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Friday, April 6, 2018

Baptiste, Zink Advance to Semifinals at ITF G1 International Spring Championships; 16s Singles Finals Set for Saturday, Doubles Champions Crowned

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Carson, CA--

Top girls seed Margaryta Bilokin and No. 2 boys seed Tristan Boyer both needed three sets earn quarterfinal victories at the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships, but the No. 2 seed in the girls draw did not survive, with No. 7 seed Hailey Baptiste defeating Natasha Subhash 6-2, 6-2.  No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty also was eliminated, with No. 8 seed Tyler Zink earning a 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal victory.


Baptiste and Subhash, both 16, had not played before on the ITF Junior Circuit, but with both living in the Washington DC area, they met in USTA sectional events, with Baptiste on the losing end of most of their meetings.

"We've played a few times in lower sectional tournaments and she beat me all the time," said Baptiste. "I remember one time, I had a breakthrough match and I beat her; that was the last time I played her. But I've trained with her with the past few months, so I know her game pretty well."

Baptiste kept the pressure on Subhash, which she knew was key.

"I knew she wasn't going to make a lot of errors, so I just tried to keep a lot of balls in the court, but take my opportunities to be aggressive whenever I could and that worked out really well for me," Baptiste said.

Baptiste will face No. 5 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland, who ended the run of 13-year-old wild card Robin Montgomery with a 6-2, 6-4 win. The two have never met.

"She's been at some of the same tournaments as me, but I haven't really watched any of her matches," Baptiste said.

Top seed Bilokin was sailing along in her quarterfinal match with No. 10 seed Vanessa Ong, leading 6-2, 2-0 when Ong stepped up her level, winning seven straight games to take a 1-0 lead in the third set.

"When I was up 2-0, she had a really good game after that, won the game I think 40-0," said the 17-year-old Ukrainian, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "After that, I feel like she got more confidence and I just wasn't aggressive. She wasn't missing, attacking and stepping in, hitting big forehands, and I was really far behind the baseline, just not playing my game."

Ong broke Bilokin for a 3-1 lead and held for 4-1, but Bilokin cleaned up her game and began to take control of the points.  After breaking Ong in the seventh game, Bilokin held at love to make it 4-4.  Ong had a game point in the next game but missed a forehand long and Bilokin won the next two points for the game and a chance to serve it out. At 30-all, Ong missed a forehand wide and Bilokin converted her first match point when Ong's return went long.

"I tried to stay focused, not let her play her forehand, hit more to the backhand, be more consistent," Bilokin said of the tactics that allowed her to win five games in a row. "It worked."

Bilokin will face No. 13 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, who defeated unseeded Kylie Collins 7-6(4), 6-2.  Black and Bilokin played last year in the second round of a Grade 1 in Germany, with Bilokin winning 6-4, 6-4.

"She's a really good player, she likes to slice a lot," said Bilokin, who reached the Orange Bowl final last December. "She has a lot of variety in her game. But I'll just play my game and see what happens."


Zink is celebrating his verbal commitment to Georgia, which he made last weekend, with his best performance in a Grade 1 event this week. After two quarterfinals earlier this year, Zink advanced to his first semifinal with a comprehensive win over Fenty.

"I'm playing pretty confident, really going after my shots, which is really helping me a lot this week," said the 17-year-old, who will be joining the Bulldogs in 2019. "Hopefully I can keep it going."

Zink said his ability to play the first point well helped him defeat Fenty.

"I served and returned really well and I thought that was really big for today," said Zink, who got the only break in the first set with Fenty serving at 3-4. "I served well at key moments, a lot of 30-alls in the first set, and just stayed strong."

Fenty called for a trainer during the match and later withdrew from the doubles semifinals with an unspecified injury.

Zink will face Boyer, who won his fourth consecutive three-setter, beating unseeded Jake Sands 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Boyer led 3-1 in the second set, but Sands brought it back to even at 3, then held in a five-deuce game, saving a break point at 4-all.  Boyer then played a terrible game to lose his serve at love, assuring yet another three-set battle, with Sands re-energized in those last two games.

Each player complained about the other's behavior, with Boyer lobbying for a point penalty for Sands for racquet abuse, and Sands unhappy with Boyer's come ons being directly in his face. Sands had already received a warning for a very audible obscenity in the first set and Boyer received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third, with the verbal sniping continuing throughout the third set, which began with three straight breaks of serve.

Boyer held in the fourth game and managed to keep that lead, but serving at 4-3, he had to come back from 15-40 to stay in front.

Sands went down 0-40 in the next game, but a winner and two Boyer errors brought it back to deuce. After a lengthy rally of deep ground strokes, Sands made a forehand error to give Boyer a fourth match point, which he converted when Sands backhand went wide, ending the tense three-hour contest.

The players shook hands but the conversation continued, with the chair umpire stepping in to discourage any additional interaction.

The other boys semifinal Saturday will be a rematch of the 2017 Easter Bowl and Kalamazoo 16s finals, with Brandon Nakashima, who won both titles, facing Stefan Dostanic again.

Nakashima cruised past Cannon Kingsley 6-0, 6-2 for his fourth consecutive straight-sets win, while Dostanic beat No. 7 seed Govind Nanda 6-3, 7-5.  Dostanic led 4-0 in the second set, but saw his two breaks disappear, the second after he had had two match points at 5-4, 40-15. But after Nanda held for 5-all and Dostanic held for 6-5, Nanda fell behind 15-40 and Dostanic capitalized on match point No. 3 for the victory.

The 18s doubles final will feature Boyer and his partner Eliot Spizzirri, the No. 2 seeds, against No. 5 seeds Emilio Nava and Axel Nefve. Boyer and Spizzirri defeated No. 6 seeds Will Grant and Nakashima 6-4, 7-5, while Nava and Nefve received a walkover from Fenty and Brian Shi, the No. 4 seeds, due to Fenty's injury.

The girls 18s doubles final will be decided by No. 5 seeds Drummy and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada and No. 3 seeds Subhash and Katie Volynets.  Drummy and Vagramov took out No. 2 seeds Baptiste and Peyton Stearns 7-6(3), 6-3, while Subhash and Volynets came from behind for a 5-7, 7-6(5), 13-11 victory over top seeds Bilokin and Elli Mandlik.  The match ended abruptly when Mandlik received a point penalty for racquet abuse after throwing her racquet, with her team having just lost the 11-all point.

The 16s singles finals will be played on Saturday, starting with the girls championship match at 10 a.m.

No. 5 seed Maryam Ahmad will face unseeded Anne Lutkemeyer Obregon after both earned straight-sets victories in Friday's semifinals. Ahmad defeated No. 8 seed Velizara Fileva of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-4, while Lutkemeyer took out No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta-Kynoch of Puerto Rico 6-4, 7-5.

In the boys 16s singles final, No. 3 seed Zachery Lim will face No. 5 seed Max McKennon.  Lim defeated top seed Spencer Brachman 6-3, 6-0 and McKennon, the Easter Bowl 16s finalist, beat unseeded Ishaan Ravichander 6-3, 6-4.


McKennon already has one title secured, winning the 16s doubles Friday afternoon with Hunter Heck.  The top seeds defeated Possawat Akarapan and Phuwish Lee of Thailand, the No. 5 seeds, 6-1, 6-2 in the final.


In the girls 16s doubles final, unseeded Allura and Maribella Zamarripa defeated No. 4 seeds Ahmad and Lina Mohamed 6-2, 6-4 for the championships. The Zamarripa twins won the Easter Bowl 16s doubles titles just six days ago.

Complete results and Saturday's order of play can be found at the tournament website.

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