The seventh seed Katie Poluta dug deep to reach the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament quarterfinals, working hard for her 7-5 7-6 (4) second-round win over fellow South African Bianca Birkenstock in their second round clash in Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Tuesday.
Poluta joins second-round winners, tournament top seed Janet Koch and fellow South Africans Marli van Heerden and Louise-Mare Botes, the USA’s unseeded Rachel Papavasilopoulos, Great Britain’s Holly Thompson, India’s Rikeetha Pereira and Serbia’s Vanja Klaric.
The tournament’s fourth-seeded Huibre-Mare Botes was the only seed to fall in the second round, when she was overpowered 6-3 6-1 by the USA’s Rachel Papavasilopoulos, while her sister Louise-Mare Botes maintained national and family pride to beat the Netherlands’ Barbara Huyskes 6-3 6-4.
For Poluta, a tough, gritty 16-year-old who is based at the Atlantic Tennis Academy in Table View, it was sweet revenge because she lost to Birkenstock when they first met in East London some 18 months ago.
Poluta started off poorly, dropping serve in her opening but she remained unbowed and fought back bravely to take the set 7-5.
She stormed ahead 5-3 in the second set but then dropped serve and Birkenstock, who hails from KZN, was able to level at 5-5.
In subsequent games, both held serve and in the resultant tie-break Poluta proved the stronger of the two, and she was on her way to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.
In the doubles fixtures, seeded pairs 2-Vanja Klaric (Srb)/Rikeetha Pereira (Ind) and 1-Nicole Dzenga (Zim)/Marli van Heerden stayed on course to meet each other in the final.
In Monday’s action, the eighth-seeded Vanja Klaric survived a first-set scare to defeat Minette van Vreden 6-7(1) 6-0 6-1 in their opening round singles match.
Klaric, a Serbian national who has been based at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy at the North-West University of Potchefstroom for just over nine months, relied heavily on solid ground strokes to regain the initiative after the Bolander Van Vreden threatened to take the game away from her by winning the opening set.
Van Vreden’s all-court game forced Klaric to settle for a basic game in which the intention was merely to keep the ball in play. The two know each other’s game well since they met in the quarterfinals last week when Klaric scored a 6-1 6-1 runaway win.
“With Minette you can’t score easily because she’s equally good on both sides of the court,” said Klaric. “I realised after losing the first set that the best plan was to simply get the ball back to her, and wait for her to make errors.
“My ground strokes and serve started working well from the second set onwards, and then I knew it was all a matter on consistency if I had to recover from the first-set loss.
“When she served I made up my mind to simply get my returns in and that’s the way I managed to stay in the game in the last two sets.
“Minette’s not an easy opponent and if you don’t get on top of your game quick enough she doesn’t give you a chance to fight back.”
On the neighbouring court, Maxine Bateman of KwaZulu-Natal caused the upset of the day by defeating third seeded Zimbabwean Nicole Dzenga 6-4 7-5 in a fiercely-fought contest.
Bateman’s victory meant she went one step better than last week when she was a first-round loser courtesy of Turkey’s Mina Karamercan. For Dzenga, the defeat was a continuation of a slump that saw her fail to progress beyond last week’s first round.
Singles Second Round Results of the SAS Junior ITF 2 played at the University of Stellenbosch on Tuesday, 22 October 2013: 1-Janet Koch (RSA) bt Louise Ronaldson (GBR) 7-5 6-3 Rachel Papavasilopoulos (USA) bt 4-Huibre-Mare Botes (RSA) 6-3 6-1 Holly Thompson (GBR) bt Maxine Bateman (RSA) 7-5 6-2 7-Katie Poluta (RSA) bt Bianca Birkenstock (RSA) 7-5 7-6 (4) 5-Marli van Heerden (RSA) bt Olivia Horn (GBR) 6-0 6-1 8-Vanja Klaric (Srb) bt Nadine de Villiers (RSA) 6-2 7-5 6-Louise-Mare Botes (RSA) bt Barbara Huyskes (Ned) 6-3 6-4 2-Rikeetha Pereira (Ind) bt Juliane Schuckmann (Nam) 6-0 6-1 First Round on Monday, 21 October: 1-Janet Koch (RSA) bt Alana Smith (USA) 6-2 6-1 Rachel Papavasilopoulos (USA) bt Joane Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 6-0 6-1 Holly Thompson (GBR) bt Cindy Dorrington (RSA) 6-0 6-1 7-Katie Poluta (RSA) bt Nicole Petchey (GBR) 6-4 6-3 Barbara Huyskes (Ned) bt Danielle du Plooy (RSA) 6-0 6-1 Maxine Bateman (RSA) bt 3-Nicole Dzenga (Zim) 6-4 7-5 5-Marli van Heerden (RSA) bt Rouxanne Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 6-0 4-6 6-4 8-Vanja Klaric (Srb) bt Minette van Vreden (RSA) 6-7 (1) 6-0 6-1 Juliane Schuckmann (Nam) bt Chandre Janeke (RSA) 3-6 6-4 7-6 (3) Bianca Birkenstock (RSA) bt Eva Vedder (Ned) 7-5 6-4 4-Huibre-Mare Botes (RSA) bt Sian-Frances Crowder (GBR) 6-0 6-0 Nadine de Villiers (RSA) bt Jessica Bruyns (RSA) 6-1 6-1 6-Louise-Mare Botes (RSA) bt Lindsay Truscott (RSA) 6-1 6-2 Louise Ronaldson (GBR) bt Ciney Bekker (RSA) 7-5 6-0 2-Rikeetha Pereira (Ind) bt Lucy Stofberg (RSA) 6-1 6-0 Olivia Horn (GBR) bt Corin De Waal (RSA) 6-1 3-0 (De Waal retired pulled a leg muscle) Doubles: Rachel Papavasilopoulos (USA)/Holly Thompson (GBR) bt Maxine Bateman/Nicole Petchey (RSA) 6-3 6-2 3-Janet Koch (RSA)/Louise Ronaldson (GBR) bt Jessica Bruyns/Joane Janse van Rensbur (RSA) 6-0 6-0 4-Huibre-Mare Botes/Louise-Mare Botes (RSA) bt Sian-Frances Crowder (GBR)/Chandre Janeke (RSA) 6-1 6-2 Danielle du Plooy/Minette van Vreden (RSA) bt Juliane Schuckmann (Nam)/Lucy Stofberg (RSA) 7-6 (4) 6-4 Barbara Huyskes/Eva Vedder (Ned) bt Olivia Horn (GBR)/Jana-Mari Wolfaardt (RSA) 6-3 7-6 (4) 2-Vanja Klaric (Srb)/Rikeetha Pereira (Ind) bt Rouxanne Janse van Rensburg/Lindsay Truscott (RSA) 6-3 6-4 1-Nicole Dzenga (Zim)/Marli van Heerden (RSA) bt Ciney Bekker/Bianca Birkenstock (RSA) 6-4 6-0 Nadine de Villiers/Katie Poluta (RSA) bt Cindy Dorrington (RSA)/Kirsty Venter (GBR) 6-1 6-2
(With editing by gsport)