Eleven Americans reach Metropolia Orange Bowl quarterfinals

December 12, 2014 06:22 AM

By Pat Mitsch, USTA.com
– Caroline Dolehide’s game got bigger. Her reputation soon followed.
Behind the same dominant serve and forehand she rode to the girls’ semifinals at the US Open this summer, Dolehide advanced to the quarterfinals of the Metropolia Orange Bowl Thursday by overpowering fellow American Dasha Ivanova, 6-1, 6-1, at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center.
On Friday, she’ll meet No. 2 seed CiCi Bellis for a spot in the semifinals. With a victory, Bellis would leapfrog No. 1-ranked Xu Shilin and clinch the International Tennis Federation’s year-end No. 1 ranking, becoming the second American girl in the last three years to do so at the Orange Bowl (after Taylor Townsend in 2012).
While Bellis opened eyes at the US Open with her upset of Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, Dolehide made a surprise run to the girls’ semifinals as a qualifying wild card, ranked No. 590 in the world among juniors. It was a breakout performance from the 16-year-old Hinsdale, Ill., native that, in hindsight, perhaps shouldn’t have come as a shock.
Dolehide advanced to the semifinals at the Eddie Herr Junior Championships last week in Bradenton, Fla., and her world junior ranking – now No. 87 – will spike again on Monday with her showing here in Plantation. Turns out Dolehide’s newfound standing on the world stage traces back to a decision she made upon hearing that she’d been awarded the wild card into girls’ qualifying in New York.
“I was like, 'Might as well just work really hard and work on my serve and my forehand,'” Dolehide said. “And it worked out really well at the US Open, so I worked at it even more, and now I’m doing really well in ITFs.”
Dolehide worked with her longtime coach Tom Lockhart to take her game up a level, to play more like a professional. As a result, she’s attracting a higher level of attention, from both clothing companies and college coaches alike, as she now plays international-level junior events.
“I got a lot of interviews. A lot of clothes companies wanted to sponsor me,” said Dolehide, who comes from an athletic family; her sister, Courtney, played tennis for UCLA and Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Gorzelanny is a second cousin. “It’s just so different from playing all these national tournaments. Doing really well in the ITF is a whole ‘nother world. You just meet so many different people. It’s a totally different game.”
Bellis (Atherton, Calif.) and Dolehide are two of five American girls to advance to the Girls’ 18s quarterfinals, including No. 13 Sofia Kenin (Pembroke Pines, Fla.); qualifier Kayla Day (Santa Barbara, Calif.), who toughed out a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over fellow American Michaela Gordon (Los Altos Hills, Calif.); and IMG-trained qualifier Ingrid Neel, a Rochester, Minn., native who pulled the biggest upset of the day, edging No. 8 Sandra Samir of Egypt, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (6).
The American picture looks even brighter in the Boys’ 18s draw, where six of the eight quarterfinalists represent the U.S.: No. 2 Stefan Kozlov (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), No. 3 Taylor Fritz (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), No. 5 Michael Mmoh (Bradenton, Fla.), No. 9 Alex Rybakov, Reilly Opelka (Palm Coast, Fla.) and William Blumberg (Greenwich, Conn.).
Fritz (pictured above) – a Wimbledon boys’ semifinalist this summer – came from 3-0 down in each set to defeat Canadian Dennis Shapovalov, 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday. Fritz is the No. 3 seed here and recently won the red-clay Yucatan Cup in Mexico, though he still doesn’t quite see himself as a favorite among the American crop, at least on green clay courts.
“They’re all doing well, but I don’t really see myself with them on this surface,” said Fritz, whose mother, Kathy, was a Top 10 pro and a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist in the 1970s. “I don’t feel that expecting of myself on green clay, so it’s always nice to stay with them."
"At the end of the day, if I would have lost," he joked, "I would have blamed it on the surface, probably.”

Click here for Thursday's results.

For draws, schedules and complete tournament information, visit orangebowltennis.org.