Only five girls previously have won the Girls’ 14s Junior Orange Bowl tennis title the year after winning the Girls’ 12s. If Abigail Desiatnikov falls short of becoming the sixth, it won’t be because of mental toughness.
With her serve weakening and high forehand getting more erratic in direct proportion to her right shoulder pain increasing, Desiatnikov fought off resilient Maria Tanesescu 6-3, 6-3 to reach Sunday’s semifinals of the Girls 14s at the University of Miami Schiff Tennis Center.
Desiatnikov also had a two-day old blister on her right hand that came open after the start of the second set. The shoulder started hurting her three days before the tournament.
“When I serve or hit that [high forehand], a sharp pain goes through my arm,” Desiatnikov said. “It’s really hard and I just block it out.”
Saturday made the diminutive 12-year-old 12 for 12 in Junior Orange Bowl matches.
Up 2-0 in the second set and with Tanescescu up to a racquet slam per game (earning some long looks from the chair umpire), Desiatnikov looked like a service game from a rout. That’s when her shoulder sent her serve south. A double fault-filled service break got Tanescescu back into the match. And Tanescescu’s high topspin shots put even more stress on Desiatnikov’s shoulder through a 10-minute game that brought Tanescescu to 2-2.
Each held her serve until Desiatnikov broke Tanescescu for a 5-3 lead. She held for the match, grabbing and massaging her right arm after every other point.
Desiatnikov now plays No. 2 seed Californian Claire Liu, also a gutsy winner, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 over Kylie McKenzie. Liu played a three-and-a-half hour three-setter Friday that ended at 5 p.m., then appeared to be fading against McKenzie in the third set at about the same time as Desiatnikov escaped Tanescescu. Instead, Liu fought back for a second consecutive three-set win.
The winner of that match will play the winner of No. 1 seed Marketa Vondrousova vs. Vanessa Wong. Vondruousova trounced Ashley Lahey 6-0, 6-1 while Wong upset No. 5 seed Kayla Day, 6-4, 7-5.
The Boys 12s No. 1 seed, Adam Neff, came off his three hour, 40-minute Friday match and had to face No. 5 seed Sebastian Grundtvig at 10 a.m. Saturday. Grundtvig pulled away in the final set, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. Grundtvig’s opponent Sunday will be No. 9 Juan Cerundolo, conqueror of No. 5 Alexander Zgirovsky 2-6, 7-6, 7-6. In the other Boys 12s semifinal, Wojciech Marek, who took out Mihailo Popovic 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, faces Nicolas Alvarez Varona, stuffer of Cannon Kingsley, 6-3, 6-1.
The No. 1 seed in the Girls 12s, Anastasiya Potapova, won 6-1, 6-2 against No. 9 Natasha Subhash. Potapova now faces No. 5 Xiyu Wang, who knocked out No. 3 Ekaterina Makarova, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. On the other half of the Girls 12s draw, Boca Raton’s Hurricane Tyra Black lost five games, one more than she has in her first four matches combined, in beating No. 5 Olga Danilovic 6-2, 6-3. Black faces Amanda Anisimova Sunday morning after Anisimova beat Thasaporn Naklo 7-6, 6-2.
Boys 14s No. 2 Miomir Kecmanovic gets Alex de Minaur in the semis after Kecmanovic beat Sam Riffice 6-4, 6-4 and de Minaur took out Max Stewart, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. Qualifier Axel Geller got to Sunday by beating Yshai Oliel, 6-4, 6-2. There, Geller will find Kyrylo Tsygura, who took out Alexei Popyrin, 6-2, 7-6.