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Day 6 - USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 12 Spring National Championships

April 14, 2008 10:03 AM

Day 6—Semifinals of Nationals is bittersweet for Baker

By Marlena Hall

Delray Beach, Fla., April 11, 2008 — As the top seed in the Sea Island presents USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 Spring National Championships hosted by the City of Delray Beach (April 6-12, 2008), Baker Newman (1) (Miami, Florida) slaved under the scorching sun to make the Boys' 12 Nationals "Newman's Own". After basting five opponents in the earlier rounds to get to the semifinals of the draw, Baker prepared to play Day 5 "Player of the Day" and the tournament's #3 seed, Grayson Goldin (3) (Bradenton, FL). As if playing against a top player was difficult enough, he was also playing against his respected doubles partner (who he had to play with following his morning singles match). But it wasn't all smooth-sailing in Delray Beach for Newman, he had lost 28 games in 5 matches until meeting Goldin in the Gauntlet.

Goldin must have come in with the Midas touch as he had lost just 9 games in 5 matches. To be fair, Newman had to play 3 seeds before entering the semis, whereas Goldin had played just 1 seed. Both had never dropped a set, and they hadn't played each other in a little over a year (with Goldin as the victor). Neither players, parents, coaches, nor spectators expected the kind of match witnessed on the chair-umpired court. Points were contested, emotions were emanated, cuticles were gnawed and outcomes were unpredictable as both players fought until the finish. With a set a piece, the third and final set was entirely demonstrative of which player possessed a greater degree of mental and physical strength. Unfortunately for the #1 seed, Baker thymed out. With a 6-7, 6-0, 6-3 win, Goldin Grayson graced his way into the Sunday finals playing Daniel Kerznerman (2) (Brooklyn, NY) at 11:00 am tomorrow morning (Sunday, April 12, 2008).

Hesitant to bombard Baker, I asked his brother his thoughts on how the match went. "I don't think Baker was as full of physical energy as he was in the first set," said older bro, Trevor Newman. The youngest of his equally top-tennis playing siblings (Spencer, 14 and Trevor, 16), Baker has a gifted and supportive entourage. Training at Bill Clark's Academy, the prospect of excellence is great so long as he allows himself to kneed a deflated spirit and churn himself into a new man. To the red-headed fire-engine who can, we'd like to satisfy our indulgence by having Baker Newman, as our Day 6 Boys "Player of the Day!"
 
How does one define the university's sought after "well-rounded individual"? Look no further than Jessica Ho (Wexford, Pennsylvania). Adept in 4 instruments, outstanding in her scholastic studies and a consolation finalist, Ho has raked her way through an array of fields. This morning, she dropped the first set—4-6—to 9-year-old prodigy, Sophia Kenin (Pembroke Pines, FL)

"I [Jessica] was really nervous the first few games," admitted the mature 11-year-old. "She's a really tough player and I respect her game a lot, but there were some bad line calls on her part that threw me off my game a little." Ho didn't take too long to harbor her nerves and bounced back to capture the second set, 6-2. "I was trying to attack her serve and move the ball around until I got a short ball," said Ho. But Jessica has kept an even-tempo while managing a lot on her plate; she's missed 7 days of school and has to make up octaves of time on the piano bench. "I like to think long-term," answered Ho when asked about her future tennis aspirations. "I'd like to go professional, of course, but if I don't make it, I'd like to play college tennis." An intellectual comment from the little Beethoven, and for the strength of her mind and deep bellow in her tactful play, we'd like to croon Jessica Ho with our own Sonata as the Day 6 Girls "Player of the Day!"

A USTA National Championship

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