McEnroe disciple Jessica Golovin displays fire and finesse in upset of top seed in OB 16s
By Harvey Fialkov
, Sun Sentinel
6:51 p.m. EST, December 4, 2012
Fiery tennis great John McEnroe
was known for his rage for perfection and shotmaking, that included a wicked sliced backhand and delicate touch at the net.
So after watching unseeded Jessica Golovin question line calls and unleash self-critical soliloquies en route to toppling the top-seeded Johnnise Renaud 7-6 (0), 1-6, 6-3 in the Orange Bowl
International Tennis Championship Girls' 16s Tuesday, it made sense that she trains at McEnroe's tennis academy on Randall's Island in New York.
"I've always had that [fire] since I started playing,'' said Golovin, 15, who's American with Russian parents. "I have that in me. It's always great to have variety in girls tennis because most girls hit with a lot of power, so it's good to mix it up. People say it's like I'm chopping vegetables.''
Renaud, a lanky, left-hander with a laidback nature, trains on the slick, hard courts of C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines
where power rules. So when Golovin went to the "'junk" with sliced drop shots on the slow, clay courts of Veltri Tennis Center along with well-timed forays to the net, Renaud became tentative.
"This is only my second tournament on clay all year,'' said Renaud, 16. "It's abnormal to play someone with so much slice, but I got beat and have to adjust.''
Golovin also owns an excellent two-handed backhand, and that's how she sealed the seond-round upset on her third match point. As for McEnroe's legendary temper, Golovin's never heard of it, nor has she witnessed it.
In the Girls' 18s draw, a couple of precocious 14-year-olds advanced to the second round. Seventh-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia displayed the all-court form that earned her a Grade A title at last week's Eddie Herr (18s) tournament in Bradenton as she pounded a gimpy Tornado Ali Black of Boca Raton
, 6-1, 6-3.
"There's pressure,'' Konjuh said. "You won Eddie Herr and they're expecting you to do the same here. But you have to get used to it. I'm focusing on being the best I can.''
Black needed medical attention for a left knee injury.
Pint-sized dynamo Maria Shishkina, 14, who has been compared to WTA
glamour girl and four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova
for her looks and strokes since she left Kazakhstan to train in Florida seven years ago, cruised past Austrian Barbara Haas 6-4, 6-2.
Shishkina, who considers herself American, flexed her muscles early when a first serve snapped the center net strap in the first set. Although she nearly blew a 5-1 lead, Shishkina's relentless ground attack wore down her 16-year-old opponent, who was ranked 43rd or 139 spots higher than Mishkina.
"Age doesn't matter on the women's tour,'' Mishkina
said. "Everyone's a great player, you just do your best. If you don't believe in yourself you're not going to get anywhere.''