By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
– It’s safe to say that if you make it to Friday at the USTA International Spring Championships you are considered one of the best junior tennis players in the world.
Sixteen was cut to eight in the boys’ and girls’ 18s division on Thursday, as some very close three-set matches highlighted the day of play at the Home Depot Center.
In one of the straight-set matches, Jamie Loeb, the No. 5-seeded player from Ossining, N.Y., used her experience to defeat 14-year-old Maria Shishkina, the No. 11 seed from Bradenton, Fla., 6-3, 6-4.
The 18-year-old Loeb is headed to the University of North Carolina on a full-ride tennis scholarship in the fall but first would like to use her positive results in Carson and possibly next week at the Easter Bowl to qualify for the main draw of the junior French Open, Wimbledon and US Open over the next five months.
"I’m going to try and get into all the remaining junior Grand Slams," said Loeb, who trains at the John McEnroe Academy on Randall’s Island in New York. "I really haven’t thought much about it, that this is it for my junior career – my last Carson and Easter Bowl. But, you know, it’s time to move on."
Moving on is what 15-year-old Francis Tiafoe, the No. 14 seed from College Park, Md., did, taking out No. 3-seeded Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, Calif., 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (3), in two hours, 26 minutes in one of the day’s most competitive matches.
Similarly, Las Vegas qualifier Kimberly Yee pulled out a nearly three-hour marathon, also needing a third-set tiebreak to down Nicole Frenkel of Winchester, Mass., 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (6).
"I couldn’t just keep it in and get it back because I knew she would put away everything if I did," said Yee, who battled a mid-afternoon wind. "It can get windy in Las Vegas, so I’m used to it."
With his grandmother loyally watching him all week, No. 6-seeded Spencer Papa of Edmond, Okla., beat Tommy Mylnikov, the No. 9 seed from Bradenton, Fla., 7-5, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals on Friday.
He next meets friend and USTA National Training Center partner of the past two years Stefan Kozlov, the No. 2 seed.
"It’s always nice to have someone in your family at your matches," said Papa, whose father’s family is from nearby Orange County. His grandmother Sharon Tisdale Papa resides in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Papa, 17, is a junior in high school but still has no plans for college.
"I’ve always wanted to turn pro," he said. "I have no idea where I’d go if I had to decide tomorrow."
Loeb later teamed with Maegan Manasse of Redondo Beach, Calif., to make the semifinals in doubles with a straight-sets win over Usue Arconada and Jessica Cortes, 6-4, 6-3.
Manasse’s singles run ended earlier in the day, as she fell to Dallas’ Peggy Porter, 6-1, 6-2.
In the biggest upset of the day in the boys’ 16s, top-seeded William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., fell to No. 7 Catalin Mateas of Braintree, Mass., 6-4, 6-2.
For a complete rundown of Thursday’s scores and updated draws, click here
Boys' 18 Singles (Round of 16)
Naoki Nakagawa (4), Japan def. AJ Catanzariti, Pittsburgh, PA 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Francis Tiafoe (14), College Park, MD def. Mackenzie McDonald (3), Piedmont, CA 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(3)
Spencer Papa (6), Edmond, OK def. Tommy Mylnikov (9), Bradenton, FL 7-5, 6-4
Stefan Kozlov (2), Pembroke Pines, FL def. Alex Rybakov, Coral Springs, FL 6-1, 7-5
Henrik Wiersholm, Kirkland, WA def. Ciro Riccardi, Los Angeles, CA 6-0, 6-3
Daniel Kerznerman (10), Brooklyn, NY def. Grant Solomon, Dallas, TX 6-1, 6-0
Alexander Zverev (11), Wesley Chapel, FL def. Andres Alfonso, Paredes, Venezuela, 6-0, 6-2
Noah Rubin (1), Rockville Centre, NY def. JC Aragone, Yorba Linda, CA 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Boys' 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Luca Corinteli / Martin Redlicki (1) def. Justin Butsch / Lucas Gomez (6) 7-5, 7-6(6)
Spencer Papa / Alexander Zverev (3) def. JC Aragone / Mackenzie. McDonald (5) 6-2, 6-0
Walker Duncan / John Mee def. Michael Mmoh / Francis Tiafoe (4) 2-6, 7-6(4), 10-7
Tommy Mylnikov / naoki nakagawa (2) def. Jordi Arconada / Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5
Girls' 18 Singles (Round of 16)
Jamie Loeb (5), Ossining, NY def. Maria Shishkina (11), Bradenton, FL 6-3, 6-4
Victoria Rodriguez (2), Weston, FL def. Adeliya Zabirova, Pembroke Pines, FL 7-5, 6-1
Madison Bourguignon (8), Boynton Beach, FL def. Ellie Halbauer (12), Daniel Island, SC 6-4, 3-0 Ret.
Peggy Porter, Dallas, TX def. Maegan Manasse, Redondo Beach, CA 6-1, 6-2
Kimberly Yee, Las Vegas, NV def. Nicole Frenkel, Winchester, MA 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(6)
Mayo Hibi, Irvine, CA def. Spencer Liang, Potomac, MD 6-2, 6-4
Alejandra Cisneros Gomez (3), Mexico def. Ellyse Hamlin, Fairfield, CT 6-2, 2-6, 6-0
Christina Makarova (1), San Diego, CA def. Ines Vias, Germantown, MD 6-0, 6-4
Girls' 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Brooke Austin / Kimberly Yee def. Tornado Ali Black / Sandra Samir (3) 6-2, 6-1
Mayo Hibi / Denise Starr (7) def. Nicole Frenkel / Rianna Valdes (4) 6-3, 3-6, 12-10
Alejandra Cisneros Gomez / Victoria Rodriguez (1) def. Mingxiu DU / Johnnise Renaud 6-3, 2-6, 10-6
Jamie Loeb / Maegan Manasse def. Usue Arconada / Jessica Cortes (8) 6-4, 6-3
Boys' 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Kalman Boyd, Rancho Santa Fe, CA def. Robert Levine (5), Bedford, NY 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3
Kyle Seelig (12), Hatfield, PA def. Jean Thirouin (2), Houston, TX 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Jake Devine (4), Boca Raton, FL def. Alexander Lebedev, Island Park, NY 6-3, 6-0
Catalin Mateas (7), Braintree, MA def. William Blumberg (1), Greenwich, CT 6-4, 6-2
Boys' 16 Doubles (Quartefinals)
Chase Colton / Kyle Seelig (5) def. Michael Genender / James Wasserman 6-3, 3-6, 10-7
Taylor Fritz / Daniel Gealer (8) def. Hady Habib / Max Pham 6-1, 6-3
Grayson Broadus / Jean Thirouin (2) def. Jake Gabay / Alan Sweet (7) 6-3, 6-3
Emil Reinberg / Brian Tsao (6) def. Robert Levine / Evan Zhu (4) 7-5, 6-2
Girls' 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)
Caroline Dolehide (14), Hinsdale, IL def. Angela Kulikov, Sun Valley, CA 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Claire Liu, Thousand Oaks, CA def. Sydney Van Alphen, Laguna Beach, CA 6-4, 6-1
Ena Shibahara (13), Rancho Palos Verdes, CA def. Kylie McKenzie (7), Anthem, AZ 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Samantha Martinelli (12), Denver, CO def. Jada Robinson (2), Reisterstown, MD 6-4, 6-4
Girls' 16 Doubles (Quarterfinals)
Madison Appel / Rebecca Weissmann (1) def. Aliya Alenikov / Kalani Soli 6-4, 2-6, 10-3
Ena Shibahara / Savannah Slaysman def. Abigail Chiu / Madison Tedford 6-1, 6-1
Caroline Dolehide / Alexis Nelson (8) def. Marjorie Antohi / Rylie Cox 6-0, 6-0
Paulina Ferrari / Jada Hart (6) def. Alexa Corcoleotes / Vanessa Nommensen (2) 6-2, 6-4