November Aces; Nakashima Signs with Virginia; Nava and Mandlik's Late Surges Earn Eddie Herr ITF Semifinal Berths; Seven Americans Play for Singles Titles in 12s, 14s, 16s Divisions Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2018-- Bradenton, FL--Before I get to all the excitement of today's action at the Eddie Herr International Championships, here is my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, featuring 18 of the top

©Colette Lewis 2018–
Bradenton, FL–

Before I get to all the excitement of today’s action at the Eddie Herr International Championships, here is my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, featuring 18 of the top performances by junior and college players, with junior girls having a particularly good month of November on the ITF Women’s Pro Circuit.

And the University of Virginia announced today that Brandon Nakashima, who recently won the ITF Junior Masters and is No. 5 in the ITF junior rankings, has signed and will join the Cavaliers in January.  Nakashima had not ruled out going to college when I last spoke to him at the US Open, but was expected to stay on the West Coast, with the major Pac-12 powers considered his likely destination.  Nakashima, who has withdrawn from next week’s Orange Bowl, is unlikely to stay for a full four years, but he will certainly add excitement to the ACC conference season in 2019.  For the release, see the Virginia website.

Friday was much warmer than the previous three days in Bradenton, and it was a busy day, with the Grade 1 ITF quarterfinals in singles, the ITF doubles semifinals, and the semifinals in doubles and singles in the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions.

Two Americans have reached the semifinals of the ITF singles, with both Emilio Nava and Elli Mandlik coming from a break down in the final set to earn victories, with Nava beating unseeded Mateus Alves of Brazil 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Mandlik defeating unseeded Alice Tubello of France 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Mandlik, the No. 5 seed, lost her serve at 3-4 in the final set, failing to convert two game points, but she wasn’t worried when Tubello served for the match.

“I wasn’t tight,” said Mandlik, who didn’t play the Grade A in Mexico last week. “I knew she would just brush it in, and I could attack.”

Tubello was broken at love, with Mandlik hitting a return winner for 0-40, which may have contributed to Tubello’s double fault on game point.

Mandlik, who was broken in her previous two service games, held in a deuce game for 5-all, then got another break to take a 6-5 lead, although Tubello had two game points that she failed to convert. Eventually Mandlik’s returns proved the difference in the game and serving for the match, Mandlik was determined to stay aggressive.

“I just didn’t want to regret losing in the quarters,” the 17-year-old said. “So I just went for my shots.”

Tubello came up with a drop shot winner to open the game, but Mandlik took control of the game with her backhand, forcing two errors for 30-15, then hitting a clean down-the-line backhand winner to get to match point. It was an entertaining point, with Tubello making Mandlik work, but Mandlik came up with a backhand volley winner to earn her place in the semifinals.

Mandlik will face No. 6 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, who took out top seed Alexa Noel 7-6(5), 6-3, winning the final four game of the match. Many junior girls find it difficult to cope with Noel’s slicing and defense, but Bartone is not one of them. The 16-year-old Bartone has her own repertoire of slices and drop shots, and accustomed to playing without rhythm, she had no problem counteracting Noel’s preferred game style.

Mandlik and Bartone have never played, but Mandlik knows what to expect.

“Yeah, I know I’m going to have to run a lot,” said Mandlik, mentioning Bartone’s proclivity for drop shots. “So I just get my mind set that I’m going to be running, on the court for a long time, and to be ready for that.”

The other girls semifinal will feature No. 16 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland against No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China. Drummy defeated Yucatan champion and No. 9 seed Diane Parry of France 6-3, 6-3, while Zheng had no trouble with No. 8 Lulu Sun in a 6-2, 6-0 decision.

Mandlik recognized that she barely escaped a loss to Tubello, but for Nava, the circumstances were even more dire.  Down a set and 4-2 in the second, No. 16 seed Nava won the final four games of the set. Down 4-2 in the third set, Nava did it again for an improbable 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

In the second set, Nava took his first lead in the match when he held for 5-4 after breaking at love in the previous game, then broke again when Alves made very few first serves in the next game.

“He got a little tight, at 4-5 in the second and the third,” said Nava, who turns 17 on Sunday. “There were definitely some games when he was a little lacking on the first serve and I was taking advantage of that. This guy is like 6′-6″, huge serve, big forehand, a one-two punch of a guy. I just had to stay with him, fight those returns back.”

Nava appeared to have the momentum when he held to start the third set, but he was broken in the third game, and time was running short when Alves held for 4-2.  But again Nava got a break at love, with Alves serving at 4-3, and held at love in the next game, at one stage winning 11 consecutive points.  After falling behind 0-30 serving at 4-5, Alves found his first serve and won the next two points, but he netted a forehand to give Nava a match point. Again, Alves’ big serve saved him, but Nava earned a second match point with an excellent backhand deep into the corner that forced an error from Alves. Alves made a good first serve, but Nava’s return was equal to it and another big backhand forced an error, putting Nava in the semifinals.

On Saturday, Nava will play another Brazilian, qualifier Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida, who beat No. 7 seed Valentin Royer of France 6-3 6-2. Nava has not played Pucinelli de Almeida before, but believes his game style is more like that of top seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, who Nava beat on Thursday.

“He’s a good player, but not like the guy today,” Nava said.  “More like Adrian, a grinder.”

The semifinal in the bottom half will feature No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia and No. 3 seed Filip Jianu of Romania. Mejia defeated No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain 7-6(8), 6-2, while Jianu advanced when unseeded Zane Khan retired trailing 6-4, 3-1. 

Mejia and Jianu played in the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl in Uruguay back in February, with Mejia earning a 7-6(6), 7-5 victory.

The doubles final are set for Saturday, with Mandlik the only player scheduled for two matches. Mandlik and her partner Anna Hertel of Poland will face unseeded Kacie Harvey and Natasha Subhash for the girls doubles title. Mandlik and Hertel, unseeded, beat No. 7 seeds Bartone and Diana Khodan of Ukraine 1-6, 6-2, 10-5, while Subhash and Harvey took out top seeds Lea Ma and Zheng 6-4, 6-4.

The boys doubles final features No. 8 seeds Taha Baadi of Canada and Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan against the unseeded Croatian team of Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender.  Baadi and Mitsui beat Cleeve Harper of Canada and Andres Martin 6-2, 6-4; Horvat and Kalender defeated unseeded Santiago De La Fuente and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.

Seven Americans will vie for Eddie Herr singles titles in the younger age divisions on Saturday. The boys 12s and the girls 16s are all-American finals; the girls 12s is the only division without an American in the final. Results from today’s semifinals are below, with complete draws available at the TennisLink site. Doubles finals are also set to be played on Saturday morning, with only one player in both the singles and doubles finals, Quang Duong.
Boys 12s:

Maximus Dussault[6](USA) d. Rudy Quan[1](USA) 5-7, 6-2, 10-6
Quang Duong[5](USA) d. Jinpeng Tang[15](CHN) 6-2, 7-6(4)

Boys 14s:

Togan Tokac[7](TUR) d. John Kim[5](USA) 7-6(6), 6-4
Fnu Nidunjianzan[2](USA) d. Constantinos Koshis[3](CYP) 6-4, 6-3

Boys 16s:

Haoyuan Huang(USA) d. JJ Tracy[7](USA) 6-2, 0-6, 6-2
Jacobi Bain(BAH) d. Aleksandr Kalinin(BLR) 6-2, 6-4

Girls 12s:
Alexandra Azarko(BLR) d. Nawal Youssef(CAN) 6-2, 3-6, 10-5
Sasha Situe[14](NZL) d. Sara Saito(JPN)  4-6, 6-1, 10-2

Girls 14s:

Brenda Fruhvirtova[5](CZE) d. Melisa Ercan[4](TUR) 6-4, 6-1
Clervie Ngounoue[6](USA) Liv Hovde(USA) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Girls 16s:

Madison Sieg[1](USA) d. Mary Grace Armistead(USA) 6-1, 7-5
Elaine Chervinsky[2](USA) d. Elise Wagle[16](USA) 6-2, 6-1

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