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April 6-12, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008-Day Five
It's a long way from the 12s to the 18s -- and I'm not just talking about the mileage between sites. The power serves and strength training haven't appeared just yet, the points can go on for an eternity and the variety of shots is somewhat limited, but there are some positive things to the lack of experience. Even more than the tennis in the 12s, I enjoy the comrade. No one is trying to impress coaches or fighting over college scholarships and most of them are still just having fun.

The sites were still separated on Wednesday so I had to choose between the boys and the girls. I decided (for no particular reason) to do the boys main draw matches at the Boca Swim & Racquet Club today and was treated to quite a selection.

Into the quarterfinals, there was only one unseeded player left. Michael Kay (pictured above), whose older siblings Whitney and Casey have already left their mark on this age division, had upset No. 7 Robert Seby and No. 17 Jared Donaldson to get to this spot. Today Michael faced No. 3 Grayson Goldin and it was quite a match. There were some very long points as well as slipping and sliding on the clay to get to those balls ( at one time Michael did a split that would rival any gymnast). Between the battles on court, the two got to know each other on the bench, parting with new acquaintances when the seed took it 6-2,6-3.

In the highest seeded match of the day, No. 1 Baker Newman had a fight on his hands to retain that spot when faced with Jordan Belga, the fifth seed. There was some great volleying on this court for the under 12s from the very first game. I may have missed a few while I was watching the adjoining court, but every game I saw went to deuce at least once. The break for Baker came early for a 2-1 lead and he took the first 6-3. The second set score was a bit more indicative of the match as the two traded breaks and kept up the long games until Baker had a 7-5 win.

The second set of quarterfinals were definitely not as close as the first with more true scores and the seeding holding. No. 4 Jack Murray dealt with some endless points at the beginning of his match with No. 12 Elio Livi, but Elio could not get to the winners and Jack was the 6-1,6-2 winner. Also advancing easily was the second-seeded Daniel Kerznerman, who was by far the most energetic player of the day. It will be hard to battle the fight in this New Yorker and No. 15 Juan Padilla learned that today as Daniel did him one better on every great shot he hit. The match was over at 6-0,6-1.

I didn't get to see the girls main draw, however, I did make it over for some afternoon consolation. I arrived at the Delray Swim & Tennis Center in time for the third set between Jwany Sherif and Katrine Steffensen. Jwany had been seeded fourth in the main draw and had lost her quarterfinal match in that event in the morning. Katrine was the third seed who had fallen to Hannah King yesterday so it was clear from the numbers alone that this would be a close one.

Before I arrived, the first set had gone to Katrine at 6-1 and the second to Jwany at 6-3. The third had everything -- including line call disagreements, wind and rain -- as the players ran down winners and didn't seem to take a moment to breath. The match was so intense that the players didn't even seem to notice the sun-shower that went on for about five minutes (though the spectators certainly did). It was at that point that one of the most contested games I've seen took place. Jwany Sherif was serving for the match at 5-1 in the third. She was at triple match point, but couldn't hold the next three and then it was deuce, and match point, and deuce, and break point.... It went on through six match points and five deuce before Katrine broke for 5-2. She followed by holding serve for the 5-3, but finally ran out of steam (despite some volleys that rivaled the best in any age group) and fell 6-3.

I caught just a few minutes of the consolation between Liz Jeukeng, whom I saw last year at the Little Mo Internationals, and Angel Deng, with Liz winning 6-4,0-6,6-2, as well as Cassie Mercer vs. Keishing Clousing (Cassie's at 7-5,6-1). Keisha had lost her morning main draw quarterfinal to Hannah King, 6-1,6-4, and Angel dropped one to Gabrielle Smith, 7-6,6-1. In the remaining quarterfinal main draw girls match, No. 8 Hayley Carter took out top-seeded Brooke Austin, 4-6,6-1,6-2.

My first stop on Friday morning will be at the girls semifinals and then we'll see what the day will bring at the Delray Beach Tennis Center as I watch the newest generation of junior tennis.

Until Tomorrow,
Marcia Frost

Boys Full Draws   Girls Full Draws
Stories, Photos & Results from other Nationals

Click Here For Results from the 2007 National Spring 12s Championships

Click Here For Stories & Photos from the 2006 National Spring 12s Championships

Click Here For Stories & Photos from the 2005 National Spring 12s Championships

Click Here For Results from the from the 2004 National Spring 12s Championships

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Jwany Sherif

Jordan Belga

Katrine Steffensen

Elio Livi

Angel Deng

Juan Padilla

Liz Jeukeng
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