Top Seeds Chart Course Toward Finals
Donald Young, the number one seed in the 18s division, managed to stay even with sixth seeded Alex Clayton through the first set, and then put his game in high gear in the tiebreak that decided it. The sixteen-year-old from Georgia began directing his shots at Clayton?s usually reliable one-handed backhand during the tiebreak and found the strategy productive, winning it seven points to one.
Clayton, the 2004 16s finalist, had entered the match with a remarkable streak, having never lost his serve during the recent Clay Court championships and keeping that record intact through four matches this week. But when Young broke him to start the second set, the floodgates opened, and the 17-year-old Floridian failed to hold serve in the second set, which went to Young 6-0.
?It hurt his confidence,? said Young of his first break of Clayton. ?I was happy to get it.? Asked about closing out his last two matches via 6-0 final sets, the slender lefthander searched for an explanation.?
?Maybe I relax more and they press a little.?
Young will face 12th seed Jamie Hunt Saturday. Hunt struggled with 31st seed Brett Helgeson?s lethal backhand before finally scraping out a 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 win.
?People had told me his backhand side was stronger,? said Hunt, a semifinalist in the 16s last year. ?But it took awhile to adjust to it. Plus I was trying to rush and hit a winner too early in the point, so I needed to be more patient.?
Second seed Sam Querrey dropped his first set of the tournament, but rallied for a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win over eighth seed Denis Zivkovic.
Broken twice in the first set, last year?s 16s champion was determined to turn the tide, even though several questionable calls went against him.
?There were a couple of bad ones on the baseline, I thought,? said the easygoing Californian. ?But I?ve had matches where I?ve gotten the calls?.that?ll happen. But it kind of got the crowd into it a little more.?
At 4-5, Zivkovic saved three set points with some clutch serving, but Querrey won eight of the next nine points to take the set, breaking Zivkovic at love.
And with a 2-0 lead, Querrey hit a stab volley that had jaws dropping all over Stowe Stadium.
?That was the greatest shot I?ve ever hit,? said the modest seventeen-year-old.
A deflated Zivkovic, who saw a sure winner zing by him, soon was down 0-4 and 1-5, but Querrey had a few hiccups before he finally closed out the match with a forehand winner. ?I wasn?t going to lose my serve three times in a row,? said the six-foot five-inch righthander.
Querrey?s opponent on Saturday will be Jesse Levine, the fifth seed, who upset fourth seed and Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-2.
Smyczek?s Wimbledon run had included a quarterfinal straight set win over Levine, but the slight lefthander turned the tables on Stowe?s Court One on Friday.
?I don?t think I played my best at Wimbledon,? said Levine, who trains at the IMG/Bollietteri Academy. ?I was ready today, and I had a better game plan.?
Querrey and Levine most recently met in the semifinals of an ITF event in California in April, and Querrey won 6-4, 6-4.
?Sam?s a tough competitor,? said Levine. ?I?ll have to play well.?
In addition to singles, Levine will team with Michael Shabaz, to play for the 18 doubles title. The top seeds defeated Sasha Ermakov and Conor Pollock, the 10th seeds 6-2, 7-5.
They will face Mykyta Kryvonos and Zivkovic, the 4th seeds, who defeated the 8th seeded team of Dylan Arnould and Jamie Hunt, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5.
Stowe?s first action on Friday was the completion of the two 16s quarterfinals matches begun on Thursday. Top seed Dennis Lajola, leading 1-0 in the third when the match resumed, got off to a very fast start and was up 5-0 on sixth seed Dennis Nevolo. But the feisty 15-year-old from Illinois was not capitulating and at 5-3 Lajola served again for the match. But even with a comfortable 40-0 lead, Lajola was wary.
?I knew going in he was a fighter,? said the 16-year-old Hawaiian. ?He wasn?t going to give up.?
And it was 40-30, with Nevolo having saved his third and fourth match points, before Lajola finally could relax.
Lajola will face an old nemesis in Steve Forman, whom he defeated 7-5 in the third in the consolation draw in Kalamazoo last year.
?He?s a great player,? said Lajola of the big Southern Californian. ?Very tricky.?
The third seeded Forman expressed relief that his match against 32nd seed Ryan Lissner ended quickly, with Forman winning all three games played Friday in less than fifteen minutes.
He also was delighted to have achieved his goal of avoiding the notoriously gruelling backdraw of a USTA National junior championship.
?It seemed like I was always losing in the quarterfinals,? said Forman. ?It?s great not to have to deal with that now.?
Second seed Wil Spencer had no difficulty with 19th seed Andy Magee, defeating him 6-3, 6-1, and after several close early matches the Floridian sees his play improving. ?I wasn?t feeling all that great before, but I?m starting to feel more in the groove,? Spencer said. ?Also, I?m starting to relax, I guess.?
Fourth seed Mateusz Kecki was unable to dent the armor of fifth seed Nate Schnugg and lost his first two sets of the tournament 6-1, 6-3.
?He has such a reputation for fighting,? said Schnugg, who now trains with John Roddick in San Antonio. ?I didn?t want to give him any hope.?
Schnugg, like Spencer, has not dropped a set all week, and though both remember a meeting back in the 14s, each described it as ?a long time ago.?
?He?s been playing well and I?m starting to play well,? said Spencer. ?It should be a good match.
Schnugg and Lajola have other important business on Saturday, when they will play Johnny Hamui and Tyler Hochwalt for the 16 doubles title. Schnugg and Lajola, seeded one, earned their finals berth with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Forman and Steve Johnson, the third seeds.
Hamui and Hochwalt, seeded second, downed Brennan Boyajian and Zach Hunter 7-6 (4), 7-5.
Singles matches begin on Saturday with the 16s semifinals contests. The 18s semifinals will follow, as well both division?s doubles championship matches.
Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)