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DODEA-Europe tennis, Day 1

Top girls seeds struggle, but still alive in tourney

Ramstein's Cami Carswell returns a shot at the net from ISB's Emilie God in a second-round singles match at the DODEA-Europe tennis championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Carswell won 6-1, 6-2. She, American Overseas School of Rome's Kaya Rand and ISB's Julia Shchukina won all their matches in opening day.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 27, 2016

WIESBADEN, Germany — In a change from recent years in which elite players eased through pool play while hardly dropping a game, the top seed in each girls’ singles pools tasted defeat Thursday on the first day of DODEA’s European tennis championships.

Emilie God of the International School of Brussels and Kiki Sibilla of Vicenza lost to Cami Carswell of Ramstein and Kaya Rand of the American Overseas School of Rome, respectively, at Hochheim. Both God and Sibilla can still advance into the semifinals, however, with the top two finishers in each pool facing off Friday afternoon for a spot in Saturday’s finals.

Carswell, a junior in her third year competing at Europeans, said she surprised herself with her success and said the nature of the competition helped her raise her game.

“In the beginning of the matches I saw that I was ranked number 5, so I thought that everyone was going to be way better than me, but then I started playing and realized that I was playing much better than usual,” she said. “My shots were more consistent than they usually are, and I really like the atmosphere of Euros, I've played here three years so it feels good to be back.”

Joining Carswell in having perfect 3-0 records on the day were Rand and ISB’s Julia Shchukina, who will face off Friday morning at Medenbach. Sibilla, God, and Stuttgart’s Kendall Smith all remain in contention with two wins each Thursday.

On the boys’ side, life was smoother for top seeds, with Italian schools dominating proceedings thus far. Marymount’s Mathias Mingzazinni was dominant in two early wins but found Florence’s Francesco Londono a tough out before overcoming him in two sets.

Mingzazinni is the top overall boys’ seed, and another Italian school, American Overseas School of Rome, boasts the other – last year’s runner-up Lin Ting. Ting finished his day a perfect 3-0 as well, including a 6-4, 7-6 win over ISB’s Felix Selvik, whose brother Fabian defeated him in the finals last year.

Ting, a senior playing in his final European tennis championships, said he was hoping to build on his strong first day.

“I need to reflect on what I’ve done today and to realize what mistakes I made and then tomorrow and Saturday hopefully I'll pick that up,” Ting said.

Ting and Mingzazinni were the only perfect performers in Thursday’s matches, so the final two spots in the semifinals will come down to two from a field of Londono, Selvik, Kaiserslautern’s Henri Butler, Stuttgart’s Bradley Russell, Naples’ John Sullivan, and Wiesbaden’s Keegan Harrison, a senior in his first European championships.

“It's a good experience and I like that coaches can get into the match and the whole team atmosphere of the championships,” Harrison said. “I need to make sure I keep playing my game (tomorrow).”

In doubles play, top seeds played as expected, with especially strong performances from ISB, whose three teams (two boys’ and one girls’) won all seven of their matches, only dropping one set in the process.

On the boys’ side, ISB, Ramstein and AOSR’s senior team remain undefeated, in prime position for the next round. With 16 teams, the boys’ doubles is highly-competitive. One pool play match remains to be played Friday morning, with the top two teams in each of four pools advancing advance to the quarterfinals.

There’s still a lot to play for in girls’ doubles, which features 14 teams, including two from Naples and Kaiserslautern. Four rounds were played Thursday, with more scheduled for Friday before Saturday’s semifinals and final matchups. ISB and Ramstein look to be the teams to beat, with each going undefeated, though Marymount gave Ramstein a close run and look to be a threat as well.

Stuttgart’s duo of sophomore Natasha Krueglis and junior Hannah Cahill likely did the most running of any team, going the full three sets, including a tiebreaker, in two of their matches, something Krueglis attributed to slow starts.

“I think that we always have to get into the mindset first, I think that’s the hardest part of tennis. Sometimes we'll lose our first set because we're still trying to concentrate, to get ourselves focused, move our feet, et cetera, and then once we move on we remember what we practiced every day and get better.”

Stoutamire.dan@stripes.com

Kaiserslautern's Henri Butler returns a shot from Stuttgart's Bradley Russel in opening day action at the DODEA-Europe tennis championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Butler won 6-1, 6-2.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

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