Not all things run smoothly at all times and the organisers had to admit to a blunder in the US Open Boys Draw that resulted in amendment to the seedings that affected five matches in the schedule.
I wasn’t serving too well that second set, but I’m happy I was able to fight back and win it in the tiebreak Martin Damm
As a result, play on opening day of the US Open Junior Championships was reduced from the usual 28 – 30 to just 22 matches.
Emilio Nava, who should have been seeded No 8, was not seeded, so when his seeding was corrected, the previous No 16 seed, Flavio Cobolli of Italy, was bumped out of the seeding and inserted in Nava’s previous place in the draw, which was against top seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan.
Four other matches were also affected, with those boys playing different opponents from those they had been drawn to play in the first draw.
Unaffected by the confusion was Britain’s Arthur Fery, who came through a tough three-setter against American wild card Dali Blanch, 4-6 7-5 6-3.
Fery’s next opponent is another American, Long Island native Cannon Kingsley, who prevailed in an even tighter contest against Wojciech Marek of Poland, advancing with a 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 6-4 victory in 2 hours, 40 minutes.
A mere 24 hours after losing in the second round of men’s doubles, as part of the youngest team to ever win a doubles match at the US Open in the Open era, 15-year-old American Martin Damm was back on court for his first round in the juniors.
Seeded 3 in the boys, Damm dispatched Stijn Pel from the Netherlands’ in two sets, 6-1 7-6.
In the first set, Damm won a remarkable 10 of 11 points on first serve, while Pel converted just 1 of his 9 break-point opportunities in the match and made just 46 percent of his first serves.
Damm, the son of former tennis player Martin Damm, received a wild card into the 2018 junior tournament and lost in the first round but this year is favoured to go way further.
In the rankings Damm senior reached No 5 in doubles and No 42 in singles before he ended his career at the 2011 US Open after capturing 40 doubles titles, including winning the 2006 US Open with Leander Paes of India.
He is one of 3 coaches his son currently works with Damm junior at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“He’s a father and tennis player as well, but we’re not on the court every single day like some fathers are with their kids,” Damm revealed.
“There’s no hate in our relationship and we don’t get into fights on the court because he’s played the sport and he knows that parents can affect the children playing the sport.”
Damm stretches to a lanky 6 ft, 6 1/2 inches and uses his height to his advantage.
The big-serving lefty posted a solid start on Sunday, running through the first set, jumping out to a 5-0 lead, but in the second set had to recoup a service break before closing out a straight-set victory.
“In the second set I started off pretty low energy and he lifted his game,” Damm said. “I wasn’t serving too well that second set, but I’m happy I was able to fight back and win it in the tiebreak.”
It was rather different to last week’s experience for the American teen, who got a taste of what big-time tennis is all about.
Damm and 16-year-old fellow American Toby Kodat, wild-carded into the men’s doubles for winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships title earlier in the summer, became the youngest men’s team to win a US Open match in the Open Era.
They made good value of that reward by posting a first career main draw victory, defeating fellow Americans Mitchell Krueger and Tim Smyczek, 7-6(6) 7-5, but their dream run ended in a 6-2 7-5 second-round loss to 12th seeded Germans Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, the reigning Roland Garros doubles champions.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve had on a tennis court so far,” Damm said. “We went out in the first-round to play a night match at the US Open, which is our home Slam, and we were very happy to get that win.
“We got to go to the men’s locker-room and hang out with the pros like [Rafael] Nadal and [Nick] Kyrgios,” he added. “We were practicing next to them. It for sure felt more like a real tournament because now [in the juniors] we are separated from the real pros.”
Damm was born in Florida, but has been brought up with a strong Czech influence, the native country of his parents.
“For sure, there’s a part of me that is Czech,” Damm said. “We go there every year. I’d say I’m about half and half.
“Where I live in Bradenton there’s nothing much but beach. Prague is one the nicest cities I’ve been and I like a city vibe because I’m not much of a beach guy.”
Otherwise, it was not a great Day 1 for Americans, with Alexander Bernard, Tyler Zink, Ronald Hohmann, Dali Blanch, Eliott Spizzirri and Ronan Jachuck all losing to their first-round opponents.
Jachuck frustrated the Argentine No 5 seed, Thiago Agustin Tirante, in the early stages of the match and even claimed the first set before falling in three, 4-6 6-2 6-3.
In the Girls Singles, the Americans fared slightly better than the boys, with No 1 seed Emma Navarro leading the charge by rolling past Hong Yi Cody Wong, dropping just 3 games, 6-0, 6-3.
Navarro, who has committed to Virginia to play college tennis, won the first set in a lightning-fast 22 minutes.
top seed Emma Navarro had a routine looking 6-0 6-3 win over Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong, but the second set took 48 minutes, with the 6th and 7th games extending to multiple deuces.
“Usually you don’t have a [elapsed time] clock on the court, you can’t see it, but here [on Court 5] the clock was basically right behind my opponent,” Navarro said. “I saw it at 45 minutes and then I saw it at an hour and one minute, and we were in the same game. I thought what’s going on here?”
Navarro, who reached the final of the USTA National 18s Championships in San Diego last month, received a wild card into the US Open qualifying, and although she has played WTA competition before, she said she learned a lot from her 6-1 6-1 loss to top qualifying seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.
“It was a good experience, obviously a tough first round,” said Navarro. “She was tough, but it was definitely a good experience to go there and play a woman like there.
“It was definitely a different speed than juniors, a different pace. I see it in practice, but not as much as tournaments.
“It exposed what I need to work on, which is very good for me. I’m always looking for things I can improve.”
While Navarro’s US Open qualifying match could be described as a learning experience, for 15-year-old wild card Katrina Scott, her performance there nearly 2 weeks ago was a confidence builder.
Scott won her first round match, against Great Britain’s Katie Swan, before falling to Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, who went on to qualify and beat former champion Sloane Stephens in the first round of the main draw.
Scott had already put up some impressive results on the hard courts, taking top qualifying seed Timea Babos of Hungary to 3 sets at the San Jose WTA Premier event in July, and reaching the semi-finals of the USTA National 18s in August.
“San Jose was an amazing experience and I played one of the best matches of my life,” said the Southern Californian, who lost to Navarro in the Wimbledon Junior Championships third round after qualifying there.
“Unfortunately, I lost. But it was great, because it was the first pro tournament where I saw all the big players – Venus, Svitolina – and it was amazing just to be next to them.
“It helped me build my confidence, because I came out a little nervous, but then I realised to just swing free and I played amazing. It helped me going into San Diego and going into qualifying here. It gave me a lot of confidence.”
On Sunday, against No 10 seed Alina Charaeva of Russia, Scott trailed throughout most of the first set, but saved a set point serving at 3-5 and went on to take the next 4 games.
The 15-year-old hit 6 aces en route to upsetting the Russian, 7-5, 6-3.
“My game plan was to stay steady and attack the forehand,” Scott said. “At first she was hitting very good shots – her backhand is very solid, she moves the ball around very well – and I realised I had to neutralise her. Eventually the errors came.
“In the second set, I was serving very well, I got a lot of free points on my serve and I was a little more aggressive and able to swing out more and that helped a lot.”
While Scott had her success at Wimbledon to help her in New York, Allura Zamarripa was not only playing in her first junior slam, but making her first trip to New York.
None of that proved overwhelming for the 17-year-old left-hander from the Napa Valley area of California, who defeated Antonia Samudio of Colombia 6-0 6-2.
“It was pretty exciting, but I was really nervous actually,” Zamarripa said. “I didn’t get nervous until about five minutes before the match, but everything just came over me.
“I was always aware of it, with the ball boys and everything, but I want to say it was after the first game, I felt pretty comfortable.”
Although Zamarripa has not played many ITF Junior Circuit events, she had played Samudio in doubles at the $15K tournament in Bogota where Zamarripa swept the titles last December.
“I think she was kind of inconsistent today, but usually she has hard strokes, plays bang-bang tennis, so I was just trying to find a rhythm,” Zamarripa said. “I played her in doubles and that was a really competitive match, lots of ups and downs, so I knew she hit very hard and could move on clay.”
Zamarripa, who lost to Navarro in the round of 16 in San Diego, said she found out about the wild card about 5 days before she had to leave for her first trip to New York.
“I’m from a small town (Saint Helena) of about 5,000 people and there’s millions of people here,” Zamarripa said. “So many people walking on the streets at like 8:30 at night. But I love it here. So many people, so much to do, it’s been a lot of fun. A ton of energy.”
Third seed Alexa Noel, this year’s Wimbledon girls’ runner-up, is also into Round 2 with a 6-0 5-7 7-5 victory over Latvia’s Darja Semenistaja, while No 5 seed Zheng Qinwen of China defeated India Houghton of USA, 6-3 6-4.
In addition to Charaeva, another seeded player to lose was No 11 seed Mananchaya Sawangkaew, who fell to Russia’s Daria Frayman in three sets, 1-6 6-2 6-3.