reach Orange Bowl quarters
Arthur Kapetanakis and Esteban Camino | December 13, 2019
An action-packed Friday at the 2019 Orange Bowl saw many players take the court for two singles matches. After all was set and done, two Americans remained standing in the 18s semifinals: No. 5 seed Robin Montgomery and qualifier Maya Pitts.
In a marquee third-round matchup of rising American stars, 15-year-old Montgomery defeated Elvina Kalieva, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the Orange Bowl quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. Though the scoreline suggests a routine win, the No. 5 seed had to fight off a spirited challenge from her 16-year-old opponent.
“She’s a tough player,” said Montgomery. “There were lots of long deuce games, so it probably seemed closer than what the score says.”
One of those deuce games came as Montgomery served out the match; after saving a break point, she booked her quarterfinal ticket with an unreturned serve.ADVERTISEMENT
“That last game, I had some short balls where I missed. My mom was like, ‘It’s alright.’ I was like, ‘No, it’s not.’ But I was able to bounce back. I just focused on my breathing.”
Montgomery is now the lone remaining seed in the top half of the girls’ 18s draw. She could have faced world No. 1 Diane Parry in the quarters, but the Frenchwoman was a last-minute withdrawal. Instead, Montgomery will be the favorite when she faces Barbora Palicova of the Czech Republic, the junior world No. 113, for a semifinal spot. Nonetheless, the Washington, D.C., native is not taking anything for granted.
“For me, seeds don’t matter. They’re just a number. Anybody can come and take out a seed, and that’s why the top of the draw looks like that.”
Still, Montgomery’s strong play in South Florida makes her the clear pick to reach the final out of the top half. She has yet to drop a set in three matches, losing just 14 games in total. What’s working so well for the feisty teen?
“Just fight. Knowing that this is the last tournament of the year, you want to finish off on a strong note. With me, it’s just putting all emotions aside, staying positive.
“It would mean a lot [to win this tournament]. That would be a great way to end off in juniors. I’ll probably start playing pro and I’ll see what I can do. Winning here would stick with me for a long time.”
Pitts, of Los Angeles, also took the next step in her quest for the girls’ 18s singles title in dramatic fashion. After being down a set, she won six straight games in the second to tie the match before overcoming Mara Guth of Germany., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
“I lost the first set and then I was down 5-1 [in the second]... I just had to play my game like my coach had taught me,” said Pitts. “If I was going to lose, I had to lose playing the best that I possibly could, so I started stepping into the ball more, playing my game plan and playing a lot smarter.”
Pitts, who qualified into the main draw of the tournament, has now defeated seeded players back-to-back to book her spot in the quarterfinals. She previously dismissed No. 7 Victoria Jiminez Kasintseva in Round 2.
Americans Hibah Shaikh and Skyler Marie Grace Grishuk each fell in the their third round matches.
In the boys’ draw, the last two remaining Americans were eliminated from singles competition late this afternoon after winning their second-round matches earlier in the day. Dali Blanch matched the hard-hitting Spaniard Pedro Vives Marcos’ power but ultimately fell, 7-5, 3-6, 0-6. Meanwhile, last year’s boys’ 18s finalist Zane Khan was defeated by No. 5 seed Arthur Cazaux of France, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1.
In the opening round of the 18s doubles competitions, the top seeds in the boys’ draw escaped a match tiebreak to advance. In what was a close match throughut, Blanch and his Argentine partner Thiago Agustin Tirante overcame Francisco Llanes of Uruguay and Juan Sebastian Zabala Vargas of Ecuador, 6-2, 6-7, [11-9]. Meanwhile, the American girls’ tandem of Savannah Broadus and Kylie Collins, along with the U.S. pairing of Emma Jackson and Alexandra Yepifanova, also reached the next round.
16s semifinals set
It’s an all-American semifinal field in the girls’ 16s single competition, as Ashlyn Krueger, Vivian Ovrootsky, Clervie Ngounoue and Bridget Stammel all advanced on Friday. Stammel topped Alexis Blokhina, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, in one of the matches of the day, with the deciding tiebreak ending with a 7-5 score.
No. 2 seed Jack Anthrop and giant-killer Gabrielius Guzauskus both advanced to the boys’ 16s semis, and could face each other for the title with one more win each. After dismissing top seed Marko Andrejic in Round 1, Guzauskus bounced No. 5 Bruno Kuzuhara, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, in the quarters.
In doubles play, the Americans dominated the day with 12 of the 16 players playing in tomorrow’s semifinals representing the United States.
For complete results, draws, schedule and more, visit the official Orange Bowl website.
Previous 2019 Orange Bowl stories: