At The Open
With Marcia Frost...
Thursday, September 7th
Junior Championships, Day Five
My Thursday column is late because I decided to go out and watch the James Blake-Roger Federer match. It was quite a match as James proved that he had nine lives, making comeback after comeback. Yes, he lost in the end, but he gave it everything he had. There's a lot of that in junior tennis too and Thursday's matches showed some great examples of that.
At the Girls 18 Nationals, I told everyone that I thought Lauren Albanese would win and she proved me right. I had the same prediction for the U.S. Open Junior Championships. That was a long three weeks ago for both of us and, though she's looking a bit tired (and so am I), she made it one step closer today.
I was not at all surprised that Madison Brengle came out swinging and took a 3-0 lead against Lauren Albanese. The 16 year old from Delaware had not played doubles and had been looking pretty solid in the singles. The tennis was top-notch and thrilled the growing crowd. Even though, Lauren broke back and they were back on serve at 4-3, the games were all close and the points were great -- until Lauren's break. Then it became a very different match. Madison missed volleys, made errors and just couldn't get her game back. After the 6-4 first it was a very quick 6-1 second for Lauren Albanese.
Two other American girls dropped out of the round of 16. Ashley Weinhold hung in there as long as she could through obvious pain in her thigh, but she just couldn't get it past 15 year old New Zealand phenom Sacha Jones. Sacha came back from a first set loss to take the second 6-2 and then rebounded from two match points down to win the final set 7-5. Ashley did feel well enough to win a great doubles match with partner Kristy Frilling over seventh-seeded Wing Yau Venise Chan & Teliana Pereira.
The final American girl to end her run in singles today was Julia Cohen. It was a back and forth match that I can only describe as having seen before -- with Julia Cohen. I headed over there as soon as I could to find the 17 year old leading 5-3. I thought it would be a good time to grab my liquid lunch (a smoothie) and catch the next set. When I arrived back at Court 11, however, I found Raluca Olaru leading 6-5 and it was a very different match. The tenth seeded Romanian actually took the set in a 7/3 breaker.
After a medical time out, Julia Cohen, who was seeded sixth, came back to play some great points and take the second set 6-4. The third was full of long games, though I can't really say they were great ones, and Raluca was the one with the breaks and the 6-3 win.
While the girls were trading breaks and sets, last year's doubles winner (unfortunately he had to drop out of doubles this year after partner Dennis Lajola injured his hand), Donald Young had no problem dismissing Australia's Greg Jones, 6-3,6-4, to earn his place as the final American boy in the singles draw.
There may only be two Americans left in singles, but there seems to be a real homecourt advantage in doubles. In addition to Ashley Weinhold & Kristy Frilling, Chelsey Gullickson & Jamie Hampton advanced, as did Lena Litvak (with Sacha Jones.) There are also some boys representing the U.S., with Jarmere Jenkins & Austin Krajicek on one side of the draw and
Jamie Hunt & Nathaniel Schnugg on the other.
Also on Thursday, both No. 3 seeds were upset. Japan's Ayumi Morito, fell to Croatian Petra Mortic in straight sets, while Artem Smirnov took out Nicholas Santos in three. The fourth seed is also gone in the girls draw as Sharon Fichman (13) eliminated Mihaela Buzarnescu, only losing one game in the process.
Friday is going to be a day full of great matches in the U.S. Open Junior Championships as the quarterfinals are played and the very best in the world have a chance to shine through.