In a boys’ 18s match, 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., continued his success beating Dennis Uspensky of Atlantic Beach, N.Y, 6-4, 6-3, to move into the third round.
Kozlov, who advanced to the finals of Carson last week in the boys’ 18s, is hoping to continue his wave of momentum at the Easter Bowl. “Last week I played unreal and I’m feeling confident in my game right now and I hope to keep playing well,” Kozlov said.
Kozlov has already played in about a dozen tournaments in the 18s. At five-feet, seven-inches
, he admits it’s been intimidating playing against older teenagers but is looking forward to his next growth spurt.
“Whenever my opponents have a lot of power, I try to slow down their pace instead of playing at their speed,” Kozlov said. “When I get taller and stronger it’s going to help a lot on my serve and my shots and I’ll be able to put more spin on the ball.”
Kozlov, who trains at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., is working on specific areas of his game to do well against older players. “I’ve really been working on attacking the ball more, coming in, getting quick points, placing my serve and improving my movement on the court,” he said.
In the boys’ 14s, No. 14 seed William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., defeated No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz 6-1, 7-5, of Rancho Santa Fe., to advance to the quarterfinals.
Going into the match, Blumberg said his coach wanted him to be aggressive and take every ball on the rise. “I did a good job with that strategy in the first set and I was able to break him early,” Blumberg said. “In the second set, I was up 2-1 and I started being more defensive and he broke me to go up 5-4, but I was able to break back and go up 6-5 before breaking him in the end to win the match.”
Blumberg is also tough on himself and knows he has some work to do to achieve his goal of playing professionally some day. “I need to not slow down the pace and accelerate more on the ball so I can stay up on a player,” Blumberg said. “The main key for me to get better is staying aggressive.”
Former 14s Boys’ Finalist Battle It Out in 18s At 45th Annual USTA Easter Bowl Junior Spring Nationals