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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Long First Day at USTA National Spring Team Championships; Emory Women Repeat as Division III Indoor Champions; Woodall Wins Second Straight ITF Grade 4; Baez and Fernandez Claim Grade A Titles in Brazil

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Mobile, AL--

The first day of play at the USTA National Spring Team Championships began at 8 a.m. and finished at 7:30 p.m., with 48 courts at the Mobile Tennis Center busy throughout the day.  Although the weather was ideal for tennis today, and is expected to be good on Monday, the forecast for Tuesday calls for rain, so tournament officials have elected to play it forward while the weather allows.

The girls played one complete match to determine the quarterfinalists, then played another round of singles in the late afternoon, while the boys played their matches to determine quarterfinalists and played a round of doubles under the lights to close out the day's play.

Six of the girls quarterfinal matches finished with a score of 4-3, although with all matches played to conclusion, not all matches with that final score were of the last-match-on variety.  The Red Hawks win over the Tornados, the Stingrays win over the Bengals, the Blue Jays win over the Dolphins and the Angels win over the Firecrackers were all tied at 3-3, as was the one finish that I saw, the Lightning's victory over the Devils.

That match came down to the No. 1 16s singles, with the Devils' Brooke Theis forcing a third set against the Lightning's Leyden Games with all the other matches have been decided in straight sets, including Andrea Cerdan's 7-5, 7-5 win over Fiona Crawley at No. 1 18s singles. Games went up a break at 3-2 in the final set and got an insurance break to make it 5-2, holding in the final game for a three-hour 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

Four of the boys quarterfinals ended with 4-3 scores, but only one, the Eagles win over the Patriots, was decided in the last match on.  As in this year's Super Bowl, the Eagles prevailed, with Alexander Chang getting the victory over Evan Lee at No. 2 14s singles.  Chang took the first set 6-1, Lee countered with the second set at 6-4, and at 3-3 in the third, they knew their match would decide the team result. Chang got a break, then held in a two-deuce game to go up 5-3.  With Lee serving to stay in the match, he double faulted twice to go down 15-40, but saved those two match points and then a third.  But Lee could not get to a game point and on the fourth match point, Chang, who rarely missed in the final few games, clipped the net with a shot. Lee adjusted but was forced to chip the ball defensively and it went wide.

Two girls teams have already advanced to the semifinals, winning four singles points before the doubles scheduled for Monday at 8 a.m. The Diamondbacks, who won their first round match 6-1, won four singles matches to the Blue Jays two to clinch that match, and the Stingrays also won four singles matches from the Sharks to advance to the semifinals regardless of the outcome of their doubles match Monday.  Two matches are tied at 3-3, with the upcoming doubles point determining the winner: the Angels vs the Lightning an the Ninja vs the Red Hawks.

Monday's schedule includes the completion of the girls doubles and the boys quarterfinal singles, followed by the girls semifinals at noon and the boys semifinals at 4 p.m.

At the ITA Women's Division III Team Indoor Championships, top seed Emory repeated as champions with a 5-0 win over No. 2 seed Pomona-Pitzer.  Emory swept the doubles and got wins at No. 2 singles from
Ysabela Gonzales-Rico and No. 1 from Bridget Harding to close out Pomona-Pitzer, who had fallen to the Eagles in last year's final by a 5-4 score.  For the second straight year, both the men's and women's Indoor titles are held by Emory.

William Woodall won his second straight ITF Grade 4 title yesterday in El Salvador, and as with his win the previous week in Guatemala, the 18-year-old University of Virginia recruit needed three sets over a fellow American in the final.  Woodall, the top seed, defeated No. 2 seed Blaise Bicknell 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 for his tenth consecutive ITF junior circuit win.  No. 3 seed Kennedy Bridgforth reached the girls final, falling to top seed Rut Galindo of Guatemala 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. 

At the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil, unseeded 15-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada won the girls title, beating No. 14 seed Clara Tauson of Denmark 6-3, 7-6(4).  Sebastian Baez of Argentina, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 12 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-4 to sweep the boys titles, having won the doubles title with Clement Tabur of France.  No. 2 seeds Baez and Tabur defeated Tyler Zink and Will Grant 6-4, 6-2 in the final.  Tauson did leave Brazil with a title, winning the girls doubles with partner Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia. The No. 8 seeds beat No. 2 seeds Mariam Dalakishvili of Georgia and Ania Hertel of Poland 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 in the final.  

At the $25,000 Futures in Canada, qualifier Strong Kirchheimer came up short in his first career Futures final, losing to No. 6 seed Ugo Humbert of France 6-4, 6-0.

Sara Errani of Italy and Martin Klizan of Slovakia won the Oracle Challenger event in Indian Wells, with qualifier Errani beating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-2 and Klizan defeating Darian King of Barbados 6-3, 6-3.  

Jackson Withrow collected his second consecutive doubles title, this time partnering with Austin Krajicek for 6-7(3), 6-1, 11-9 win over Evan King and Nathan Pasha in Indian Wells. Withrow, the former Texas A&M standout, won the Delray Beach Open last Sunday with Jack Sock.