Champions Collide: Quarterfinal Roundup at Boys 18 & Under Nationals
Lefties dueled on Thursday when 17-year-old Learner Tien faced off against 15-year-old Darwin Blanch in a Boys’ 18 quarterfinal match. In last year’s Junior Nationals tournament Tien took home the 18 & under championship while Blanch won the 16 & under championship. Despite international success in junior majors, Blanch was only seeded sixth in the tournament, and due to an unlucky draw, he faced 1 seed Learner Tien in the quarterfinals.
Tien got off to a hot start with a quick hold and break. However, Blanch bounced back and dominated the rest of the set, winning 6 straight games. Blanch continued his success early in the second set, securing an early break to jump out to a 2-0 lead. However, Tien showed championship poise, breaking back later in the set to tie it at 3-3. Blanch and Tien both fought off multiple break points in their serves throughout the remainder of the set, however, neither was able to secure a critical break. In the turning point of the match, Tien dominated the second set tiebreaker, winning 7-1.
The third set was ultimately a battle of who had the fresher legs. Blanch’s cramps, which began late in the second set, became too much for him. Tien took the set 6-3, out rallying the hobbled Blanch.
Tomorrow Tien will face off against his doubles partner, 5 seed Cooper Williams, in the semifinals of the Boys’ 18 and under national championship. Williams dominated 3 seed Kyle Kang in their quarterfinal matchup 6-3, 6-0.
In the other half of the draw, 10 seed Trevor Svajda won a gutsy three-set match against 16 seed Lucas Brown. After Brown won the first in a tiebreaker after a set of all holds, Svajda took the second by breaking Brown’s serve at 6-5. Svajda controlled the third set, securing a few key breaks to take the final set 6-3.
In the last Boys' 18 and under quarterfinal match, 2 seed Nishesh Basavareddy faced off against 9 seed Roy Horovitz. Basavareddy dominated the first set, only dropping 1 game. In the second, Horovitz stormed out to a 4-1 lead. However, Basavareddy did not back down, tying the set at 4-4. Unfazed, Horovitz took the next two games, including a marathon game to break Basavareddy and close out the set. In the third set, Basavareddy returned to his first set form, winning 6-2. Basavareddy and Svajda will face off tomorrow in a semifinal match.
Source: Quincy Sells