Levine moving forward at Metropolia Orange Bowl

December 11, 2013 03:25 PM

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By Pat Mitsch
– There are times when Robert Levine looks back and thinks, “At least I’m here. At least I’m still competing.” This probably wasn’t one of them.
The 16-year old from Bedford, N.Y., topped his opponent, Andrew Heller of Weston, Fla., 7-5, 6-3, in the boys’ 16s second round at the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Plantation, Fla., taking yet another step forward from a rare spinal injury that once left him nearly unable to walk.
In April 2011, Levine was diagnosed with an interspinous ligament avulsion, where a ligament tore a piece of bone off of his spine. His body, in an attempt to heal itself, had formed what appeared to be a mass near the break. He had surgery for the injury and spent eight months away from the tennis court. At first, he needed a walker to get around.
That seems long in the past now, as Levine chased down forehands and raced to catch drop shots on the Frank Veltri Tennis Center’s clay on Tuesday. He’s the No. 9 seed in the 16s singles draw, and while he admits that he sometimes takes consolation in that he’s merely still playing tennis, that mostly comes after a loss. He hasn’t had many of those lately.

“I feel good. My back is pretty much normal now,” Levine said. “Obviously, sometimes I get a little more sore than normal, but I think I’m moving fine. A year ago, I probably assumed I would be fine, but I was probably unsure.”
The pain began as soreness and aching. It gradually got worse. Initially, the injury was diagnosed as a stress fracture, but when the pain persisted, Levine and his family connected with Dr. Andrew Hecht, the co-chief of spine surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, who recognized the unusual problem.
Hecht, in interviews with both The Journal News newspaper near Levine’s hometown and the website EverydayHealth.com, mentioned that there were only a few cases of this documented in world literature. Oddly enough, Hecht had seen one of them, in an elite dancer who now is a cheerleader for a pro football team. Hecht operated in August 2011, and soon thereafter Levine began an intensive recovery.
“At that point, as a parent, I’m not thinking about tennis. I’m thinking about walking,” said Levine’s mother, Lauren. “It was tough, but he had a really good support system.”
Four months after surgery, Levine began to play tennis again, slowly. On the court, he would hit for five or 10 minutes, at most, and be winded.
“Coming back, everything’s so slow,” Levine said. “We were starting so slowly. Then, each week, you start doing a little bit more, a little bit more. But it’s good because when you come back slowly, you actually see, like, more of a progression.
“Even when I started playing tournaments again, I wasn’t fully back to where I was. I wasn’t injured, but my level wasn’t the same, obviously. It takes a while to get back into the competitive mode.”
It’s safe to say he’s into it now. In September, Levine won two ITF junior singles titles, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Last week, he reached the 16s doubles final at the Eddie Herr International Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He’s now begun training there, with Jorge Gonzalez, in addition to his training with Carl Thorsen at Gotham Tennis Academy in New York.
“Before the injury, I guess, I thought I would be at this level. But, I mean, who knows?” said Levine, who won the USTA Boys’ 12s national title back in 2010. “From recovering, I’ve recovered exactly how I thought I would. Coming back off the injury, for the most part, I think I’m meeting my own expectations.”
Many of Tuesday’s singles players may have shared that sentiment, as all seven of the boys’ 18s seeds in action won, including 15-year old Stefan Kozlov (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), the No. 4 seed, who defeated Grenada’s Yannick James, 6-4, 6-2.
The most unpredictable results came in the second round of the girls’ 16s bracket, where Jaclyn Switkes (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) upended top-seeded Abi Altick (Monroe, La.), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, just days after Altick had won the girls’ 16s singles title at the Eddie Herr International Championships. Third-seeded Jenna Friedel (Mill Valley, Calif.) fell as well, to Madison Appel (Locust Valley, N.Y.), 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
See full results from Tuesday’s matches below.
Boys' 18s Singles:
First round

No. 3 Filippo Baldi, ITA d. Julian Zlobinsky, USA, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
No. 4 Stefan Kozlov, USA d. Yannik James, GRN, 6-4, 6-2
No. 5 Quentin Halys, FRA d. Zhe Zhou, CHN, 6-3, 6-1
No. 8 Naoki Nakagawa, JPN d. Alexandre Muller, FRA, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1
No. 10 Kamil Majchrzak, POL d. Alex Rybakov, USA, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
No. 11 Lucas Miedler, AUT d. Mark Epshteyn-Losev, USA, 6-1, 6-0
No. 12 Andrey Rublev, RUS d. Sumit Nagal, IND, 6-4, 6-3
Martin Redlicki, USA d. Marko Osmakcic, SUI, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
Phillip Gresk, POL d. Logan Smith, USA, 7-6(4), 6-3
Deiton Baughman, USA d. Omar Jasika, AUS, 7-6(9), 6-7(3), 6-4
Carter Lin, USA d. Alan Nunez Aguilera, MEX, 6-2, 6-3
William Blumberg, USA d. Matias Zukas, ARG, 6-3, 6-2
Henrik Wiersholm, USA d. Fajing Sun, CHN, 6-2, 6-4
Boys' 18s Doubles:
First round
No. 1 Andrey Rublev, RUS/Alexander Zverev, GER
    d. Danny Kerznerman, USA/Spencer Papa, USA, 6-2, 0-6 [10-5]
No. 3 Michael Mmoh, USA/Francis Tiafoe, USA d. Nam Hoang Ly, VIE/Weiqiang Zheng, CHN, 6-3, 6-0
No. 7 Seong Chan Hong, KOR//Ku Keon Kang, KOR
    d. Alan Nunez Aguilera, MEX/Marcelo Zormann, BRA, 7-5, 4-6 [10-5]
No. 8 Gabriel Vellinho Hocevar, BRA/Rafael Matos, BRA
    d. Benjamin Hannestad, DEN/Carter Lin, USA, 7-5, 6-1
Deiton Baughman, USA/Tommy Mylnikov, CAN
    d. Sora Fukuda, JPN/Alejandro Tabilo, CAN, 6-1, 3-6 [11-9]
Hubert Hurkackz, POL/Marko Osmakcic, SUI
    d. William Blumberg, USA/Reilly Opelka, USA, 7-6(6), 4-6 [10-8]
Omar Jasika, AUS v. Rogelio Siller, MEX d. Mark Epshteyn-Losev, USA/Myles Schalet, USA, 7-6(3), 7-5
Stefan Kozlov, USA/Henrik Wiersholm, USA d. Quentin Halys, FRA/Alexandre Muller, FRA, 6-3, 6-3
Girls' 18s Singles:
First round

No. 1 Varvara Flink, RUS d. Jill Teichmann, SUI, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Katarina Jokic, BIH d. No. 7 Katrine Isabel Steffensen, USA, 7-6(10), 6-3
No. 9 Akvile Parazinskaite, LTU d. Anastasia Shaulskaya, RUS, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 11 Jelena Ostapenko, LAT d. Kaitlyn McCarthy, USA, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
No. 12 Sandra Samir, EGY d. Natalia Vikhlyantseva, RUS, 6-3, 7-5
Katherine Sebov, CAN d. CiCi Bellis, USA, 6-3, 7-6(3)
Bianka Bekefi, HUN d. Caroline Dolehide, USA, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5)
Jaqueline Adina Cristian, ROU d. Emilie Francati, DEN, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5
Andreea Ghitescu, ROU d. Ellyse Hamlin, USA, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Alexis Prokopuik, CAN d. Rebeka Stolmar, HUN, 6-1, 6-4
Emily Arbuthnott, GBR d. Alentini Grammatikopoulou, GRE, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
Julia Terziyska, BUL d. Daria Lodikova, RUS, 6-3, 6-2
Jessica Golovin, USA d. Anastasiya Rychagova, RUS, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
Jacqueline Cabaj Awad, SWE d. Aleksandra Pospelova, RUS, 6-4, 7-6(7)
Ellie Halbauer, USA d. Naiktha Bains, AUS, 6-3, 7-5
Girls' 18s Doubles:
First round

No. 1 Varvara Flink, RUS/Ivana Jorovic, SRB d. Caroline Dolehide, USA/Mia Horvit, USA, 6-2, 6-3
No. 3 Dasha Ivanova, USA/Katrine Isabel Steffensen, USA
    d. Emily Arbuthnott, GBR/Jessica Golovin, USA, 6-2, 6-3
No. 5 Naiktha Bains, AUS/Tornado Alicia Black, USA
    d. Aleksandra Pospelova, RUS/Anatasia Shaulskaya, RUS, 7-5, 6-1
Gabriella Castaneda, USA/Lana Rush, GBR
    d. No. 6 Ioana Ducu, ROU/Elena Gabriela Ruse, ROU, walkover
Anna Bondar, HUN/Michaela Gordon/USA d. Sabrina Faybyshev, USA/Julia Grabher, AUT, 3-6, 6-0 [11-9]
CiCi Bellis, USA/Katerina Stewart, USA d. Asiya Dair, KAZ/Anastasiya Rychagova, RUS, 7-5, 6-2
Emilie Francati, DEN/Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
    d. Lesedi Sheya Jacobs, NAM/Theresa Alison Van Zyl, RSA, 7-65), 6-7(6) [10-3]
Alexis Prokopuik, CAN/Luisa Stefani, BRA d. Ellyse Hamlin, USA/Marie Norris, USA, 4-6, 6-3 [10-5]
Boys' 16s Singles:
Second round

No. 1 Yunseong Chung, KOR d. Chase Colton, USA, 6-1, 6-0
No. 2 Chan-Yeong Oh, KOR d. Brian Tsao, USA, 6-1, 6-4
No. 5 Ulises Blanch, USA d. Salvador Mijares, VEN, 6-3, 6-1
No. 6 Eero Vasa, FIN d. Igor Schattan, BRA, 6-4, 6-4
No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas, GRE d. Casper Ruud, NOR, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
No. 8 Soon Woo Kwon, KOR d. Alexander Lebedev, USA, 6-3, 6-2
No. 9 Robert Levine, USA d. Andrew Heller, USA, 7-5, 6-3
Tyler Schick, USA d. No. 11 Harrison Scott, CAN, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
No. 13 Tadas Babelis, LTU d. Nathan Perrone, USA, 7-6(5), 6-4
No. 14 Mert Zincirli, TUR d. Stephen Madonia, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4
No. 16 Sameer Kumar, USA d. Alexey Aleshchev, RUS, 6-1, 6-2
Austin Hussey, USA d. Daniel Soyfer, USA, 6-1, 6-4
Alfredo Perez, USA d. Matthew Gamble, USA, 6-3, 6-3
Eduardo Nava, USA d. Zeke Clark, USA, 6-1, 7-5
Kalman Boyd, USA d. Goradz Srbljak, MKD, 6-3, 6-2
Kyle Seelig, USA d. Gerardo Pencyna Cardenas, MEX, 6-1, 6-4
Boys' 16s Doubles:
Second round

No. 1 Chan-Yeong Oh, KOR/Yunseong Chung, KOR
    d. Jonathan Deautriell, USA/Daniel Soyfer, USA, 6-2, 6-1
Riki Oshima, JPN/Mate Valkusz, HUN d. No. 2 Tadas Babelis, LTU/Eero Vasa, FIN, 3-6, 6-3 [13-11]
Zeke Clark, USA/Nathan Perrone, USA d. No. 3 Basil Khuma, IND/Robert Levine, USA, walkover
Hady Habib, USA/Stephen Madonia, USA d. No. 4 Ata Hergunvarim, TUR/Mert Zincirli, TUR, 7-5, 6-2
No. 5 Dimitris Stavropoulos, GRE/Stefanos Tsitsipas, GRE d. Kyle Seelig, USA/Brian Tsao, USA, 6-1, 6-4
No. 6 Agustin Moreno, MEX/Gerardo Penchyna Cardenas, MEX
    d. Grayson Broadus, USA/Chase Colton, USA, 7-6(1), 6-4
No. 7 Kalman Boyd, USA/Sameer Kumar, USA d. Emily Reinberg, USA/Evan Zhu, USA, 6-3, 6-1
William Genesen, USA/Soon Woo Kwon, KOR d. Matthew Gamble, USA/Tyler Schick, USA, walkover
Girls' 16s Singles:
Second round

Jaclyn O’Brien Switkes, USA d. No. 1 Helen Altick, USA, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
Madison Appel, USA d. No. 3 Jenna Friedel, USA, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
No. 4 Lisa Ponomar, GER d. Gabriella Pollner, USA, 6-1, 6-1
No. 5 Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN d. Brienne Minor, USA, 6-3, 6-3
No. 6 Sofia Sewing, USA d. Rebecca Weissmann, USA, 7-5, 6-1
No. 7 Meghan Kelley, USA d. Naomi Idelis Waters, USA, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0
No. 8 Stephanie Nemtsova, USA d. Priyanka Sundhar, USA, 7-6(2), 4-1, ret.
No. 11 Ojasivee Singh, IND d. Adriana Reami, USA, 6-7(3), 7-6(1), 6-2
No. 12 Nandini Das, IND d. Alexa Graham, USA, 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(5)
No. 13 Sydney Arnea Riley, USA d. Valerie Quiceno, USA, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
Vanessa Wong, CAN d. No. 14 Hada Chang, USA, 6-2, 6-0
Jada Hart, USA d. No. 16 Raveena Kinglsey, USA, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)
Elene Tsokilauri, USA d. Jessica Livianu, USA, 7-6(2), 6-0
Diana Dehterevich, BLR d. Kenya Williams, USA, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5
Dominique Schaefer, USA d. Alexa Bortles, USA, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Alexis Nelson, USA d. Camila Romero, ECU, 6-0, 6-0
Girls' 16s Doubles:
Second round

No. 1 Stephanie Nemtsova, USA/Lisa Ponomar, GER
    d. Danna Funaro, USA/Anna Sinclair Rogers, USA, 6-1, 6-3
No. 2 Helen Abigail Altick, USA/Alexa Bortles, USA d. Nandini Das, IND/ShiYu Xu, CHN, 7-5, 0-6, [10-6]
No. 3 Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN/Vanessa Wong, CAN
    d. Meghan Kelley, USA/Gabriella Pollner, USA, 7-6(9), 6-3
No. 4 Hada Chang, USA/Sydney Riley, USA d. Adriana Reami, USA/Taylor Russo, USA, 6-2, 6-2
Jada Hart, USA/Stephanie Hazell, USA d. No. 7 Madison Appel, USA/Alexa Corcoleotes, USA, 6-3, 6-4
Brienne Minor, USA/Jaclyn O’Brien Switkes, USA
    d. Alexandra Angyalosy, USA/Amber Policare, USA, 6-3, 6-2
Jenna Friedel, USA/Alexis Nelson, USA d. Nadia Gizdova, USA/Christina Rosca, USA, 6-2, 5-7 [10-8]
Ingrid Neel, USA/Dominique Schaefer, USA
    d. Jacqueline Urbinati, USA/Rebecca Wissmann, USA, 6-3, 6-3


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