By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
– Getting stronger and stronger as each round progresses, Las Vegas qualifier Kimberly Yee won her seventh match in seven days on Friday, exacting some revenge against Dallas’ Peggy Porter in convincing fashion, 6-1, 6-2, to advance to the girls’ 18s semifinals at the USTA International Spring Championships being played at the Home Depot Center.
Just last week, Yee fell to Porter in the quarterfinals of the Claremont ITF.
"I just felt more confident today. I was the attacker," said Yee, 16. "She was making a few more errors, but it was because I was forcing them."
Yee feels fortunate just to be alive in the tournament, as she has won two third-set tiebreaks, including one in the quarterfinals on Thursday, when she faced a match point, and in her second-round qualifying match last Sunday, when she overcame two match points. Later that day, she qualified for the main draw with a straight-sets win before a much-needed day of rest on Monday.
Yee will next face No. 5-seeded Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., who needed nearly three hours to defeat No. 2-seeded Victoria Rodriguez of Weston, Fla., 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
In the other 18s semifinal, top-seeded Christina Makarova will face unseeded Mayo Hibi of Irvine, Calif., as both were easy straight-set winners on Friday.
In the boys’ 18s, two 16-year-olds and a pair of 15-year-olds all won big matches Friday to make the Final Four weekend. Henrik Wiersholm, 16, of Kirkland, Wash., upset top-seeded Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, N.Y., 6-4, 6-3. Just like Yee’s revenge win, the same was true for Wiersholm, who fell to Rubin in their only other meeting at the ITF Pan American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., last fall.
"The ’97 and ’98s (years born) are coming through here," Wiersholm said. "We all train together and push each other a lot, so when we come to big events like this, it really shows."
Wiersholm is a former winner of Les Petits As, a prestigious 14-and-under event played in France, and he’s joined in the semifinals by another former Les Petits As victor, 15-year-old Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Md.
Tiafoe, the No. 14 seed who is No. 114 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, won his second consecutive third-set tiebreak match and said afterward that he doesn’t fear anyone in the draw, including his semifinal opponent, fellow 15-year-old Stefan Kozlov.
"He’s considered the best from ’98 in the U.S., and I put myself at No. 2," Tiafoe said of Kozlov. "He’s an unbelievable player, top 15 in the world. I’ve never been able to beat him, and he’s gotten the better of me the three or four times we’ve played."
Tiafoe said his confidence level is at an all-time high.
"I know I can beat anyone in the draw," he said. "You can never be too confident. Every match I play, I believe I can win."
In the girls’ 16s final, 12-year-old Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., will face No. 13-seeded Ena Shibahara of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. It is a home match for Liu, a seventh-grader who trains three days a week at the Carson site, which is the home for the USTA Training Center West. Shibahara beat No. 12-seeded Samantha Martinelli of Denver, 6-2, 6-1.
In the boys’ 16s final, No. 7-seeded Catalin Mateas of Braintree, Mass., will face No. 4-seeded Jake Devine of Boca Raton, Fla.
For a complete rundown of Friday’s scores and updated draws, click here
Boys' 18 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Stefan Kozlov (2), Pembroke Pines, FL def. Spencer Papa (6), Edmond, OK 6-2, 6-2
Naoki Nakagawa (4), Japan def. Alexander Zverev (11), Wesley Chapel, FL 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
Henrik Wiersholm, Kirkland, WA def. Noah Rubin (1), Rockville Centre, NY 6-4, 6-3
Francis Tiafoe (14), College Park, MD def. Daniel Kerznerman (10), Brooklyn, NY 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3)
Boys' 18 Doubles (Semifinals)
Tommy Mylnikov / Naoki Nakagawa (2) def. Walker Duncan / John Mee 6-2, 6-2
Spencer Papa / Alexander Zverev (3) def. Luca Corinteli / Martin Redlicki (1) 3-6, 6-4, 10-4
Girls' 18 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Christina Makarova (1), San Diego, CA def. Madison Bourguignon (8), Boynton Beach, FL 6-3, 6-2
Mayo Hibi, Irvine, CA def. Alejandra Cisneros Gomez (3), Mexico 6-1, 6-1
Kimberly Yee, Las Vegas, NV def. Peggy Porter, Dallas, TX 6-1, 6-2
Jamie Loeb (5), Ossining, NY def. Victoria Rodriguez (2), Weston, FL 5-7, 6-3, 6-3
Girls' 18 Doubles (Semifinals)
Mayo Hibi / Denise Starr (7) def. Alejandra Cisneros Gomez / Victoria Rodriguez (1) 6-4, 2-6, 10-6
Jamie Loeb / Maegan Manasse def. Brooke Austin / Kimberly Yee 6-2, 6-1
Boys' 16 Singles (Semifinals)
Catalin Mateas (7), Braintree, MA def. Kalman Boyd, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 7-6(3), 6-1
Jake Devine (4), Boca Raton, FL def. Kyle Seelig (12), Hatfield, PA 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1
Boys' 16 Doubles (Semifinals)
Chase Colton / Kyle Seelig (5) def. Grayson Broadus / Jean Thirouin (2) 6-2, 6-4
Taylor Fritz / Daniel Gealer (8) def. Emil Reinberg / Brian Tsao (6) 6-3, 2-6, 10-8
Girls' 16 Singles (Semifinals)
Claire Liu, Thousand Oaks, CA def. Caroline Dolehide (14), Hinsdale, IL 7-5, 6-0
Ena Shibahara (13), Rancho Palos Verdes, CA def. Samantha Martinelli (12), Denver, CO 6-2, 6-1
Girls' 16 Doubles (Semifinals)
Caroline Dolehide / Alexis Nelson (8) def. Madison Appel / Rebecca Weissmann (1) 6-1, 6-3
Ena Shibahara / Savannah Slaysman def. Paulina Ferrari / Jada Hart (6) 6-1, 6-2