U.S. Junior Boys Start Strongly--
©Colette Lewis 2005
Flushing Meadows NY—-
It was a good day for American boys Sunday, with seven of the eleven playing advancing to the second round in singles.
With over a quarter of the boys draw, (18 of the 64 entrants) from the United States, and five of them seeded, much is expected. But nearly all Sunday's victories were hard-won. Michael Shabaz, Alex Clayton and Alex Kuznetsov all came from a set down to advance, and Wil Spencer and Tim Smyczek needed three to prevail. Only Tim Neilly, the tenth seed, and Dennis Lajola managed to keep their time on the National Tennis Center outer courts to a minimum.
Kuznetsov, who has made a remarkable recovery from a broken right leg suffered in a May auto accident, lost the first set to Croatian Nikola Mektic in a tiebreak, but his attitude about that first set loss reflects a change of perspective borne of the collison with a tree.
“It’s my first (singles) match back since the accident,” said the eighteen-year-old from Richboro Pennsylvania. “I’m so happy to just be out playing,” the fifth seed said. “It’s the first time I’ve taken the court feeling no pressure. I’m out here to have fun and get some matches.”
Michael Shabaz also had not played many singles matches this summer, but after dropping the first set to Russian Valery Rudnev 7-5, the Wimbledon doubles champion found a groove and took the final two sets 7-5, 6-3.
Alex Clayton’s superior fitness proved to be the difference in his 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 conquest of Ukrainian Ivan Sergeyev. Although he squandered a 4-1 lead in the first set, the seventeen-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale proved his mettle, climbing back from a break down in the second set.
“I knew I had to make a change,” said Clayton, the winner of the National Clay Courts in July. “I started to hit high to his backhand.” It was a strategy that eventually wore his opponent down, and while Clayton continued to bounce, Sergeyev, sweating through his clothing in the pleasnt late afternoon weather, began to double over between points. Unable to handle Clayton’s first serve regularly, Sergeyev attempted to shorten any point when he did manage to return one, and often he managed to prolong the games, but not, ultimately, the match.
The girls from the United States have even bigger numbers in the draw, with 21 of the 64 participants from the U.S., but only three of the nine that played Sunday advanced—Alexa Glatch, Liz Plotkin and Maddie Brengle.
For full draws, see
For more photos of U.S. Juniors, see ustaboys.com