By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. – It’s only been in existence for six years, but Jordan Daigle said he couldn’t help but peek at the past winners of the USTA Spring International Championships as he advanced through the draw this past week.
Daigle knew that recent winners and finalists have included current professionals Sam Querrey (2005 18s singles winner), Jesse Levine (2005 18s doubles finalist) and Ryan Harrison (2006 16s singles finalist and doubles winner).
The No. 9 seeded Lafayette, La., resident Daigle added his name to the past champions list on Saturday with a 7-6 (6), 6-1 win over No. 11 seeded Thai Kwiatkowski of Charlotte, N.C., to win the boys’ 16s at the ITF Grade 1 event being played at the Home Depot Center.
“I did look it up a couple of days ago,” Daigle admitted. “There are some pretty big names there. This is my biggest win ever.”
It looked like Daigle would have finalist written next to his name shortly after the match started as he fell down 4-0. “I was pretty nervous when the match started but just settled down and started to slow things down a bit.”
Daigle will be unseeded in the 16s at next week’s Easter Bowl. “This just gives me tons of confidence,” he said. “I don’t know if I can see myself holding a trophy next weekend but we’ll see.”
Alyssa Smith of Laguna Hills, Calif., was one of the many Southern California storylines on the day as she captured the girls’ 16 singles title with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over fellow Orange County resident Mayo Hibi, the No. 7 seed who lives in Irvine but represents Japan.
“I’ve lost to her the last two times we’ve played,” said Smith, who trains at the USTA Training Center – West on the same courts she won her first Grade 1 title. “It’s amazing that we’ve played locally and sectional events and here we are in the final of an International ITF tournament.”
She added, “I knew I’d have to grind it out against her. I wasn’t going to win 0-0 so I had to just be patient and remind myself not to over hit.”
Two future UCLA teammates will meet in the final of the boys’ 18s singles final Sunday at 9 a.m. as Daniel Kosakowski of Downey, Calif., and Clay Thompson of Venice Beach, Calif., both won semifinal matches Saturday in straight sets.
Thompson said a strained groin muscle had him concerned before he went to bed Friday night. “I was pretty worried about it,” Thompson said. “But I woke up and spent some time with the trainer and had a great warm-up. It didn’t bother me at all.”
Kosakowski said he expects Thompson’s best Sunday. “He’ll be ready to go,” said Kosakowski, whose brother Marcin played for UC Santa Barbara from 1999-2001. “He’s been playing a ton of tennis.”
Thompson, who recently began working with Southern California coaching legend Robert Lansdorp, is coming off a win last week at the Claremont ITF Grade 4 event meaning he’s on a 13-match winning streak going back to a sectional event in the South Bay two weeks ago.
Fifteen-year-old Southern Californian Krista Hardebeck of Santa Ana, Calif., came up with the biggest win of her young career and earned a spot in the girls’ 18s final with a surprising 6-3, 6-0 victory over top-seeded Katarena Paliivets, the No. 37th ranked ITF junior in the world. “I was stunned,” Hardebeck said of Paliivets’ play in the second set. “I know she’s played a lot of my friends and can come back at any time. I was just thinking she might come back and win like 700 games in a row.”
Hardebeck will play 14-year-old Sachia Vickery from Miramar, Fla., a straight-set winner over unseeded Juliana Gajic, in today’s 9 a.m. final.
In the boys’ 18s doubles final, top-seeded Darien King and Raymond Sarmiento beat Connor Farren and Dennis Novikov, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
In the boys’ 16s doubles final, Jonathan Hammel and Alex Scheinman took out the fellow unseeded team of Jonathan Poon and Seth Stolar, 7-5, 4-6, (10-2).
In the girls’ 18s doubles final, Ellen Tsay and Monica Turewicz, the No. 4 seeded team, beat No. 5 seeded Kyle McPhillips and Chanelle Nguyen, 7-6 (5), 6-1.
In the girls’ 16s doubles final, the top-seeded team of Brooke Austin and Mia King took out Hibi and Skylar Morton, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-7).
SATURDAY’S SINGLES RESULTS
Boys’ 18s Semifinals
Clay Thompson, U.S., def. Daniel McCall, U.S., 6-0, 6-2
Daniel Kosakowski, U.S., def. Nick Chappell (6), U.S., 6-3, 6-3
Boys’ 16s Final
Jordan Daigle (9), U.S., def. Thai Kwiatkowski (11), U.S., 7-6 (5), 6-2
Girls’ 18s Semifinals
Krista Hardebeck, U.S., def. Katarena Paliivets (1), Canada, 6-3, 6-0
Sachia Vickery (8), U.S., def. Juliana Gajic, Canada, 6-1, 7-5
Girls’ 16s Final
Alyssa Smith (10), U.S., def. Mayo Hibi (7), Japan, 7-6 (5), 6-2
SATURDAY’S DOUBLES RESULTS
Boys’ 18s Semifinals
Darian King, U.S.-Raymond Sarmiento (1), U.S., def. Emmett Egger, U.S.-Shane Visant (4), 6-2, 3-6, (10-5)
Connor Farren, U.S.-Dennis Novikov (6), U.S., def. Chase Curry, U.S.-Wyatt McCoy, U.S., 2-6, 6-4, (10-6)
Boys’ 18s Finals
King-Sarmiento (1) def. Farren-Novikov (6), 6-4, 7-6 (2)
Boys’ 16s Finals
Jonathan Hammel, U.S.-Alex Scheinman, U.S., def. Jonathan Poon, U.S.-Seth Stolar, U.S., 7-5, 4-6, (10-2)
Girls’ 18s Semifinals
Ellen Tsay, U.S.-Monica Turewicz (4), U.S., def. Lauren Herring, U.S.-Grace Min (1), U.S., 6-3, 4-6, (10-4)
Kyle McPhillips, U.S.-Chanelle Nguyen (5), U.S., def. Ashley Dai, U.S.-Riko Shimizu, U.S., 7-6 (7), 6-1
Girls’ 18s Finals
Tsay-Turewicz (4) def. McPhillips- Nguyen, 7-6 (5), 6-1
Girls’ 16s Finals
Brooke Austin, U.S.-Mia King (1), U.S., def. Mayo Hibi, Japan-Skylar Morton (2), U.S., 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-7