Cinco de Mayo All Week Long For Mayo Hibi of @USTA USONP
What a week it has been for Mayo Hibi. The 17-year-old from Irvine, California is playing under the Japanese flag, but she’s every bit an American as I am. The 2013 Easter Bowl champ and USTA International Spring Champ won on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to clinch the US Open National Playoffs from New Haven.
When I interviewed her on Monday, she said “It feels great. I mean, I’m finally into the US Open. It’s always been a dream to get in.”
Yesterday, she won her first-ever US Open qualifying match, outlasting American Allie Kiick by a count of 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. It was a match that was nationally televised on CBS Sports Channel in prime time.
Today, she plays Anastasia Rodionova on Court 10 in the fourth match of the day. Could she upset Rodionova for Win Numero Cinco? Hibi has never played Anastasia before, but she did play her sister, Arina, in Las Vegas last year.
By the way, I learned to pronounce her name by remembering Cinco de Mayo. Whatever you do, DO NOT pronounce her name like the condiment.
Krueger and Kiick Complete Winning Runs at
USTA International Spring Championships
CARSON, Calif., (Sunday, April 8, 2012) – Mitchell Krueger and Allie Kiick recorded resounding Easter Sunday straight-set victories on the final day of the USTA International Spring Championships at the Home Depot Center.
The top-seeded 18-year-old Krueger of Aledo, Texas, needed just under two hours to beat 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-3, 6-4, in a very close, competitive and entertaining match in the boys’ 18s final.
The girls’ 18s final finished first between two 16-year-olds from Florida as No. 7-seeded Allie Kiick of Plantation, Fla., got off to a strong start and then finished off No. 3 Chalena Scholl of Pompano Beach, Fla., 6-0, 6-2.
Kozlov refused to go down without a fight, playing big on the crucial points and staving off four match points before Krueger served himself out of some trouble and converted for the victory in the important ITF Grade 1 junior event which brought together some of the world’s top-ranked junior players.
“He played some good points on those match points,” Krueger said. “The way he plays is really unique and very different. He plays very slowly and it’s easy to get into the trap of playing exactly the way he wants you to.”
Krueger continued: “I wasn’t feeling that I was hitting it all that cleanly today. He definitely makes you think because he plays such a different game. I don’t even know how to describe it; just lots of slices, lots of drop shots, lots of lobs. A lot of older guys who play him are going to come out tight because they’re not going to be able to hit out from the start. He doesn’t miss much. It was an interesting match.”
Kozlov felt like he was the victim of some tough line calls at crucial stages of the match, but didn’t make any excuses afterward. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I played well and didn’t expect to get this far. I had my chances. I had a chance to go up 3-0 and 5-2 on break points but couldn’t convert. I had nothing to lose. Win or lose it didn’t matter to me.”
Krueger was impressed with Kozlov, who he has seen him play but had never met in a match.
“He’s got incredible potential,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player so good at his age; except maybe Donald Young. I think he has a chance to do some of the things Donald has done. If he keeps going I think he has a great future.”
Kiick and Scholl renewed their rivalry from their days playing Florida section events after both started playing tennis. “We’ve played so many times,” Scholl said. “I can’t even remember how many times we’ve played each other.”
The tournament victory was Kiick’s first at a Grade 1-level ITF event. She beat Scholl in the final of the Amelia Island Pro Circuit tournament last October but lost to Scholl at the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Championships in Tulsa.
“It’s really exciting since this is one of my last junior tournaments,” said Kiick, who has been training at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., and is coached by Kathy Rinaldi, who was on site Sunday, and Troy Hahn. “I’ll play Easter Bowl and then the French Open and Wimbledon and Nationals in San Diego.”
“I’m going to be playing more pro events,” she added. “My goal is to be top 200 (WTA) by the end of the year.”
For final draws log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.
Boys’ 18 Singles (Final)
Mitchell Krueger (1) Aledo, TX def. Stefan Kozlov Pembroke Pines, FL 6-3, 6-4
Girls’ 18 Singles (Semifinals)
Allie Kiick (7) Plantation, FL def. Chalena Scholl (3) Pompano Beach, FL 6-0, 6-2