It was an exceptionally long day on the courts for three of the four girls that moved on to the semifinals at the ITF Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships at StubHub Center on Friday.
It was especially long for Michaela Gordon and Sonya Kenin in the Girls’ 18s, who both needed three sets to advance in singles, and then later played in quarterfinal doubles matches with Gordon of Saratoga, Calif., advancing to both the singles semifinals and doubles final to be played on Saturday.
Gordon, the 15-year-old No. 3 seed in singles, beat No. 6 Katherine Sebov of Canada, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, and will face Kenin in one of Saturday’s semifinals. Kenin also needed three sets to take out local SoCal’s unseeded Emma Higuchi, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, but later fell in her doubles quarterfinal.
In the other 18s semifinal it will be No. 7 Ingrid Neel of Bradenton, Fla., against her IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy rival and No. 4-seeded Fanni Stollar of Hungary.
The two have never faced each other in a tournament match. “We’ve never played each other but we train together a lot!” said Neel, 16, originally from Rochester, Minn. “It’ll be a little bit of both fun and tough. I’m going to try and have as much fun as I can and try to win. It will be a battle and I’m looking forward to it.”
Neel played great down the stretch to upset top-seeded Usue Arconada, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Just two weeks ago, Neel surprised many with a huge win in the qualifying of the WTA Miami Open where she beat No. 7 seed and WTA No. 85 Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-2.
“I’m so glad I was able to have that experience,” she said. “Miami was just so great, and I’m so glad I had a chance to do it so early in my career. With the pros and juniors there is just such a big difference. In the pros they just don’t give you a point and I’ve been trying to do concentrate on that here. Just act like a pro a little bit.”
Gordon, 15, won her first ITF junior title in January beating Kenin in three sets in the semifinals of the Grade 1 Costa Rica event. “There are so many good players here,” said Gordon, beaten in the first round at Carson by Arconada in 2013, and by Jessica Ho in the Round of 16 last year. “I’ve been playing aggressive and getting better as I go. (Sebov) played so good from the start. There was nothing I could do at the beginning. I thought if she beats me this way, it’s fine. She was playing like a top 50 pro player. She was hitting winners everywhere.”
Gordon, traditionally known as a defensive player, says she added some offense to her game. “Now I’m starting to change my game so I have both offense and defense,” she said. “If I would have just defended today, there was no way. I’m starting to be more aggressive.”
Top-seeded Boys’ 18s player William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., didn’t need much time to dispatch unseeded and Notre Dame-bound Johnathan Small of Zionsville, Ind., 6-1, 6-0. He will face No. 5 Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz., in one semifinal. Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic, the No. 2 seed, takes on USC-bound Kalman Boyd of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., in the other semifinal.
In the Boys’ 16s final on Saturday, it will be No. 6 Oliver Crawford of Spartanburg, S.C., against No. 5 Andrew Fenty of Washington, D.C.
In the Girls’ 16s final, No. 4 Victoria Flores of Fort Dodge, Iowa, meets No. 15 Natasha Subhash of Fairfax, Va.
To follow all the action this week at Carson, log onto www.radiotennis.com for Ken Thomas’ commentary and interviews. To follow the live scores online, go to www.tennis-ticker.com. For a complete run down of scores and updated draws, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.
For Saturday’s complete schedule of play, go here SMALL Order of Play Saturday.
Boys’ 18 Singles (Quarterfinal Round)
William Blumberg (1) (Greenwich, CT) def. Johnathan Small (Zionsville, IN) 6-1, 6-0
Kalman Boyd (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) def. Robert Levine (16) (Bedford, NY) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic (2) (Boca Raton, FL) def. Jake Van Emburgh (Verona, WI) 7-6(3), 6-1
Nathan Ponwith (5) (Scottsdale, AZ) def. Alejandro Tabilo (4) (Etobicoke, Ontairo) 7-6(3), 6-1
Boys’ 18 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Benjamin Hannestad / Alejandro Tabilo (3) (Etobicoke, Ontario) def. Ulises Blanch (Deerfield Beach, FL) / Liam Caruana (2) (New Braunfels, TX) 7-5, 6-4
William Blumberg (Greenwich, CT) / Nathan Ponwith (1) (Scottsdale, AZ) def. Robert Levine (Bedford, NY) / Catalin Mateas (6) (Braintree, MA) 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5)
Girls’ 18 Singles (Quarterfinal Round)
Fanni Stollar (4) def. Kelly Chen (Cerritos, CA) 6-2, 7-5
Sonya Kenin (2) (Pembroke Pines, FL) def. Emma Higuchi (Los Angeles, CA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Ingrid Neel (7) (Bradenton, FL) def. Usue Arconada (1) (Rio Piedras, PR) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
Michaela Gordon (3) (Saratoga, CA) def. Katherine Sebov (6) (Woodbridge, ON) 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4
Girls’ 18 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Michaela Gordon (Saratoga, CA) / Raquel Pedraza (4) (Claremont, CA) def. Emma Higuchi (Los Angeles, CA) / Katherine Sebov (5) (Woodbridge, ON) 2-6, 6-0, 10-7
Caroline Dolehide (Hinsdale, IL) / Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) def. Kayla Day (Santa Barbara, CA) / Sonya Kenin (3) (Pembroke Pines, FL) 6-3, 6-4
Boys’ 16 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Oliver Crawford (6) (Spartanburg, SC) def. Austen Huang (8) (Elk Grove, CA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Andrew Fenty (5) (Washington, DC) def. Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY) 3 6, 6 1, 6 2
Boys’ 16 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY) / Ryan Seggerman (Coronado, CA) def. Adam Sraberg (Los Angeles, CA) / Matthew Tsolakyan (Glendale, CA) 2-6, 7-5, 10-6
Brian Cernoch (North Bethesda, MD) / Oliver Crawford (1) (Spartanburg, SC) def. Danny Thomas (Pickerington, OH) / Maximilian Wild (Carmel, IN) 6-2, 3-6, 10-3
Girls’ 16 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Natasha Subhash (15) (Fairfax, VA) def. Alexandra Belaya (2) (Melbourne, FL) 6-4, 6-2
Victoria Flores (4) (Fort Dodge, IA) def. Alexa Noel (Summit, NJ) 6-3, 6-2
Girls’ 16 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Alexandra Belaya (Melbourne, FL) / Emma Decoste (1) (Stuart, FL) def. Elysia Bolton (Lake Forest, IL) / Ann Li (3) (Devon, PA) 4-6, 6-3, 13-11
Jessica Anzo (Temecula, CA) / Jenna Moustafa (8) (Los Angeles, CA) def. Marcella Cruz (Marlboro, NJ) / Alexa Noel (5) (Summit, NJ) 4-6, 6-1, 10-6