PARIS – Eighth-seeded Mitchell Krueger of Aledo, Tex., population 1,726, defeated Max de Vroome of the Netherlands, 6-2, 6-1, to gain the semifinal round of the French Open junior boys championship on Thursday.
A second American, Noah Rubin, 16, of Bellmore, N.Y., was eliminated by fifth-seeded Filip Peliwo of Canada, 6-4, 6-1.
Krueger’s 66-minute victory, interrupted by a rain delay, was secured against a hard-serving foe whose ground strokes deserted him. The American hit not a single double fault or unforced error.
“He plays a lot of first-strike tennis,” Krueger said. “You got to kind of hurt him on the first ball or else he’ll take control.”
When Kreuger, 18, found de Vroom offering little resistance on the Texan’s serves, it allowed him to win those games easily and gave him strength “to give it as much as I could on the returns.” He broke his opponent’s serve six times.
Krueger suffered only a single hiccup serving. “Before the rain came, he had a good return game where he broke me,” he said. De Vroome slammed three returns at Krueger’s feet and came away with his only break point conversion.
“After that game I stepped it up and started hitting more first serves and was able to keep control,” said Krueger, whose small hometown is about 25 miles from Fort Worth.
In the stands, Krueger’s parents, Marla and Myron Krueger, snapped photos and applauded their son’s best shots. Fewer than two dozen people watched the match, played on distant Court 17.
Krueger said he is the top-ranked American among players who compete on the International Tennis Federation circuit for juniors. He has signed a letter of intent to play college tennis at Texas A&M, his father’s alma mater, but has not made a decision.
Asked if a victory at Roland Garros would turn him toward a professional career, he replied: “I’m just taking one match at a time.”
A key point of the match came in the sixth game of the first set. Krueger blocked a backhand volley past de Vroome and the Dutch player, his groundstrokes betraying him, settled into a pattern of defeat.
Krueger mounted a 40-love lead in the final game, but let up slightly, blasting a backhand service return wide, and letting de Vroome hit a winner up the middle.
On the third match point, Krueger kept the ball in play until de Vroome blasted a backhand into the net. Krueger glanced at his parents as he left the court, stepped through a gate, and headed for the locker room, a semifinalist at one of the four major junior international tennis championships.