China-bound Blumberg, Day reach Carson quarterfinals

April 1, 2016 07:13 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to

CARSON, Calif. – Carson is a long way from China, but it is where this week’s 12th Annual USTA International Spring Championship No. 2-seeded boy and girl are headed following the ITF-level Grade 1 tournament, taking place at the StubHub Center.

Both William Blumberg, 18, and Kayla Day, 16, will compete in the second annual 2016 ITF Junior Masters at the Sichuan International Tennis Centre in Chengdu, China, April 8-10, based on their ITF world ranking at the end of the year, instead of venturing two hours southeast to attend next week’s ASICS Easter Bowl in Indians Wells, Calif.

They each had tough first-set battles Thursday, with Blumberg coming back to beat Boca Raton’s USTA-trained Gianni Ross, originally from Illinois, 7-6 (6), 6-1. Day (pictured above), who is from just up the coast in Santa Barbara, came back from a rough start to beat 15-year-old Ann Li of Devon, Pa., 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Blumberg, a high school junior who is still deciding his university of choice for fall 2017, is playing his first tournament since the 2015 US Open after recovering from mononucleosis. He experienced symptoms last year on his way to the Carson ISC title.

In the tight first set, Blumberg went up a break 4-3, then was broken but immediately broke right back. Serving for the set at 5-4, he was broken for 5-all, and the set went into a tiebreak. He battled back from down 2-5 to win the first set and then rolled in the second.

“That first set was big for me,” Blumberg said. “This is a comfortable place for me to play. My coaches and I have been working out a lot. I’m in shape and ready to go.”

Blumberg recalled being in Carson one year ago and suffering the effects of mono.

“I just played through it,” he said. “I remember being exhausted, so dead tired. I remember playing Zeke Clark in the second round, and I was up a set, and I threw up. I was exhausted, and I had no idea what was going on. I just thought I was sick. When I’m sick it forces me to be more efficient with what I do, but sometimes it’s too tough for me.”

He received his diagnosis at the end of the summer but still played in the US Open junior tournament.

“It’s the US Open, so I’m going to play,” he said. “But then I rested and haven’t played a tournament since. It’s OK. There’s no rush for me.”

Blumberg is ready to start setting up college trips but wouldn’t divulge any top choices.

Day said her timing was off in her first-set loss to Li, 15, from Devon, Pa., whom she had beaten in their only other meeting two long years ago.

“She definitely played well, and my timing was off in the first set,” she said.

Day is currently being coached by USTA National Coach Henner Nehles in Boca Raton, Fla. Nehles is a former UNLV standout, who continues to get the most out of all the players he coaches.

“He brings so much intensity to every workout,” said Day, who will be traveling with her Southern California coach Mike Gennette to China. “I’m really excited about every part of the trip, except the long flight to China.”

In the boys’ 16s semifinals, No. 2 Axel Nefve of Hinsdale, Ill., will battle No. 12 Eric Hahn of Fullerton, Calif., and No. 6 Adam Neff of Bradenton, Fla., will meet No. 5 Vikash Singh of Hilton Head Island, S.C.

In the girls’ 16 semifinals, unseeded Eryn Cayetano of Corona, Calif., will face off against No. 14-seeded Jessi Muljat of Sacramento, Calif., while Hailey Baptiste of Takoma Park, Md., will take on Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek, Calif.

All matches can be followed via live scoring through Tennis Ticker, the ITF’s official live scoring company.

For complete information on the tournament, click here.