02 Jul 2012

Rain and chill can’t keep juniors down

News Article

Photo: Susan MullaneTaylor Townsend (USA)

It was a typical rainy and chilly day at Wimbledon but that didn’t prevent many first round junior matches from being squeezed in between the raindrops.

Top-seeded Taylor Townsend of USA showed why she favors faster court surfaces when she cruised to a 62 61 win against the girl with the longest name in the draw -- Maria Constanza de las Mercedes Vega of Argentina -- in just 66-minutes on a blustery Monday.

Townsend is a player who likes to play at the net and the grass is perfect for that kind of game.

“It was good out there,” Townsend said. “It was tough conditions out there and the grass was playing different than usual, it wasn’t bouncing as high and it was damp. And it was cold outside and really windy. It was 63 degrees -- I’m like bundling up.”

“There was a lot of adjustments we had to make, but I can’t complain.”

While Townsend’s game translates well to the grass she hadn’t ever played on the surface until at Roehampton last week.

“I can honestly say I like the grass, hands down,” Townsend said. “It’s my favorite surface.”

Townsend never offered Vega a break point opportunity and took advantage of five of 12 break point chances the Argentine presented.

The American, who trains with the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., put up 35 winners to only seven for Vega.

Townsend’s been living in the dorms, but her mother just moved to Boca Raton so she’s going to get to live at home now. The big bonus: She’ll get to be with her cat, Gilligan.  She plans to run to the training center every day from her nearby apartment.

“Kathy (Rinaldi, her USTA coach) has been telling me to play my own game, keep being aggressive and keep things simple,” Townsend said. “That’s what I did today. Kept it simple.”

Townsend was in a boot  because of her foot and ankle -- she rolled her ankle at the French Open -- so she only did upper body fitness for about four days after Roland Garros.

In another girls’ match, 13th-seeded Alexandra Kiick came through a tough 46 64 62 against Carol Zhao of Canada. It was only the second week that Kiick’s ever played on grass - she reached the quarterfinals at Roehampton event last week.

Kiick was extremely honest about the fact that she was extremely lucky to make it into the second round.

“Carol played a great match and overall I think she was the better player today,” she said. “But I just kept the ball deep and in the middle. It just wasn’t my day today. I’m just very lucky.”

Where Kiick won the match the match that was three minutes shy of two hours long was  she had nearly half the unforced errors of Zhao: 28 to 52.

Both players had trouble on serve. Kiick offered Zhao 18 break point opportunities of which the Canadian successfully broke serve on three occasions. Zhao’s  serve was broken on five of 11 times she faced service breaks.

In boys’ action, French Open champion Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium carried on his winning ways by beating E. Esteve Lobato of Spain 64 63 in 59-minutes.

Coppejans found the weather conditions difficult but prevailed with little trouble. He won 11 of 15 points at the net as compared to one of four for Lobato. The Spaniard only had one chance to break serve in the opening set, but was unable to take advantage of the offer. Coppejans took care of three of the five break points he had, two in the second set and one in the first set.

“It was not easy to play today,” Coppejans said. “The circumstances were not perfect and I didn’t get to warm up before the match.”

For Coppejans, it was important to come into Wimbledon and do well off of his French Open victory.

“I wanted to get through the first round because I think that’s the most difficult match after winning a big tournament,” Coppejans said. “It’s restarting from zero and it’s sometimes in your head you just won a big tournament.”

Coppejans said the efforts of a countryman in the Roland Garros main draw helped him to win the boys’ championship.

“I was inspired by (David) Goffin,” Coppejans said. “He had such a great tournament there. I was thinking that maybe it’s possible I could do something great, too.”

And Stefan Kozlov of the United States, at 14 the youngest boy in the draw, came through with a 57 62 61 win over Daniel Masur of Germany.

He might be the youngest, but he’s astoundingly mature for his age.

Kozlov, the son of two teaching pros from Russia, was born in Macedonia and moved at age one to Pembroke Pines, Florida. These days he lives in the dorms at the USTA Training Center at Boca Raton, about a half hour north of where his family is headquartered.

Kozlov broke serve seven time in 17 chances. He hit six aces. He had 28 winners. He had only 16 unforced errors to 35 for Masur.

“I played my game and played unreal today and that’s all I could expect for,” Kozlov said. “The first two sets were fine but the third set we had raindrops, but I tried not to let it bother me.

“I thought I played pretty aggressive and played pretty well.”

In other girls’ matches: Sixth-seeded Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic beat qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia 62 46 63, eighth-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia defeated Christina Makarova of USA 63 64, 12th-seeded Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands defeated qualifier Viktoriya Lushkova of Ukraine 63 64.

Briton Katy Dunne made good on her wildcard by upsetting 10th-seeded Chalena Scholl of USA 63 64 in another match finished on a day beleaguered by rain.

In other boys action: top-seeded Luke Saville of Australia beat Laurent Lokoli of France 61 64, third-seeded Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy defeated qualifier Hassan Ndayishimiye of Burundi 63 61, and sixth-seeded Nikola Milojevic of Serbia defeated Gabriel Friedrich of Brazil.

Ninth seeded Andrew Harris of Australia was upset by wildcard recipient Enzo Couacaud of France 61 36 64.Qualifier Maximilian Marterer of Germany upset 14th-seeded Noah Rubin of USA 64 64.