Montgomery leads U.S. charge at rainy Orange Bowl

Arthur Kapetanakis | December 13, 2019

PLANTATION, Fla. – Friday was slated as quarterfinal day in the boys’ and girls’ 18s singles draws at the 2019 Orange Bowl. Instead, Day 5 will begin with the completion of Round 2.


Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the 2019 Orange Bowl, with rain heavily impacting play on both Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing for less than six hours of stop-and-start play across what would have been two action-packed days.


American No. 5 seed Robin Montgomery was one of the eight players (across the 18s and 16s divisions) to escape with a win on Tuesday, before the initial rains came.


“It was definitely clutch,” she said of the early finish. “It would have been so bad if I didn’t close it out before the rain. It would have been definitely mentally hard to get back into it, especially now that it’s raining again.”


Her next opponent, Elvina Kalieva, also managed to book her third-round ticket early with a straight-sets victory, setting up a marquee Round 3 meeting between the compatriots.


“It’s going to be an interesting match. We’re both good players, two top American girls,” Montgomery (pictured above) previewed. “It will come down to who comes out and plays better.”


Joining them in Round 3 are Maya Pitts and Skyler Marie Grace Grishuk. Pitts took out No. 6 seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, 7-5, 6-4, while Grishuk bounced No. 13 Yeon Woo Ku, 6-3, 6-3. 


Other Americans still locked in to-be-completed Round 2 tussles are No. 3 seed Alexandra Yepifanova, Hibah Shaikh, qualifier Sophia Fornaris, wild card Eleana Yu and junior world No. 99 Emma Jackson.


While no U.S. boys have secured their place in Round 3 yet, six are still alive entering Friday.


No. 2 seed Martin Damm will look to fight out of a one-set hole against France’s Lilian Marmousez, while No. 12 seed (and 2018 finalist) Zane Khan and No. 16 seed Dali Blanch both lead in their respective second-round matches. 


“It’s tough,” Damm said of the rain delays. "But it is what it is. I just try to prepare the same way that I would if it was sunny. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about it.”


JC Roddick (nephew of former world No. 1 Andy Roddick), Blaise Bicknell (a University of Florida freshman) and wild card Alex Finkelstein are also in the midst of Round 2 contests that are scheduled to finish Friday morning.


There is more clarity in the 16s singles draws, where the quarterfinals are set in both the girls’ and boys’ competitions. Seven of the eight girls’ quarterfinalists are American, including No. 13 seed Vivian Ovrootsky and No. 14 Clervie Ngounoue (who recently won the WTA Future Stars 14s title in Shenzhen, China). They are joined by Ashlyn Krueger, Gracie Epps, Midori Castillo Meza, Alexis Blokhina and Bridget Stammel. 


Krueger took out top-seeded American Rebecca Lynn, 6-3, 6-3, in Round 3, while Epps, whose supportive parents were previously profiled on, upset No. 5 seed Chelsea Fontenel of Switzerland, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.


Making her debut at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Epps credited her attitude and determination for helping her grind out the three-set upset on Wednesday.


“It’s definitely a big win for me,” she reflected.  “I haven’t knocked out any seeds recently, but I’m coming back strong for this tournament. I played well, and it was a good match overall.”


The 15-year-old made the most of Tuesday’s rain-shortened day, relaxing with some movies in her hotel room. 


“I binge-watched three Hallmark movies in a row,” she said with a laugh. “Hallmark movies calm me. So I just watched a ton of those, and I got my mind in a good place.”


In the boys’ 16s draw, four Americans are through to the last eight: No. 2 seed Jack Anthrop, No. 5 Bruno Kuzuhara, wild card Gabrielius Guzauskas and Daniel Cohen. Guzauskas took out Austrian No. 1 seed Marko Andrejic in Round 1, while Cohen dismissed Nicholas Godsick, son of four-time Orange Bowl champ Mary Joe Fernandez, in Round 3.


All four doubles draws are stalled in Round 2, with rain preventing any doubles play on Tuesday and Wednesday.


For complete results, draws, schedule and more, visit the official Orange Bowl website.


Previous 2019 Orange Bowl stories:

Former champs Mary Joe Fernandez, Ivan Lendl in attendance as Orange Bowl gets underway 

Yepifanova, Damm highlight Orange Bowl field

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