No. 1 Blumberg to play No. 2 Kecmanovic in boys' 18s final

April 5, 2015 07:53 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to

CARSON, Calif. – Top-seed William Blumberg left no doubt once again that he’s a step ahead of the rest of the field at the 11th annual USTA International Spring Championships. The 17-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., has not lost a set in five wins, including his 6-2, 6-3, semifinal victory over good friend and doubles partner Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Blumberg (pictured above) has one more test ahead of him in Sunday's boys' 18s final, where he faces No. 2 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. Kecmanovic looked equally dominating in his 6-3, 6-3 win Saturday over USC-bound Kalman Boyd.

Former Junior Davis Cup teammates Blumberg and Ponwith have been rooming together this week and, following their semifinal match, competed together in the doubles final, where they fell in a close match to Benjamin Hannestad and Alejandro Tabilo, 6-3, 2-6, 10-4. 

Spending so much time together and facing his friend on the court made Blumberg uneasy from the time he awoke on Saturday.

“I was really nervous before the match, but after the first point, it kind of fades away," said Blumberg, ranked No. 17 in the ITF World Junior Rankings. "Your opponent just becomes a guy on the other side, and it doesn’t really matter who it is. There was just a mental part of the match that I had to get past.”

The Easter Sunday final at 9 a.m. PT will for the second straight year feature the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded players. Last year, No. 2 Naoki Nakagawa of Japan beat top-seeded Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Md., in an exciting third-set tiebreak.

Kecmanovic is from Belgrade, Serbia, and trains with the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis program in Florida. He is visiting Carson for the first time and said he arrived early last Friday to get adjusted to the hard court, as he normally trains on clay.

The heavy hitter boasts a blistering forehand and has hit before with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is from his hometown.

“He said he wants to hit again at Wimbledon,” Kecmanovic said.

In the girls’ 18s singles semifinals, No. 2 Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., got past No. 3 Michaela Gordon of Saratoga, Calif., 6-2, 6-3, and will next face No. 4 Fanni Stollar, who beat her IMG Academy teammate and No. 7 Ingrid Neel, 6-4, 6-4, for the championship.

In the boys’ 16s final, No. 6 Oliver Crawford of Spartanburg, S.C., outlasted No. 5 Andrew Fenty of Washington, 6-0, 2 6, 6-3, to take the title.

“This is the biggest win for me, for sure,” said Crawford. “It was a great week here for me. Now it’s on to the Easter Bowl next week.”

In the girls’ 16s final, Natasha Subhash, the No. 15 seed from Fairfax, Va., came back to beat No. 4 Victoria Flores of Fort Dodge, Iowa, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (0), 6-1.

“I was more in control of the third set, and I found my serve,” said Subhash, 13. “It’s amazing to win this tournament, as it’s the first ITF I’ve ever played.”

Flores served for the match at 6-5 in the second set but said she shanked two balls to send it into a tiebreak, where Subhash proceeded to reel off seven straight points to take the second set.

“She played really well in the tiebreaker, and I wasn’t able to do anything,” Flores said.

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