First, Liam Caruana was overmatched. Then Sam Riffice was.
The 11th-seeded Caruana, a resident of Austin, Texas, who recently began playing for his native Italy, beat the fourth-seeded Riffice, from the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 today for the boys 18 singles title in the USTA International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif.
Caruana trailed 1-5 in the first set, which he attributed to nerves, and took a medical timeout at 2-5.
“Earlier in the tournament, I strained my (abdominal) muscle, so I’ve
carried that throughout the tournament,” Caruana, 18, said on usta.com. “It wasn’t
enough to default, but it hurt when I was serving. After that medical
timeout, I told myself to play loose and free because, if not, I was
just getting destroyed.”
Instead, Riffice got destroyed.
“I don’t think there was much I could have done to beat him today,” said the 17-year-old Riffice, ranked No. 1 nationally in the 18s. “I think he just started slow and picked up his game. There was
a lot I could have done better to make it closer. I didn’t play as
offensive as I would have liked, and he was dictating the points. I
didn’t get to pressure him much, and my balls didn’t have a lot on them.
“He mixed up the pace a lot, and he hit a lot of different shots and didn’t give me the same ball too many times in a row.”
Second-seeded Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., won the girls 18 singles title. The 16-year-old left-hander topped fifth-seeded Claire Liu, 15, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in just under three hours. Liu led 6-4, 2-0.
In the prestigious Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif., third-seeded Ryder Jackson of Nicasio in the San Francisco Bay Area, Aidan Mayo of Roseville and Karl Lee of Los Altos reached the round of 16 in the boys 14s.
Top-seeded Stefan Leustian of Mather lost to Ronald Hohmann of Oyster Bay, N.Y., 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the boys 14 round of 32.
India Houghton of Tiburon advanced to the round of 16 in the girls 14s.
The Easter Bowl boys and girls 18s and 16s begin Monday.