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Monday, October 16, 2017

Grade A Osaka Cup Underway in Japan; Americans Claim ITF Titles in South America and Caribbean

The main draw of ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan begins Tuesday (tonight here in the US) with three American girls and two American boys competing.  Pan American Closed champion Whitney Osuigwe, who is, of course, the No. 1 seed as the top-ranked ITF junior, had little time to overcome jet lag after leaving Tulsa on Sunday and arriving in Japan on Monday.  The other US girls in the draw are Dalayna Hewitt and Hina Inoue, both unseeded.  The top seed in the boys draw is Yuta Shimizu of Japan, with unseeded Tristan Boyer and Anuj Watane the two Americans in the 64-player draw.

In addition to the Grade B1 Pan American Closed last week, there were many other lower-level events, and while most Americans entered Tulsa, some found success elsewhere on the circuit.


At the Grade 5 in Curacao, 15-year-old Jennifer Kida claimed both the singles and doubles titles, losing just six games in her four singles victories. Kida, the top seed, defeated No. 6 seed Afrika Smith of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1 for her second ITF junior title.  Although she has only been playing the ITF Junior Circuit since March, she earned her first title the day before, when She and Fiorella Bolona Medina, the No. 1 seeds, defeated the home country's team of Zima Gomez Osorio and Ana Sofia Jaramillo 6-1, 6-3 in the doubles final.

American juniors took three of the four titles at the Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, with 16-year-old Gia Cohen and 15-year-old Andrew Dale claiming the singles championships and Kyra Foster winning the girls doubles.  The seventh-seeded Cohen, who had lost in the final of the previous week's Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, won her first title with a 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-4 win over 15-year-old American Jackeline Lopez, the No. 4 seed.  Dale took his first ITF junior circuit title, with the No. 10 seed beating No. 8 seed Mateo Gomez of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Foster and Cora Barber of Germany, the No. 7 seeds, won the doubles title with a 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 win over No. 4 seeds Isabella Perez of Venezuela and Eva Tasdemir of Turkey.

Fifteen-year-old Jaedan Brown won her second straight title this week at a Grade 4 in Brazil. Two weeks ago, after receiving a wild card into qualifying, Brown won her first ITF title without dropping a set. Last week, after earning entry via a special exemption, she again blitzed through the draw without dropping a set, beating top seed Nathalia Wolf Gasparin of Brazil 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Brown's only previous match in the  ITF Junior Circuit main draw (before these last two tournaments in Brazil) was a second round loss at the Grade 4 in Newport Beach California.

At the Grade 2 in Chile, Kacie Harvey won the doubles title, with partner Ana Makatsaria of Georgia.  The No. 5 seeds defeated No. 4 seeds Marina Figueiredo of Brazil and Jimar Gerald Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

USTA National 14s champion Saud Alhogbani, who lives in Virginia and trains in College Park Maryland but plays under the flag of Saudi Arabia, won his first ITF junior title last week at the Grade 5 in Kuwait.  The unseeded 14-year-old defeated top seed Viktor Jovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals and qualifier Raphael Collignon of Belgium 7-5, 6-1 in the final.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Americans McDonald, Kwiatkowski and Townsend Win Pro Circuit Titles; Small College Champions Crowned at Oracle Cup

2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald won the first Challenger of his career today at the $100,0000 ATP tournament in Fairfield California, defeating 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn 6-4 6-2.  The 22-year-old from Piedmont California, which is less than an hour away from Fairfield, had been a regular at the quarterfinals and semifinal stages of Challengers since (and even before) leaving UCLA after his junior year last spring.  But this was his first final, capping an impressive week that saw him defeat No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov in the first round and No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.  Klahn, who has been ranked as high as 63 before injuries set him back, is also displaying excellent form, making his second consecutive final at $100,000 Challengers this week.  McDonald will move past his previous career high of 196 to around 164.

David O'Hare of Ireland, who competed in college at Memphis, won the doubles title with Great Britain's Luke Bambridge.  The No. 2 seeds beat the wild card team of  Akram El Sallaly of Egypt and Bernardo Oliveira of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in the final. El Sallaly and Oliveira are members of the University of the Pacific men's team.


At the $25,000 Futures tournament in Houston, 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski claimed his second career Futures title, beating 17-year-old Sebastian Korda 6-2, 6-2 in another final between unseeded players.  Kwiatkowski, who graduated from Virginia this spring, won his first title late last year in Puerto Rico, but hadn't gotten past the quarterfinals in any event this year.  This week the 22-year-old from North Carolina didn't lose a set and took out three seeds, including top seed Austin Krajicek in the semifinals.  Korda reached his first Futures final with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 2 seed Lucas Miedler of Austria. His best showing at a Futures until this week was a quarterfinal back in January.

The unseeded team of Dennis Nevolo and Aron Hiltzik, former and current University of Illinois standouts, won the doubles title, beating top seeds Kwiatkowski and Krajicek 7-6(3), 6-3. It's the first Pro Circuit title for Hiltzik, a senior at Illinois.

Unlike the men's USTA Pro Circuit events, the women's final at the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina featured two seeded players, with top seed Taylor Townsend taking the title.  Townsend, who didn't lose a set all week, defeated No. 7 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-1, 6-2 in the singles final today. Townsend also won the doubles title Saturday, with Jessica Pegula. The unseeded pair beat top seeds Alexandra Mueller and Caitlin Whoriskey 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 in the final. It's Townsend's 13th career doubles title on the Pro Circuit, but her first this year.

The Oracle Cup, the ITA's National Championships for the Small Colleges, concluded today in Rome Georgia with the doubles playoffs.
Yesterday the singles champions were decided for Junior College, NAIA, Division II and Division III, with all eight winners receiving entry into next month's National Fall Championships in Indian Wells.  Previously, only the playoff winner, decided in a competition between the four champions, would advance to the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, but now that the tournament is a 64 draw, not 32, all four singles champions will earn a spot in the draw.  The doubles champions did have a playoff, with only one men's and one women's team receiving entry into the Fall Championships.  Those teams were decided today, with NAIA Georgia Gwinnett's Kevin Konfederak and Gilad Berman winning the men's overall doubles title and Division III's Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu of Wesleyan taking the women's overall doubles title.

The singles champions who will advance to Indian Wells:

MEN:
NAIA: Kevin Konfederak, Georgia Gwinnett
Division II: Kiranpal Pannu, Columbus State
Division III: Mohanad Al Houni, Gustavus Adolphus
Junior College: Marcus Walters, Tyler JC

WOMEN:
NAIA: Camille Gbaguidi, Savannah College of Art and Design
Division II: Sonja Larsen, Barry
Division III: Eudice Chong, Wesleyan
Junior College: Tamara Arnold, Tyler JC

The ITA's recap of Saturday's singles finals is available here.  The recap of the doubles playoffs is here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Top Seeds Osuigwe and Fenty Claim ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed Championships

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Tulsa, OK--

Whitney Osuigwe and Andrew Fenty arrived at ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed as the top seeds. Saturday, they left the University of Tulsa's Michael Case Tennis Center with the winners' trophies after earning straight-sets wins in the finals.

On a warm and increasingly breezy morning, Osuigwe defeated No. 3 seed Natasha Subhash 6-4, 6-3, just a few minutes before Fenty completed his 6-2, 7-5 victory over unseeded Emilio Nava.

Osuigwe started out quickly against Subhash, taking a 5-1 lead in the first set, holding serve easily, while Subhash lost consecutive two four-deuce games on her serve.

"I think I just started a little bit slow," said Subhash, who didn't think nerves played a role in her lackluster start.  "But once I got used to it, I picked it up a little more."

After getting three easy holds to take the 5-1 lead, Osuigwe served for the set twice, but didn't get to set point either time.  Both girls were not pleased with the chair umpire's calls throughout the first set, and Osuigwe seemed to lose patience serving at 5-3, particularly when what she thought were good first serves were called out.

But Subhash was unable to get a hold serving at 4-5, with Osuigwe breaking at love to take the 52-minute first set.

"I think I let my emotions get to me when I felt the ref made a couple of bad calls," Osuigwe said. "She started playing better, and everything rolled over, but I kept trying to keep my focus and it wound up working for me at 5-4. I broke her earlier in the set, and I was coming close almost every single time on her serve, so I knew I just had to take care of the important points."

Subhash rebounded quickly from the poor game that ended the first set, breaking Osuigwe for a 2-1 lead, then holding for 3-1. Given her previous success in breaking Subhash however, Osuigwe wasn't too concerned about that deficit.

"I was only down a break, so all I had to do was keep holding my serve and just break her once," said Osuigwe, who got the break back and held for a 4-3 lead.

Subhash came back from 0-30 down serving at 3-4, but double faulted at 30-all to give Osuigwe a chance to break, and a Subhash backhand error gave Osuigwe the game.

"I think I backed off a little," Subhash said of her performance in the final few games of her first Grade 1 final. "She raised her level, so it was both probably."

Unlike the first set, Osuigwe finished off the second set and match without any further complications, a victory that will return her to the No. 1 position in the ITF World Junior rankings, a position she occupied for just one week this summer.

"I'm playing a couple more tournaments, so hopefully I can get ahead by more, but I think I should be there for a little bit longer this time," said Osuigwe, who didn't lose more than four games in any set all week.

The next two weeks are important for Osuigwe's goal of finishing the year as the ITF World Junior Champion.  She plays the Grade A in Osaka Japan and the ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu China, with an opportunity to extend her lead in the rankings, which will determine her schedule the rest of the year.

Osuigwe acknowledges that making her goal public could add to the pressure to the year's final tournaments, but she doesn't dwell on that aspect of it.

"I'm a pretty free player, I'd say," said the 15-year-old IMG Academy student, who won the French Open girls title this year. "Obviously it's in the back of my mind, and I just try and forget about it while I'm playing."

Fenty's win over Nava provided a different narrative from his previous two matches, where he dropped the first set and was down a break in the second before securing those victories.

At 2-2 in the first set, Fenty got a break, then got a second, as Nava had difficulty keeping his shots in the court. Up 5-2, Fenty was down 0-40 serving for the set, but he saved those three break points and one other before closing out his first set point with a good first serve.

"In the first set I was missing a little too much," said Nava, a 15-year-old playing in his first ITF Grade 1 tournament. "I should have made just one more extra ball then."

Having never played Nava before, Fenty wasn't sure whether Nava's unforced errors would continue.

"I was really confused," said Fenty. "They were simple misses, and I didn't know if he was like, tight and then he would start making it, that he was tight, but that he would heat up.  But I just got really comfortable, too comfortable."

In the second set, Fenty went up a break twice in the early going but gave both breaks back. He broke for a third time to take a 4-3 lead and held easily for 5-3, but in the next game, Fenty admitted he let his mind drift to victory.

"I made a mistake," admitted the 17-year-old from Washington D.C. "It was 6-2, 5-3, 30-0 and I literally started thinking about the win."

Nava brought it back to 30-all, but a forehand winner from Fenty brought about the first match point. Nava saved that with several strong forehands that led to a backhand winner, but he missed a backhand volley on the next point to give Fenty another match point. Nava saved that when Fenty's return went long, and he won the next two points to force Fenty to serve out the match at 5-4.

With a double fault to start the game, Fenty couldn't get back on track. Nava forced an error for 15-40 and then hit a backhand volley winner to bring himself back even. Serving at 5-5, Nava had three game points in the four-deuce game, but Fenty's defense wore him down, with Fenty breaking on his second opportunity.

"I had a chance to hold at 5-all, a couple of game points, but he played some great defense," Nava said. "I was inside the court and he was just back there making balls in and I got a little too crazy, went for shots, when I should have just kept moving him around. But he's a great player, a great defender, a great offensive player too--strong, with great weapons."

Fenty had played well when he was down in his earlier matches, and he admitted that he got that back-to-the-wall feeling in the 5-all game, but he knew the outcome of the match was up to him.

"He was playing the same way, though he played better at the end a little bit, but still, everything that happened was my fault," Fenty said. "The match was in my hands."

Serving for the match a second time, Fenty served well, closing it out on a good first serve to secure his first Grade 1 title, a relief rather than a triumph in his view.

"I haven't played my best tennis all week," Fenty said. "I've just been super tight, super nervous. I don't really like the courts and the conditions, but I can't complain. I just won."

Fenty is returning to his base at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park Maryland before next month's Grade A and Grade 1 in Mexico.


After a short rest period, Fenty was back on the court for the boys doubles title, but he and partner William Woodall fell short in the championship match.  The number two seeds fell 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 to top seeds Govind Nanda and Trey Hilderbrand, who were playing together for the first time.

Hilderbrand has an ab injury, which forced him to serve underhand throughout the match.

"I got worse throughout the week," said Hilderbrand, who lost in the opening round of singles as the No. 2 seed. "As the week went on, it got pretty bad, but somehow, we were able to win."

"I think we just fought," said Nanda. "I think we believed in ourselves throughout the whole tournament."

"We competed the whole tournament," said Hilderbrand, a 17-year-old from San Antonio. "Got through three 10-point busters and somehow did it."

Up 5-1 at the first changeover of the match tiebreaker, Nanda and Hilderbrand had to withstand Fenty and Woodall's comeback, which saw them win five of the next six points to make it 6-6. With Fenty serving at 8-8, Nanda was able to put away short ball off a second serve and Nanda converted the first match point on his serve, with a forehand forcing an error.

"We both like coming in and we both like returning, and playing aggressive at the net;  I think that's what helped us." said Nanda, a 16-year-old from Cerritos California.  "It's a good combo," said Hilderbrand, who plans to take the next few weeks off to get healthy.

Nanda will play Futures tournaments in Florida next month, with the pair planning to reunite at the Orange Bowl in December.


Girls doubles champions Peyton Stearns and Nicole Mossmer were also taking the court together as a team for the first time, but the No. 4 seeds looked extremely comfortable in their 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 3 seeds Hailey Baptiste and Sabina Dadaciu.  At least they looked comfortable after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the first set.

"I whiffed an overhead in the first game, so I was like, oh my god, this might not go very well," said Mossmer, a 17-year-old from La Jolla California. "But then I started playing really well at the net, and Peyton was feeling her forehand, ripping the ball, so it worked out well."

Stearns and Mossmer trailed 16s National Champions Angelica Blake and Nikki Redeljik 6-4, 3-0 in the quarterfinals before rebounding for a 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 victory.

"On the bench, we were just like, let's just play, let's play tennis," said Stearns, a 16-year-old from Mason Ohio, of that turnaround. "We came back, and we gained some confidence and that really helped our game there."

Stearns, who ended up with Mossmer after her original partner withdrew, believes their contrasting styles provide them with an advantage.

"Our games mix really well because we have two different kind of balls," Stearns said. "I feel like that's really hard for the other players to get a rhythm off of."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Osuigwe and Subhash Reach Grade B1 Pan American Closed Final; Fenty and Nava in Boys Championship Match

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Tulsa, OK--


Unseeded Emilio Nava lost in the second round of the ITF Grade 4 in Corpus Christi last week, but the 15-year-old has found his form this week, winning five consecutive matches in straight sets at the Grade B1 Pan American Closed to reach Saturday's final.

Nava defeated Corpus Christi champion Jaycer Lyeons 6-2, 6-3 in Friday's semifinal, ending Lyeons' winning streak at 10, to set up his first meeting with top seed Andrew Fenty, who advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 4-0, ret. win over No. 3 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic.

Nava, competing in his first ITF Junior Circuit tournament at the Grade 1 level, was down 3-1 in the second set before winning the final five games on an unseasonably warm day at the Michael Case Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tulsa.

"When I got broken, I was like, ok, it's fine, just keep fighting, you'll get your chance," Nava said. "And that's what happened. I just stayed strong, stayed focused and I broke him back in the very next game. When I held at 2-3, I saw that he got a little down on himself, and I just built off that, and I finished off the match strong."

Nava knows his ability to stay upbeat when facing adversity can demoralize his opponents.

"When they see that you're super positive and you're right there fighting, and you're never giving up, you can see them getting negative and then you just build on that," said the Woodland Hills California resident. "You can see them getting down and it feels really good, I love it."

Nava admits that after Corpus Christi, he didn't expect this kind of run.

"I wasn't really sure where my game was," Nava said. "My coach just told me to just make a lot of balls, stay in there with them. But I'm pretty surprised.  I'm playing pretty well though, so tomorrow will be a big day."


For the second straight day, Fenty found himself down a set and a break, but his mantra of just needing to hit more balls again brought him back.

"I have a lot of confidence in my game that I can turn things around," said the 17-year-old from Washington D.C. "I'm confident I'm in way better shape than my opponents. I knew for a fact, the longer the match was, the better for me. I told myself all you need is more hitting, more time, and the third set, it was five minutes."

Fenty began his comeback with Hardt serving at 3-2 in the second. Hardt saved one break point with a good first serve, but Fenty hit a tricky forehand volley winner on the second to get the break back. After a routine hold for 4-3, Fenty broke again, then saved a beak point serving for the set with a wide-kicking ace.  On his first set point, Fenty executed another difficult volley, this time on the backhand side, to take the set and the momentum.

He broke Hardt at love, as the 17-year-old Dominican's forehand began to break down, with his errors ending most of the longer rallies.  Another break and hold made it 4-0, and when Hardt went down 15-40 serving at 0-4, he walked to the net while announcing to the umpire that he was injured.

"He just left," said Fenty. "He wasn't going to win, but it does bother me a little bit. My coach tells me not to worry about it, but I don't think that's very good sportsmanship."

Fenty is also playing in his first Grade 1 final, but he has much more experience at the higher levels of the ITF Junior Circuit than Nava.

"I'm just going to play my game," Fenty said. "Maybe not get off to a slow start, but if I do, I'm prepared for everything. It's a final. You better enjoy being in a final."


A third player will be making a Grade 1 final debut with No. 3 seed Natasha Subhash earning her first trip with a 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 14 seed Marlee Zein.  Subhash had back-to-back three-setters in the third round and quarterfinals, but she found her form against Abigail Forbes in the second and third sets on Thursday, winning 12 of the match's last 13 games.

"I think I've been playing overall pretty good," said the 16-year-old from Washington D.C. "Today I probably played my best, and I'm playing consistently better each match."

Subhash won the first nine games against Zein, who couldn't find any rhythm, with unforced errors preventing her from getting any momentum. Zein had come from a set down in her quarterfinal win over Niluka Madurawe, but Subhash gave her nothing to work with Friday.

"I kept the ball in the court," Subhash said. "I started strong and I was consistent for the entire match. She didn't really play her best."



Subhash will take on top seed Whitney Osuigwe in the final, after Osuigwe defeated No. 10 seed Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2.

Osuigwe had beaten Bilokin 6-1, 6-4 last month in the first round of the US Open Junior Championships, so she was prepared for this contest between IMG Academy students.

"I feel like I knew her game better, I knew what she was going to do," the 15-year-old Floridian said. "Second set at the Open, I struggled a little bit because I lost my focus, but here, I kept my focus the entire time."

Osuigwe broke to open the first set and got a second break to give her the chance to serve it out. She had to save three break points in that eighth game, but served well when she needed to and converted her second set point.

Bilokin surrendered a break at 2-2 in the second set, and Osuigwe had all the margin she needed, closing out the match by taking the last four games.

Osuigwe and Subhash haven't played on the ITF Junior Circuit, with their most recent meeting in the semifinals of the 2015 USTA National 16s Championships in San Diego, with Osuigwe winning in three sets.

"She played the Junior Fed Cup qualifier, so we got to spend some time together there, as a team," Osuigwe said. "I haven't played her in a while. I don't know much about her; I know she has a good serve and is an aggressive baseliner."

"She hits the ball big," Subhash said when asked what she knew about Osuigwe's game. "She serves big, her ground strokes are big, so I think I just have to be consistent and keep the ball deep, don't let her attack it."

The doubles finals are scheduled for Saturday after the singles final, with Fenty the only singles finalist appearing in both.  He and partner William Woodall, the No. 2 seeds, received a walkover into the final. They will play top seeds Trey Hilderbrand and Govind Nanda, who beat No. 3 seeds Drew Baird and Brian Shi 7-6(5), 1-6, 10-8. 

The girls doubles final will feature No. 4 seeds Nicole Mossmer and Peyton Stearns and No. 3 seeds Hailey Baptiste and Sabina Dadaciu.  Mossmer and Stearns defeated No. 8 seeds Ariana Arseneault and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada 6-0, 6-2, while Baptiste and Dadaciu took out No. 1 seeds Subhash and Lea Ma 7-5, 7-6(4).  Subhash was going for her third straight doubles final in Tulsa, having won the title in 2015 and finishing as runner-up last year, both times with Ann Li as her partner.

My Interview with Chicago's Jay Tee on Division III Recruiting; Korda into Houston Futures Quarterfinals; Brady Reaches WTA Hong Kong Semis


Before the start of the semifinals of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed today, I wanted to post a brief update on what's going on in college and junior tennis away from Tulsa.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has begun its annual Countdown to Signing Week, and my contribution this week is a conversation I had with University of Chicago men's and women's coach Jay Tee about the Division III recruiting process. I learned a lot from that interview, and I hope those interested in what Division III can offer a top junior player check it out.

Sebastian Korda could have played the Pan American Closed this week, but instead, the 17-year-old received a wild card into the $25,000 Futures in Houston, where he has reached the quarterfinals.  Korda defeated No. 4 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan in the first round and took out Argentina's Alan Kohen, a qualifier, yesterday.  He plays former Northwestern standout Samuel Shropshire, a qualifier, today. Chris Eubanks, Thai Kwiatkowski and top seed Austin Krajicek are the other Americans through to the quarterfinals.

The USTA Women's Pro Circuit is in Sumter South Carolina, with top seed Taylor Townsend and qualifier Jessica Pegula, who play each other today, the only Americans remaining in the $25,000 tournament's quarterfinals.

The $100,000 Fairfield California ATP Challenger this week has been impacted by the deadly wildfires in the area, but has managed to stay on schedule, with the quarterfinals today.  Bradley Klahn, Bjorn Fratangelo[3], Mackenzie McDonald and Tennys Sandgren[2] are the Americans in the final eight, with McDonald and Sandgren meeting today.

Former UCLA star Jennifer Brady is through to her first WTA International semifinal in Hong Kong after beating Nicole Gibbs 7-5, 6-4.  Brady will face No. 7 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia next.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed Semifinals Feature Top Seeds Osuigwe and Fenty

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Tulsa, OK--

To most observers, top seed Andrew Fenty's chances of advancing to the semifinals of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed appeared bleak after he dropped the first set to No. 10 seed Govind Nanda 6-0 and was broken to go down 2-1 in the second set.  Fenty, however, had a different view of his situation.

"I've played a lot of matches where I've had a horrific first set," said Fenty, who went on to post a 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on a warm and sunny day at the Michael Case Tennis Center. "I knew it was going to be a different second. You just have to find yourself and just play. I just needed to play more points. The more you play, you figure it out."

After Fenty took the second set, he and Nanda had completed two sets in 70 minutes, but in the third set, the pace of play slowed considerably, as the points got longer and deuce games were commonplace.

"In the first set, I felt like he was playing really fast," said the 17-year-old from Washington DC. "I thought it was going to be long points, and he came out playing super fast, rushing the net and stuff. It caught me off guard."

Fenty went up 3-1 in the third set, but Nanda came back, winning the next three games. Fenty faced a break point serving at 3-4, but he saved it with a dipping crosscourt forehand pass that Nanda could only watch angle away from him.

"That was a good one, it was whipped, and cut," said Fenty, who had to be reminded of the importance of that particular shot. "But if you didn't tell me that, I wouldn't have thought of it. But that was actually a huge point, he would have been up 5-3. "

Nanda was broken in the next game, with Fenty hitting a backhand winner from down on one knee to go up 15-40, then chipping and charging to force an error from Nanda to get the break.  The final game was as tense as most of the others in the third set, with Fenty netting a backhand at 40-30.  But a good drop shot gave him a second match point, and he converted with a forehand deep in the corner forcing an error from Nanda.

"I was playing the more aggressive tennis," said Fenty, who lost to Nanda in a Grade 3 final last year. "I always felt, in the third set, that I was dictating points. That's where he might have made the mistake."

In Friday's semifinals, Fenty will face No. 3 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic, who defeated No. 5 seed Axel Nefve 7-6(6), 6-2.

The other boys semifinals will feature Jaycer Lyeons and Emilio Nava.  Lyeons came back to beat Noah Schachter 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 and Nava ended the run of 14-year-old Aidan Mayo 6-3, 6-1. Lyeons, whose winning streak is up to 10 after last week's title at the Grade 4 in Corpus Christi, defeated Nava last year in the quarterfinals of the Grade 5 in Austin.


Girls top seed Whitney Osuigwe faced her toughest test against No. 9 seed Katie Volynets, but came through with a 6-1, 6-4 victory. Osuigwe, who beat Volynets in three sets at the Easter Bowl and in two tight sets at the Nationals in San Diego this year, changed her strategy in Thursday's match.

"I wasn't as defensive as I usually am with her, given that she's a counterpuncher," Osuigwe said. "I just tried to step in for my shots. I knew I was going to spray some, but in the end it paid off."

After going down a break midway through the second set, Volynets got it back to pull even at 4, only to lose her next service game. Osuigwe was able to close out the match in the next game, with Volynets making several costly errors in those final two games.

Osuigwe's opponent in the semifinals is No. 10 seed Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine.  Bilokin, down 4-1 in the first set, beat 14-year-old Alexandra Yepifanova 7-6(4), 6-2, with that first set taking over an hour and 15 minutes to complete.

"She trains at IMG as well," said Osuigwe, who beat Bilokin 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open Junior Championships last month. "We've practiced together a few times, but I haven't been there the same time as she has, so not recently. But she's a fighter."

Osuigwe is headed to Osaka Japan for next week's Grade A and will play the ITF Junior Masters in China the following week, which explains why she is not playing doubles this week in Tulsa. 

"I have two more tournaments ahead of me, so I just wanted to rest," said the 15-year-old French Open girls champion, who has her sights set on the year-end No. 1 ranking.

The two semifinalists from the bottom half had to fight back from a set down to advance.  No. 3 seed Natasha Subhash defeated unseeded Abigail Forbes 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 and will face No. 14 seed Marlee Zein, who beat No. 12 seed Niluka Madurawe 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Subhash has also reached the doubles semifinals, with partner Lea Ma. The top seeds defeated No. 5 seeds Chloe Beck and Bilokin 7-6(3), 6-3 and will face No. 3 seeds Hailey Baptiste and Sabina Dadaciu. Baptiste and Dadaciu took out No. 7 seeds Sanyukta Gawande and Tara Malik 6-2, 6-2. 

The other girls doubles semifinal has No. 4 seeds Nicole Mossmer and Peyton Stearns against No. 8 seeds Ariana Arseneault and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada.  Mossmer and Stearns defeated USTA National 16s doubles champions Angelica Blake and Nikki Redelijk 4-6, 7-5, 10-4 and Arseneault and Vagramov beat No. 2 seeds Hurricane Tyra Black and Elli Mandlik 7-5, 4-6, 11-9.

One finalist is already known in the boys doubles, with Fenty and William Woodall, the No. 2 seeds, getting a walkover into the championship match.  No. 5 seeds Hardt and Brandon Perez of Venezuela beat No. 4 seeds Keenan Mayo and Axel Nefve 6-7(6), 6-3, 10-8, but Perez withdrew after the match, citing injury.  Fenty and Woodall defeated No. 7 seeds Nathan Han and Pierce Rollins 3-6, 6-2, 10-7 in the quarterfinals.

The other doubles semifinal will feature top seeds Trey Hilderbrand and Nanda, who beat unseeded Alex Lee and Marcus McDaniel 6-3, 5-7, 10-6, and No. 3 seeds Drew Baird and Brian Shi, who defeated No. 6 seeds Will Grant and Tyler Zink 6-4, 6-1.