Photo: Susan MullaneThai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA)
FLORIDA, USA: Day four of the 18-under competition at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships provided one of the biggest upsets so far at the marquee Grade A event in Florida when young American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski brought Chilean Christian Garin’s winning run to a sudden end. Kwiatkowski, from Charlotte, North Carolina, beat last week’s Eddie Herr International 18s’ champion 63 61 to move into the quarterfinals.
“I knew going into the match he was playing well, obviously, because he won Eddie Herr last week,” Kwiatkowski said. “I felt pretty confident this week. I feel comfortable on the clay. I knew that I certainly had a chance if I did the right things and stayed in it – mentally tough. And I feel for him, because he’s played a lot of matches.”
Kwiatkowski wasn’t the only American giantkiller on Thursday. His 16-year-old compatriot - and upcoming quarterfinal opponent - Deiton Baughman upset fourth seed Borna Coric of Croatia with a 46 63 62 third victory. Baughman, the only unseeded boy left in the boys’’ 18s’ singles draw. He howed plenty of clay-court prowess on the dirt courts of the Frank Veltri Tennis Centre in Plantation, Florida, and afterwards told local media that he benefitted from time spent on clay in preparation for the tournament.
“I’ve been practicing on clay ever since I got back home,” Baughman said. “So, it’s basically been like three and a half straight weeks just on clay. So, I feel really good on this surface, and obviously I got a win against a guy from Europe who plays on clay, and it’s what everybody says is their best surface. So to beat him so convincingly on clay in the third set, I’m obviously very pleased with my play.”
The top three seeds in the boys’ 18s’ draw all safely negotiated their third round matches, with Gianluigi Quinzi (ITA), Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) and Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) all scoring straight sets wins.
Things went to form a little more to form in the girls’ 18s’ draw on Thursday, which means that seven of the top eight seeds will feature in the quarterfinal line-up. The only unseeded girls left in the 18s’ singles draw is Natalia Vajdova (SVK), who has come through a section of the draw left open by the first round defeat (by Rasheeda McAdoo) of third seed Elizaveta Kulichova of Russia.
Top seed Taylor Townsend strengthened her chances of finishing the season as the year-end No.1 on the ITF Junior Rankings when she beat 13th seed Katy Dunne 64 64. Townsend is being chased for the top spot in the year-end rankings by Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic, who earned her last eight spot with a 61 63 win over Ayaka Okuno (JPN).
The Czech needs to win the singles title and even then could still be stymied if Townsend continues to progress in singles and doubles. Both girls are through to the doubles quarterfinals as well, with Siniakova playing alongside Barbara Haas of Austria and Townsend joining forces with countrywoman Gabrielle Andrews. Townsend revealed earlier this week that she intends to turn professional imminently and has now signed with Lagadere Unlimited Management company as part of her transition to the pro game.
Next up for Townsend at the Orange Bowl is 17-year-old Carol Zhao of Canada, whom she played in the third round of Roland Garros Junior competition earlier this year. Siniakova plays Chalena Scholl of the USA, who she has never played before.