Rubin, Echeverria Alam shine on tough day for Americans at Orange Bowl

December 8, 2011 05:42 AM
By Andrew Labovitz

-- When the USTA announced the decision that the Orange Bowl International Championships would be moved back to its clay-court roots, it was done so with the belief that additional clay-court training and competition would help develop better players in the long term.

However, with a few notable exceptions, the green clay was largely unkind to Americans on Wednesday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla. While the girls’ 16s draw is still loaded with American players – six of the eight quarterfinalists hail from the U.S. – only six Americans, four girls and two boys, were able to reach the third round of the 18s draws, and the boys’ 16s quarterfinals will be played on Thursday without a single American in the draw.

The girls’ 18s second round was highlighted by a tight three-set match featuring two Floridians – Nadia Echeverria Alam of Doral and Maci Epstein of Windermere. The girls proved to be very evenly matched, battling for more than three hours into a final-set tiebreak, where Echeverria Alam emerged with a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory. Echeverria Alam squandered multiple match points on her serve late in the third set but was able to rebound in the tiebreak.

Despite the grueling match, Echeverria Alam said she felt very fresh afterwards, even though she spent more than four hours on court Tuesday in her three-set first-round match. 

"I feel great, this is just like a practice session for me," she said afterwards. "Maci came out on fire in the first set; there wasn’t anything I could do. But I picked up my play in the second set, and even though I blew some match points, I was able to get to the tiebreak in the third set, and I’m always very confident once I get into a tiebreak."

In a second battle of Floridians, wild card Sachia Vickery looked very strong in beating Stephanie Nauta of Bradenton, 7-5, 6-1, and two girls who train full-time at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., No. 16 seed Taylor Townsend and Samantha Crawford, both advanced to the third round via straight-set victories over Slovakian qualifier Petra Uberalova and Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova, respectively. 

Two other Americans, No. 15 seed Allie Kiick of Plantation, Fla., and Christina Makarova of San Diego, dropped tough three-set matches on Wednesday. Kiick, the daughter of former Miami Dolphin Jim Kiick and last year’s 16s champion, played a strong first set against Russian Varvara Flink before losing, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, while Makarova lost to No. 12 seed Ganna Poznikhirenko of Ukraine, 7-5, 6-7, 6-1.

Otherwise, the seeds ruled the day in the girls’ 18s draws, with the top seven seeds all advancing with emphatic straight-set wins, including top seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, who thoroughly dominated Belgian Deborah Kerfs en route to a 6-0, 6-1, win. No. 2 seed Yulia Putintseva also advanced fairly easily, defeating Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., 6-3, 6-1, in a rematch of last week’s first-round match at the Eddie Herr, also won by Putintseva. 

The surprise of the boys’ 18s draw came via one of the youngest players in the competition, 15-year-old wild card Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, N.Y. After needing three sets to upset the No. 9 seed in the first round, Rubin wasted very little effort in dispatching Vietnam’s Thien Nguyen Hoang, 6-1, 6-1. Rubin, who traveled to the Czech Republic on the U.S. World Junior Tennis team in 2010 and trained with the USTA in Spain earlier this year, credited those sessions with his comfort on the clay after the match.

"I really like playing on clay," he said. "I like how the ball plays a bit slower and sits up for me, so hopefully I can keep this going."

In order to reach the quarterfinals, Rubin, the 2011 USTA Boys’ 16s National Clay Court runner-up, will have to beat No. 7 seed Patrick Ofner of Austria, who is currently No. 15 in the ITF World Junior Rankings after reaching the final of the Eddie Herr last week.

The only other American to advance to the third round on Wednesday was 2011 USTA Boys’ 18s National Clay Court Champion Alexios Halebian, who trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Halebian, who reached the semifinals at the 2010 Orange Bowl, struggled early against Russian Konstantin Gerlakh but ultimately advanced with a 7-6, 6-3 victory.

Two Texans did not fare as well, as No. 4 seed Mitchell Krueger from Aledo lost to Latvian qualifier Martins Podzus, 6-3, 7-5, while wild card Harrison Adams of New Braunfels lost to Canadian Filip Peliwo, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. 

Top seed Dominic Thiem of Austria and No. 2 seed Liam Broady both advanced to the round of 16, though Thiem was made to work for his victory. He was crushed in the first set by Lukas Mugevicius of Lithuania before rebounding with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win. Broady looked very strong in his match, dominating the first set against Brazilian Bernardo Casares en route to a 6-1, 7-5, win.

Though six American girls have reached the quarterfinals of the girls’ 16s draw, top seed Johnnise Renaud of North Miami, Fla., was not among them, as she was beaten by No. 13 seed Erin Routliffe of Canada, 6-4, 6-2, in the only matchup that featured two seeded players. In all, only four seeds have reached the quarterfinals, including No. 14 seed Rasheeda McAdoo of Palmetto Bay, Fla., the daughter of basketball Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, who beat lucky loser Terri Fleming of Alpharetta, Ga., 6-0, 6-1. McAdoo is arguably playing the best tennis among the quarterfinalists and has now lost just eight games through her three matches.

In the draw’s lone three-set match on Wednesday, Caroline Doyle of San Francisco, who trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., came from a set down to beat Alyssa Smith of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Doyle and Smith also faced each other in last week in the 16s semifinals of the Eddie Herr, where Smith won in three sets.

Elsewhere, Kimberly Yee of Las Vegas lost the first five games of her match against lucky loser Maria Smith of Houston before roaring back, winning the next nine games en route to a 7-5, 6-2, victory.

After recording the day’s biggest upset on Tuesday in the boys’ 16s draw, Jared Donaldson of Cumberland, R.I., was unable to recapture the magic against Eddie Herr 16s champion Tommy Mylnikov of Canada, as Mylkinov stormed to a 6-0, 6-2 victory. Meanwhile, Korean Hyeon Chung, who upset No. 7 seed Stefan Kozlov on Tuesday, took out American Joseph Di Giulio of Newport Beach, Calif., 6-2, 6-1, while Ukrainian lucky loser Vadym Kalyuzhnyy continued his incredible run through the draw, taking out No. 2 seed Franz Sydow of the Netherlands, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The boys’ and girls’ 16s quarterfinalists will take to the court on Thursday at 10 a.m., with the boys’ and girls’ 18s third-round matches to follow. 

Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship
Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Plantation, Fla.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Girls 18s Singles – Second Round

(1) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) def. Deborah Kerfs (BEL), 6-0, 6-1
(13) Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS) def. Mai El Kamash (EGY), 6-1, 6-2
(12) Ganna Poznikhirenko (UKR) def. Christina Makarova (San Diego), 7-5, 6-7(1), 6-1
(7) Donna Vekic (CRO) def. Kendal Woodard (Stockbridge, Ga.), 7-6(1), 6-4
(3) Indy De Vroome (NED) def. (Q) Stefania Hristov (ROU), 6-3, 6-2
(16) Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.) def. (Q) Petra Uberalova (SVK), 6-4, 6-3
Elizaveta Ianchuk (UKR) def. (WC) Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.), 5-1, Ret.
(5) Anett Kontaveit (EST) def. (WC) Anne-Liz Jeukeng (Kansas City, Mo.), 6-2, 6-3
(6) Zuzanna Maciejewska (POL) def. Julia Elbaba (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), 6-1, 6-2
(WC) Sachia Vickery (Miramar, Fla.) def. Stephanie Nauta (Bradenton, Fla.), 7-5, 6-1
Varvara Flink (RUS) def. (15) Alexandra Kiick (Plantation, Fla.), 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
(4) Ilka Csoregi (ROU) def. Karin Kennel (SUI), 6-4, 6-1
(WC) Nadia Echeverria Alam (Doral, Fla.) def. (Q) Maci Epstein (Windermere, Fla.), 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4)
Samantha Crawford (Tamarac, Fla.) def. Viktoriya Tomova (BUL), 7-5, 6-3
Anna Danilina (KAZ) def. Jennifer Brady (Boca Raton, Fla.), 7-6(1), 6-3
(2) Yulia Putintseva (RUS) def. Catherine Harrison (Germantown, Tenn.), 6-3, 6-1

Boys’ 18s Singles – Second Round
(1) Dominic Thiem (AUT) def. Lukas Mugevicius (LTU), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
(16) Hassan Ndayishimiye (BDI) def. Connor Farren (Hillsborough, Calif.), 6-3, 6-3
(10) Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) def. Jordan Angus (GBR), 6-3, 6-3
Borna Coric (CRO) def. (8) Xin Gao (CHN), 6-1, 6-1
(Q) Martins Podzus (LAT) def. (4) Mitchell Krueger (Aledo, Texas), 6-3, 7-5
Kevin Kaczynski (GER) def. (Q) Mateo Martinez (ARG), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
(12) Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) def. Jeroen Vanneste (BEL), 6-2, 6-2
Kai-Wen Lai (TPE) def. (5) Kyle Edmund (GBR), 4-3, Ret.
(6) Julien Cagnina (BEL) def. Evan Hoyt (GBR), 6-3, 6-3
Markos Kalovelonis (GRE) def. (11) Pedja Krstin (SRB), 6-7(10), 7-5, 7-6(3)
(13) Alexios Halebian (Glendale, Calif.) def. Konstantin Gerlakh (RUS), 7-6(4), 6-3
Filip Peliwo (CAN) def. (WC) Harrison Adams (New Braunfels, Texas), 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
(7) Patrick Ofner (AUT) def. Jorge Panta Herreros (PER), 6-3, 6-2
(WC) Noah Rubin (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) def. Thien Nguyen Hoang (VIE), 6-1, 6-1
(Q) Janis Podzus (LAT) def. (15) Stefan Vinti (ROU), 7-6(6), 6-3
(2) Liam Broady (GBR) def. Bernardo Casares (BRA), 6-1, 7-5

Girls’ 16s Singles - Third Round
(13) Erin Routliffe (CAN) def. (1) Johnnise Renaud (North Miami, Fla.), 6-4, 6-2
Caroline Doyle (San Francisco) def. Alyssa Smith (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
(14) Rasheeda McAdoo (Palmetto Bay, Fla.) def. (LL) Terri Fleming (Alpharetta, Ga.), 6-0, 6-1
Lexi Borr (Westfield, N.J.) def. (6) Madison Bourguignon (Issaquah, Wash.), 6-1, 7-6(10)
Jessica Ho (Wexford, Pa.) def. (5) Alexandra Morozova (Plantation, Fla.), 6-2, 6-3
Kimberly Yee (Las Vegas) def. (LL) Maria Smith (Houston), 7-5, 6-2
(9) Josie Kuhlman (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) def. (WC) Cassandra Vazquez (Houston), 7-5, 6-4
(2) Katie Boulter (GBR) def. Shannon Hudson (Virginia Beach, Va.), 6-4, 6-4

Boys’ 16s Singles – Third Round
Tommy Mylnikov (CAN) def. (WC) Jared Donaldson (Cumberland, R.I.), 6-0, 6-2
(12) Diego Pedraza (COL) def. (Q) Shane Monroe (Ventnor City, N.J.), 3-6, 6-0, 6-4
(4) Hugo Di Feo (CAN) def. Andrei Stefan Apostol (ROU), 6-3, 6-1
(9) Daniel Windahl (SWE) def. (6) Aleksandr Spirin (RUS), 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Hyeon Chung (KOR) def. (WC) Joseph DiGiulio (Newport Beach, Calif.), 6-2, 6-1
(3) Fedor Andrienko (RUS) def. (14) Lucas Miedler (AUT), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
(5) Brayden Schnur (CAN) def. (10) Patrick Ciorcila (ROU), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
(LL) Vadym Kalyuzhnyy (UKR) def. (2) Franz Sydow (NED), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4