At The Open With Marcia Frost...
Wednesday, August 21st-Qualifying Day Two
Phillip King is no stranger to the US Open. This is his third wildcard (the others were into the main draw for his wins at the National Hardcourts). It looked like this was going to be the one he used to break through, but today was not the day.
The matchup between Phillip King and fellow American Michael Russell was a dream for the fans. They were both sharp, tracking down balls that looked like they couldn't be caught and hitting shots that looked impossible. The deuce scoring in the first game was just a preview of this close match. Michael pulled the extra bit in the first set for a 6-4 win, while Phillip had the edge in the second, 6-3. The third set was up for grabs and Michael -- perhaps only because he had more a little more experience -- took it 6-3.
Seventeen year old Brian Baker has also been here before in the qualifying and men's main draws. Despite his stature showing the contrary, he's not quite ready to play with the big boys. Brian, who holds the distinction of being ranked No. 1 in the USTA National Boys' 16s and 18s concurrently for nearly a year, was overpowered by Brazil's Ricardo Mello. It was not that Brian did not show his talent out there, but the No. 21 seed didn't allow much to get through. The elder advanced, 6-2,6-3.
Another junior who has seen time on the courts of the National Tennis Center is Kristen Schlukebir. Kristen, is not stranger to pressure, having survived as the No. 1 player in the Girls' 18s while only 15 years old. The now 18 year old fought an entertaining battle with Bahia Mouhtassine of Morocco. The breaks continued and the volleys were incredible as the players went back and forth. There were a few questionable calls that rattled Kristen, but she kept coming back and even survived two match points before losing, 7-5,6-4.
When the petite Lucie Ahl of Great Britain appeared on court it looked as though she should be the junior. She stood about a foot shorter than Tanner Cochran and did not look to have the confidence, but she had what it took. Despite the fact that Tanner is the best volleyer among the juniors (and perhaps one of the best anywhere), her serve was just not there today and it cost her. Lucie kept up a steady pace and won the match, 6-1,6-3.
Tanner Cochran and Kristen Schlukebir will be playing together in women's doubles. The two have frequently partnered and made it to the semis of the junior draw here last year. They were given the wildcard into the main draw after their win at the USTA Super National Hardcourts.
The University of Georgia had two players in the qualifying this afternoon. The hard-hitting Brandon Wagner just didn't have enough to get past Danai Udomokhe of Thailand. The points were quick and Danai took the majority for a 6-4,6-2 win. Bo Hodge, on the other hand, came to the Open with a little more experience, having spent the Fall competing in Futures and Challengers before returning to Georgia. He has an incredible serve, but the aces were not enough to get him past the No. 32 seed, Bjorn Phau. The German took the match, 6-4,6-3.
Word seems to have caught on that US Open Qualifying is the place to be. Where else can you see such quality tennis for free? The crowds have begun and it looks like they will continue to standing room only next week. Though they had hoped for a glimpse of a rising young star, it was not to be this week.
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