November 16th, 2007 by Adam Katz
The WPRO worked overtime today as the ladies played both their round of16 and Quarterfinals.
First up on the Stadium Court here at the Choice Hotels US OPEN was 4th seed Kerri Wachtel of Ohio taking on Mexico’s Susana Acosta. Both young ladies have represented their respective countries on many occasions, so the added pressure of being on the stadium court didn’t seem to affect either player as they both came out strong in this one. 11 points just weren’t going to be enough to settle this first game as Susana stepped into the service at 11-11. She was able to close that one out, but Kerri changed th ings up and grabbed two games 11-7 and 11-4. Needing a win to stay in, Susana fought back and once again went extra time for the 12-10 fourth game win to force the tiebreaker. However, in that breaker, Kerri came out on fire and stormed to the win 11-2. That win earned Kerri a quarterfinal berth with Chile’s Angela Grisar.
On Thursday, when the IRT played two rounds in one day, 13 of the 16 matches were won in three games. Today, Angela took her lead from that as she took on Maryland’s Doreen Fowler this morning. Knowing that there would be another match later on today, Angela got on and off in 3 games to conserve some energy for the battle ahead. Doreen played hard throughout, but it seemed that Angela had just a bit more at the end of each game to close it out and move on.
Utah’s Kristen Bellows came out very strong in her match with Indiana’s Diane Moore. Diane had a 5 game battle yesterday and that seemed to take something out of her. Combined with Kristen’s strong accuracy, Diane just couldn’t seem to find the right shot. She fought bravely throughout but Kristen closed it out in three to move on to a quarterfinal match with third seed Cheryl Gudinas Holmes.
Cheryl came into her match with former US Junior Team member, Adrienne Fisher knowing that she would have a fight on her hands and this one did not disappoint. Both players looked sharp early, but Cheryl was able to get that all important first game win 11-5. Not one to get down on herself, Adrienne regrouped quickly and came out firing in game two. When the dust settled, they were tied 1 game apiece after an 11-9 shootout for Adrienne. At this point Cheryl got fired up and proceeded to bring everything in her arsenal as she was able to close out the next two games 11-4 and 11-8 to claim her spot in the quarterfinals.
Defending Champion, Christie Van Hees of Canada, continued her strong play today claiming a 3 game win over fellow Canadian, Jen Saunders on the stadium court. Christie looked extremely sharp from the outset and never allowed Jen to get comfortable in this one. This win sets up a rematch of one of last year’s semifinals here at the Choice Hotels US OPEN when she’ll face off with South Carolina’s Brenda Kyzer in the quarterfinals.
Brenda advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a truly hard fought 4 game battle with Mexico’s Samantha Salas. Each game was very close, but Brenda used her veteran savvy towards the end of each game. Samantha did manage to squeak out the third game, but Brenda appeared to be really well focused in this one and closed it out in four to move on.
The final quarter features top seed Rhonda Rajsich from Arizona who advanced with a tough 3 game victory over a very determined Candi Hostovich of Virginia. Playing on the stadium court for the first time, Candi came out firing to a 3-0 lead. But Rhonda slowly inched her way back and was able to end each game like the professional that she is. In that quarterfinal, she’ll face one of the new faces of the WPRO in Mexican teenager, Paola Longoria, the current 16 and Under World Champion.
Paola advanced to the quarters with a very tough 4 game victory over Keely Franks of Texas. Keely came out very strong in this one and seemed to surprise Paola with her shot making ability as she took the first game 11-9. However, Paola dug deep and managed to sweep the next three games to set up a rematch of the final from this season’s very first stop the Outback Steakhouse Blast It! In that event, Paola surprised everyone to win her first ever WPRO event.
The first quarterfinal match was the Angela Grisar-Kerri Wachtel battle and this one did not disappoint. Angela came out shooting smart and Kerri was right there with her as the crowd was treated to a point for point struggle from the outset. In the end, Angela was able to create a few more offensive opportunities and was able to capitalize on them for a hard fought four game victory. This sets up a semifinal meeting on Saturday with top seed, Rhonda Rajsich.
Rhonda and Paola Longoria have enjoyed some great matches so far this season on the WPRO tour, and this one would prove to be another memorable one. This one was close throughout, but Rhonda’s experience seemed to come to the fore at the critical moments of each game. Although Paola did manage to gain the game two victory, Rhonda would come back to sweep the final two games to earn her place in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
The match up between Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and Kristen Bellows was another in a series of close matches between these two ladies, but Cheryl was able to close things out at the end of each of the three games to earn a semifinal match with Canada’s Christie Van Hees.
Christie and Brenda Kyzer played in the semifinals of the 2006 Choice Hotels US OPEN, and Brenda was looking for a better result. However, Christie had other ideas on her mind as she came out strong keeping the pressure from the beginning. Brenda did come out strong in the second game, but Christie changed tactics midway through and continued that momentum throughout the remainder of the match.
On the Men’s side, the top two seeds won three game matches today while the other two matches seemed to be absolute wars from start to finish.
First up was the Shane Vanderson – Alvaro Beltran match, and they got the quarters started with great flare as they have played some of the absolute best matches of the tour season so far. Each match has been a classic and each match seems to go 5 games and today was no exception.
It didn’t start out looking like that would be the case as Shane charged out of the gates to grab the first two games. At that point, I have to admit I started thinking about a comment Jason Mannino had made at the very start of the match. He said that Shane would take the first two, Alvaro the next two and the breaker would be anyone’s guess. Considering how well Shane played those first two, I doubted Jason’s prediction…my mistake. Alvaro stormed back to take the next two and the tiebreaker turned out to be one for the ages. Both players had mulitple match points before Shane was able to take the 12-10 win and the spot in the semifinals against Jack Huczek.
Jack played his usual controlled game and cruised past Jason Thoerner in three. Perhaps being the ref for the previous 3 quarters had taken their toll on Jason before they even stepped on the court.
The second match on the stadium court today was the other war Jason Mannino and Mitch Williams. Jason came out really strong in this one and Mitch seemed to be skipping a lot as Jason flew (sometimes literally) to the 11-4 win. The first one may have appeared easy, but nothing of what turned out to be three remaining games proved to be that way as both players were able to turn their own respective games up a notch. Jason gutted out the 11-9 second game win, but just when you thought this was only going three Mitch stormed back to squeak out the fourth game 11-9. That only served to fire Jason up even more than he already was. The fourth game was an all out war as both players left it all on the court. In the end, Jason’s experience on the Stadium Court at the Choice Hotels US OPEN proved beneficial as he came away with the fourth game and the match 11-9. That earns him a semifinal match with R ocky Carson.
Rocky played Andy Hawthorne in the quarters for the second year in a row and once again Rocky was able to earn a sweep. Andy has had some good results at various Pro Stops, but he still seems a step below the big guns of the IRT Tour.
The Tennis Channel was out here today filming the quarterfinals and I can promise you that you don’t want to miss it when they air. The current slate is for sometime in January and I will do my best to keep everyone updated of dates and times.
Tomorrow is billed as SUPER SATURDAY and it will definitely live up to the hype. Both Women’s and Men’s semifinals…plus I will be on the stadium court for 3 rallies against a pro as they are doing a fund raiser for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital…I know I can’t wait.
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