FL 6-4, 6-3
Girls' 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Gabrielle Andrews / Taylor Townsend (1) def. Louisa Chirico / Blair Shankle, 6-2, 7-6 (1)
Samantha Crawford / Josie Kuhlman (4) def. Jennifer Brady / Kendal Woodard (6) 2-6, 6-4, 11-9
Alexandra Kiick / Ayaka Okuno (3) def. Kristina Chasovskikh / Jacqueline Zuhse 6-1, 6-3
Stephanie Nauta / Chalena Scholl (2) def. Kelsey Laurente / Alexandra Morozova (8) 6-2, 6-1
Girls' 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Andie Daniell Douglasville, GA def. Dominique Schaefer Ventura, CA 6-1, 6-4
Raquel Pedraza Claremont, CA def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (5) Cary, NC 2-6, 6-1, 6-0
Emma Higuchi Los Angeles, CA def. Nicole Frenkel (1) Winchester, MA 6-2, 6-2
Jessica Ho Wexford, PA def. Jada Hart Colton, CA 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-2
Girls' 16 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Kenadi Hance / Alexis Pereira def. Andie Daniell / Karina Traxler (3) 7-5, 6-3
Yuki Asami / Ilana Oleynik def. Madison Tedford / Camila Wesbrooks (8) 6-2, 7-6(7)
Natalie Da Silveira / Ena Shibahara def. Kareena Manji / Kaitlyn McCarthy (7) 6-2, 6-1
Nicole Frenkel / Ndindi Ndunda (1) def. Hadley Berg / Isabella Heidenreich 6-1, 7-6(4)