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2007 Junior Nationals – Day 3

June 23rd, 2007 by Adam Katz

Before I start with today’s update, I have to say…WOW what an incredible day of intense, high quality racquetball at these Junior Nationals. As you all know by now, I usually try to highlight one or two matches that stood out during the course of the day, but the reality is that today just about every division had a bona fide Match of the Day.

As usual, we’ll start with the Girl’s 18 Singles where this match of the day was the battle between Ohio’s Holly Hettesheimer and Kara Mazur of Connecticut. Although it only last two games, they were both memorable as they traded points throughout this one until late in the game each time. Holly managed to dig deep both times and earned the 15-12, 15-13 win and a semifinal date with her doubles partner, Sharon Jackson of Indiana. Sharon disposed of yesterday’s upset specialist, California’s Sue Sublaban in two games today. Also advancing to the semifinals were Michelle Key of Arizona and Samantha McGuffey of Ohio.

In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, the matches were a bit one sided as higher seeded team won both matchups in this round robin event, but those two teams Hettesheimer/Jackson and Mazur/McGuffey will square off tomorrow in what amounts to the championship match of this round robin event. There is still a chance that Key/Schnurman can throw a wrench into the plans, but at this point the two teams have separated themselves from the field.

In the Girl’s 16 Singles, both Sheryl Lotts of Ohio and Danielle Key of Arizona enjoyed comfortable wins today to set up their championship match tomorrow afternoon. These two played for the National Title in the Girl’s 14s in Portland two years ago with Sheryl taking the title, so I’m sure Danielle is anxious to avenge that loss in front of her hometown fans.

In the Girl’s 16 Doubles, tomorrow will bring the championship match in this round robin event as Key/Lotts takes on Brianna Ho and Jessica Munoz. Sheryl and Danielle have looked extremely strong together this week, and I can’t say that I’ve seen either of the other players in a match so far. Consequently, I won’t make any premature predictions at this time.

In the Girl’s 14 Singles, the top 4 seeds have all advanced to the semifinals but the match of the day here again only went two games but was another point for point struggle as Connecticut’s Samantha Rosado defeated Ohio’s Lily Berry 15-13,15-12. I didn’t have a clock going on this one, but it was a very long battle with some great shooting from both players. Samantha was just able to dig deeper as each game came to a close to get the win.

In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, there is currently a three way tie for the lead in this round robin event. Aubrey O’Brien and Lily Berry will play each of the other teams in the tie (Jackie and Samantha Rosado and Courtney Chisholm/Devon Pimentelli) in the next two days so there probably won’t be a national champion decided until Sunday in this division. Each of these three teams has been playing very well this week so tomorrow’s battle between Berry/O’Brien and Rosado/Rosado could be something special.

In the Girl’s 12 Singles, another match of the day took place in the quarterfinal between Virginia’s Kelani Bailey, in her Junior Nationals debut, and yes, she is Malia’s daughter, and Ohio’s Abbey Lavely, a seasoned Junior Nationals participant and several time National Champion already. Abbey seemed to come out a step slow in this one and Kelani took quick advantage for a 15-2 win in game one. This seemed to fire Abbey up as she came back to the court for the second game. Jumping to a 9-1 lead, Abbey looked to be in control and ready to force a tiebreaker, but Kelani had other ideas. She slowly chipped away at the lead and even grabbed a short lived 11-10 lead, but Abbey perservered and came back for the 15-11 win to force the tiebreaker. In that tiebreaker, Kelani came out strong hitting some solid passing shots to both sides of the court keeping Abbey off balance. She grabbed a quick lead of about 5-2 and then seemed to stall. Mali a, at this point, started to get a bit nervous and was seen pacing around the court area and I just tried to stay out of the way and enjoy this match. They seemed to trade points for a while until Kelani got to 10-6. At this point, they started trading serves as neither player could get the elusive next point, but then Kelani managed to get it and Malia was the first to voice her approval. She now faces a semifinal match against Michigan’s third seeded Mercedes Arias tomorrow. In the other half of the bracket, Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford will take on California’s Sabrina Viscuso for a spot in the finals.

In the Girl’s 12 Doubles, the top two teams will face off tomorrow for the National Title as Hollee Hungerford and Sabrina Viscuso will team up to take on Ohio’s Abbey Lavely and Colorado’s Elizabeth Vargas. Abbey and Elizabeth took home the gold in the Girl’s 10 doubles last year after beating Sabrina and her previous partner in a very exciting and very long lasting final match and will have to defeat Sabrina and her latest partner if they are to gain the win in their first attempt in the Girl’s 12 Doubles.

In the Girl’s 10 Singles, the top four seeds have all advanced to the semifinals and two of my Team Colorado players are a part of this group. Elizabeth Vargas will take on Oregon’s Alecia Fladstol while Erika Manilla will challenge California’s Ashley O’Brien for spots in Sunday’s Finals. I watched each of these young ladies play today and all I can say is they will have some really good matches in this division tomorrow.

In the Girl’s 10 Doubles, we’ve crowned our first National Champions of this year’s event as Florida’s Abby Carter and Kaitlyn Simmons of Maryland completed their sweep of this round robin division with an impressive 15-2,15-6 victory over the Boyle sisters of Oregon. Congratulations to Abby and Kaitlyn! They really played great this week.

In the Girl’s 8 Singles, our match of the day here was the semifinal battle between Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider and Michigans, Mary Zeng. These two played in the multi bounce division last year in Michigan, and I cannot recall who won. However today it appeared that Mary would be heading into the finals as she grabbed a 15-8 victory in the first game. But Jordan had other ideas as she displayed the heart that all of these kids have shown throughout this event to come back and win the next two games 15-6 and 11-4.

In the Boy’s 18 Singles, the top four seeds are all through to the semifinals, but not without a major scare for the second seed, Jose Rojas. In another match of the day, Jose took on Nebraska’s Jacob Hutkins. I didn’t actually get to see this match but if you were fortunate enough to be logged on to racquetballonline.tv this evening, then you surely saw a great match. Jacob gave it everything he had, but Jose was able to gut out the 13-15, 15-5, 11-7 win to move on to the semifinals where he’ll face Richard Sledzik of Massachusetts. In the other half of the bracket, top seed Allan Crockett of Alabama will face California’s Ishmael Aldana for the spot in the finals and a spot on the US Junior National Team.

In the Boy’s 18 Doubles, the top two seeds have advanced to the final Ishmael Aldana and Danny Lavely struggled mightily against Jacob Hutkins and Jansen Allen, but were able to fight through some struggles as they are playing a tournament together for the first time. They battled their way to a 15-14,15-9 victory and a matchup against Allan Crockett and Jonathan Doyle for a National Title and a spot on the US Junior Team. As fast as all these players are, I’m sure this final will be a lot of fun to watch.

In the Boy’s 16 Singles, the top four seeds have advanced and again the number two seed, in this case Oregon’s Taylor Knoth played in the match of the day. Taking on his doubles partner in Minnesota’s Jake Bredenbeck, Taylor survived three up and down games for the 15-3, 9-15, 11-4 victory and a match against the player he defeated last year for the 14 Singles National Title, New York’s Brad Kirch. The added bonus to this match tomorrow occured today with the arrival of Hall of Famer, Jim Winterton. Jim coaches Brad and will most likely be on the sidelines tomorrow alongside Taylor’s coach and also Hall of Famer, Fran Davis. So the battle will be both on the court and off in this one and I know I can’t wait to see the results. In the other half of the draw, Jose Rojas will take on 4th seed Trevor Snyders of Illinois for a spot in the Final on Sunday.

In the Boy’s 16 Doubles, both of the semifinals were worthy of being called the match of the day as John-Craig Chisholm and Brad Kirch defeated Miguel Wiggins and Trevor Snyders in 3 tough games 9-15,15-9,11-1. Not to be outdone, Jake Bredenbeck and Taylor Knoth defeated Danny Lavely and Chad McGuffey also in three tough games. Scores were 11-15,15-4,11-2. So Brad and Taylor will meet twice tomorrow and therefore Fran and Jim will square off at least twice tomorrow as well.

In the Boy’s 14 Singles, again the top four seeds are into the semifinals and they all did so today in fairly comfortable fashion. So in tomorrow’s semifinals, Louisiana’s Joseph Lee will take on California’s Marko Rojas in a rematch of a classic match that occured in 2005 in Portland. In the other half of the bracket, top seed Dylan Reid of Oregon will take on California’s Jose Diaz. All of these players are definitely playing beyond their years to this point and these matches tomorrow will certainly provide some highlight reel material.

In the Boy’s 14 Doubles, the 4 singles semifinalists will get very familiar with each other tomorrow as the team of Joseph Lee and Dylan Reid will take on the team of Jose Diaz and Marko Rojas for the title and the spot on the Junior National Team.

In the Boy’s 12 Singles, yet another match of the day as Colorado’s Adam Manilla took on Oregon’s Joshua Lebow for a spot in the semifinals. Adam came out and built a 3-1 lead in this one and seemed comfortable, but Joshua was shooting extremely well and keeping the pressure on throughout the first game. Adam was able to score the 15-8 win, but the amount of diving that he was doing was certainly concerning me. I walked away from this match for a couple of minutes and then I heard the referree call a score of “zero serving six”. Naturally, I hoped that Adam was receiving serve, but when I got back to the match I say that Adam did in fact serve that particular ball. Once I returned to that court, Adam started to chip away at the lead. He got it to 5-6 before Joshua went on another run, but Adam again fought back from 9-14 to 12-14 before Joshua was able to put the game away. In the tiebreaker, Adam grabbed an early lead and refused to allow J oshua to get too close and he pulled away for the 11-6 win and a spot in the semifinals against his former doubles partner, Sam Reid of Oregon. That barnburner will take place tomorrow afternoon, and I will definitely be there to watch that one. In the other half of the draw, Oregon’s John Lindsay will take on Louisiana’s Zach Wertz for the spot in the finals on Sunday.

In the Boy’s 12 Doubles, 3 of the four players will get very familiar with each other tomorrow as Sam Reid and his current partner, John Lindsay will take on Adam Manilla and his current partner, Florida’s Sean Cooperrider for the title. Adam has won a National title in doubles in each of the past two Junior Nationals, one with Sam and one with Sean. In both cases, they were beaten in the semifinals at the Junior World Championships.

In the Boy’s 10 Singles, the top half of the draw provided all the drama as Jake Birnel of Washington and Colorado’s Matt McAdam met in yet another match of the day. Three very tough games ended with Jake squeaking out the 9-15,15-10,11-10 win and a spot in the semifinals against Matt’s doubles partner, Sam Bredenbeck of Minnesota. Sam upset the top seed, Kyle Ulliman of Ohio to earn his spot in this matchup. The other half of the draw has played to form as second seed, Spencer Shoemaker of Ohio will take on third seed Ryan Francis of New Hampshire for the spot in the finals.

In the Boy’s 10 Doubles, the top two seeds have advanced to the finals as Ohio’s Shoemaker/Ulliman will take on the Minnesota/Colorado combo of Bredenbeck and McAdam for the title.

In the Boy’s 8 Singles, the seeds really didn’t hold here as only the top seeded Justus Benson of Wisconsin was able to secure a spot in the semifinals. In that semi, he’ll face another Bailey in Malia’s son, Warren. The other half of the bracket pits Minnesota’s Jordan Barth against Oregon’s Daryl Wainwright.

Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day of racquetball, but at the same time there will be many great joys and many great sorrows as the 2007 US Junior National Team will be determined, with the possible(more likely probably) exception of the Girl’s 14 Doubles. While it is great to see the exhilaration that comes to the winners, sometimes it can be hard to watch the devastation that befalls the vanquished.

I certainly hope you’re enjoying reading these updates and I do apologize that I haven’t been able to provide pictures along with them. If you’d like to see some pictures of players alongside these updates, please check out the following website:

http://www.usra.org/Tournaments/2007JuniorNationals/tabid/3329/Default.aspx

The Banquet is tomorrow night, so the update will probably go out late tomorrow or early Sunday morning.

Related posts:

  1. Introducing the 2008 USA Racquetball National Junior Team
  2. 2006 Junior Nationals – Wednesday
  3. 2006 USA Racquetball Junior Nationals – Saturday
  4. 2006 USA Racquetball Junior Nationals – Friday
  5. 2007 Junior Nationals – Day 2

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