Crawford extends win streak at International Spring Championships

April 2, 2016 07:37 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to

CARSON, Calif. – Oliver Crawford won his ninth consecutive singles match at the USTA International Spring Championships dating back to last year, as the 16-year-old from Spartanburg, S.C., advanced to the semifinals in the boys’ 18s on Friday at the 12th annual tournament.

The No. 10 seed (pictured above), who won five matches on his way to winning the boys’ 16s singles title a year ago, beat unseeded Alafia Ayeni of San Diego, 7-6 (1), 6-3. Crawford will face Liam Caruana of Austin, Texas, in Saturday’s semifinals.

“It was a great two weeks for me here last year,” said Crawford, who lost in the doubles semifinals later Friday with US Open Junior doubles finalist Brandon Holt of nearby Rolling Hills, Calif. “I had played [Ayeni] a couple of times and knew he’s just so aggressive.”

After winning Carson last year, Crawford continued his winning ways by also winning the 16s title the next week at the ASICS Easter Bowl.

Seventeen-year-old Sam Riffice, the No. 5 seed from Granite Bay, Calif., was also feeling quite at home on the Carson hard courts. He got off to a fast start, going up 3-0 in each set to also advance to the semifinals by way of his 7-5, 6-1 win over Duarte Vale of Portugal.

Riffice was eliminated by defending champion William Blumberg in last year’s third round at Carson but, a week later, exacted some sweet revenge, beating Blumberg in the semifinals at the ASICS Easter Bowl before falling to Taylor Fritz in the final.

Riffice’s opponent in Saturday’s semifinals is none other than Blumberg.

“Last year’s Easter Bowl was great for me because it increased my ranking and allowed me to get straight into some bigger tournaments,” said Riffice, who trains with the USTA in Boca Raton, Fla.

“It’s great to be back in California and playing on these courts,” Riffice added. “This is my first tournament on hard courts since the US Open; that’s like six or seven months straight on clay. I’ve been training on it for a couple of years now, so it’s not as bad as when I first started.”

In the girls’ 18s semifinals, unseeded Meible Chi of Weston, Fla., will take on No. 2 seed Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif. In the other semifinal, No. 5 Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., meets top-seeded Amanda Anisimova of Hallandale Beach, Fla. All four semifinalists won in straight sets Friday.

The boys’ and girls’ 16s finals are also set, as No. 6 Adam Neff of Bradenton, Fla., will play No. 2 Axel Nefve of Hinsdale, Ill. Neff won the boys’ 14s title at the ASICS Easter Bowl last year.

Neff will also play in the boys’ 16s doubles final with fellow Bradenton resident Tyler Zink. Neff is currently being coached by former University of Georgia All-American Brandon Wagner, who was John Isner’s first pro coach after Isner left Georgia.

In the girls’ 16s singles final, it will be an All-NorCal matchup, as No. 14 Jessi Muljat of Sacramento, Calif., meets No. 15 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.