Madison Dillon's impressive run through the Hilton Head Bullfrog USTA Southern Section Designate came to an early conclusion Sunday, yet the performance by the confident 12-year-old Hilton Head Islander this weekend promises better things to come in the very near future.
Unseeded entering the talent-laden junior tennis event marking its seventh year on the island, Dillon captured three matches in the girls' 12-under division, including two consecutive over top-10 seeded players, before succumbing 6-4, 6-2 to No. 2 Gianna Pielet in the quarterfinals at Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort.
Dillon's run was the deepest among a handful of Hilton Head Island juniors competing in the annual event, which is hosted by the Van der Meer Tennis Academy and attracted 256 of the top junior players in the boys' and girls' 12-under and 14-under divisions in the Southeast.
Before falling to the talented Pielet in Sunday's quarterfinals, Dillon hadn't dropped a set in the tournament, her confidence growing with each victory. After besting ninth-seeded Jessica Largen 6-3, 6-1 late Saturday, Dillon faced Carly Briggs from Georgia early Sunday and took out the tournament's No. 5 seed with a dominating 6-1, 6-4 decision to complete her somewhat unexpected run to the quarters.
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"I felt like I played really well the past couple days," said 12-year-old Dillon, who will continue her play Monday in the tournament's consolation bracket at Shipyard Plantation. "I definitely played a lot better this weekend than my last tournament (two weeks ago) and I credit my coach for that."
With her coach Tammy Zawacki of Wexford Plantation looking on, Dillon continued her strong play in the first set against fellow South Carolinian Pielet but struggled to hold serve during the middle of the match.
In fact with the match still tight, Pielet broke Dillon three consecutive times from late in the first set to early in the second to take control of the match.
To her credit, Dillon tried to shake things up by coming to the net early and often in the second set but time and again Pielet answered with pinpoint passing shots from the baseline to keep control of the match.
"She played very well and deserves credit," said Dillon, who attends Hilton Head Christian Academy.
While Dillon's Hilton Head Bullfrog run ended in the quarterfinals, Sunday began much differently as the islander started off aggressively in her round of 16 match against Briggs, going for and executing shot after shot and forcing multiple errors in her dominating 6-1 opening set.
After a similar start to the second set where Dillon went out to a 4-2 lead, things got a bit dicey as Briggs come up with a key break of serve and subsequent service hold that leveled the issue at 4-4. Facing the first adversity of the match, Dillon responded by holding serve to earn a 5-4 margin and then ended the match by breaking Briggs in the following game.
"I really went for my shots in the first set," Dillon said. "She put more pressure on me in the second set but I managed to respond."
Albeit disappointed in the quarterfinal loss to Pielet, Dillon was quick to put the past two days of the Hilton Head Bullfrog in perspective as she looks forward to a summer full of competition equal to that of this weekend's talented field. Three victories, two over ranked opponents, and a strong showing in defeat is enough to leave the talented 12-year-old eager for more.
"This weekend really gives me a lot of confidence going forward," Dillon said.
The Hilton Head Bullfrog continues today with semifinals and finals in all four divisions as well as consolation matches.
Bullfrog USTA Southern Section Designate
At Hilton Head Island
Boys' 12 Singles
Round of 16
Maxwell Giddens (1) Sylacauga, Ala. def. Valentin Stelea Atlanta, Ga. 6-1; 6-0
Joshua Raab (5) Woodstock, Ga. def. Huntley Allen (9) Winston Salem, N.C. 7-6(3); 3-0 Ret (inj)
Brandon McKinney (3) Atlanta, Ga. def. Campbell Wildrick (9) Spartanburg 6-2; 6-2
Jordan McClure (5) Dalton, Ga. def. Anuraag Govindarajan (9) Simpsonville 6-2; 6-4
Andres Martin (9) Flowery Branch, Ga. def. Jack Wylly (5) Savannah, Ga. 6-2; 6-2
Jerry Wang (4) Fayetteville, N.C. def. Daniel Dunac (9) Douglasville, Ga. 6-0; 6-1
Keshav Chopra (5) Marietta, Ga. def. Suhas Krishnan (9) Johns Creek, Ga. 6-1; 6-1
Georgi Mavrodiev (2) Norcross, Ga. def. Justin Waldman (9) Acworth, Ga. 6-2; 6-1
Georgi Mavrodiev (2) Norcross, Ga. def. Keshav Chopra (5) Marietta, Ga. 6-3; 6-3
Maxwell Giddens (1) Sylacauga, Ala. def. Joshua Raab (5) Woodstock, Ga. 6-2; 6-1
Brandon McKinney (3) Atlanta, Ga. def. Jordan McClure (5) Dalton, Ga. 6-0; 6-0
Jerry Wang (4) Fayetteville, N.C. def. Andres Martin (9) Flowery Branch, Ga. 6-3; 6-3
Boys' 14 Singles
Round of 16
Jared Pratt (2) Daniel Island def. Earl Navarro Charleston 6-2; 2-6; 6-0
Brandon Freestone (5) Roswell, Ga. def. Jack Sandlin Wrightsville Beach, N.C. 7-5; 6-2
Benjamin Wayand (9) Cary, N.C. def. Chambers Easterling (3) Spartanburg 3-6; 6-3; 6-1
Sean Nguyen Columbia, SC def. Ryan Roegner Asheville, N.C. 6-4; 7-5
Andrei Duarte (9) Marietta, Ga. def. Ga.vin Davis Florence, Ala. 6-3; 6-4
John David Shealy (4) Tuscaloosa, Ala. def. Alex McNeel Marietta, Ga. 2-6; 6-4; 6-2
Thomas Loaiza (5) Knoxville, Tenn. def. Harvey Maughan (9) Suwanee, Ga. 6-2; 6-4
Jack Sorel (1) Alpharetta, Ga. def. Andrew Redding Concord, N.C. 6-3; 6-2
Jared Pratt (2) Daniel Island def. Thomas Loaiza (5) Knoxville, Tenn. 6-3; 6-2
John David Shealy (4) Tuscaloosa, Ala. def. Andrei Duarte (9) Marietta, Ga. 6-1; 6-2
Jack Sorel (1) Alpharetta, Ga. def. Brandon Freestone (5) Roswell, Ga. 6-4; 6-2
Benjamin Wayand (9) Cary, N.C. def. Sean Nguyen Columbia 7-6(5); 6-0
Girls' 12 Singles
Round of 16
Chloe Beck (5) Watkinsville, Ga. def. Avani Arora Atlanta, Ga. 6-0; 6-0
Gianna Pielet (2) Mount Pleasant, SC def. Anna Mitchell (9) Alpharetta, Ga. 7-6(3); 6-4
AnneMarie Hiser (5) Acworth, Ga. def. Carolyn Aansari (9) Greensboro, N.C. 6-2; 6-3
Abigail Forbes (4) Raleigh, N.C. def. Margaret White (9) Birmingham, Ala. 6-1; 6-2
Marium Raza (9) Savannah, Ga. def. Kate Gray (5) Kennesaw, Ga. 6-4; 7-5
Elise Mills (9) Prosperity def. Mai Nirundorn (1) Louisville, KY 4-6; 6-2; 6-1
Maggie Cubitt (3) Spartanburg def. Maddie McKee (9) Jonesboro, Ark. 6-4; 6-2
Madison Dillon Hilton Head Island def. Carly Briggs (5) Calhoun, Ga. 6-1; 6-4
Elise Mills (9) Prosperity def. Marium Raza (9) Savannah, Ga. 6-3; 6-0
Chloe Beck (5) Watkinsville, Ga. def. Maggie Cubitt (3) Spartanburg 6-3; 6-2
Abigail Forbes (4) Raleigh, N.C. def. AnneMarie Hiser (5) Acworth, Ga. 6-4; 6-3
Gianna Pielet (2) Mount Pleasant def. Madison Dillon Hilton Head Island 6-4; 6-2
Girls' 14 Singles
Round of 16
Yekaterina Alferova (9) Marietta, Ga. def. Lauren Gish Mooresville, N.C. 7-5; 6-0
McCartney Kessler (2) Calhoun, Ga. def. Maria Thibault (9) Norcross, Ga. 6-4; 6-0
Vanessa Streng Duluth, Ga. def. Peyton Pesavento (5) Advance, N.C. 6-4; 4-6; 6-3
Lindsay Song (4) Birmingham, Ala. def. MaryJo Pidgeon Douglasville, Ga. 6-1; 6-1
Sophia Suri (5) Kennesaw, Ga. def. Abigail Markel (9) Charlotte, N.C. 3-6; 6-3 Ret (inj)
Sophia Patel (3) Cary, N.C. def. Katie LaFrance (9) Little Rock, Ark. 6-1; 6-1
Somer Henry (1) Franklin, Tenn. def. Katherine Earnhardt (9) Concord, N.C. 6-2; 6-0
Sabina Grigorian (5) Macon, Ga. def. Stephanie Pitts Crestwood, KY 6-2; 6-3
Vanessa Streng Duluth, Ga. def. McCartney Kessler (2) Calhoun, Ga. 6-4; 6-0
Somer Henry (1) Franklin, Tenn. def. Yekaterina Alferova (9) Marietta, Ga. 6-1; 6-2
Sophia Patel (3) Cary, N.C. def. Sabina Grigorian (5) Macon, Ga. 6-3; 6-1
Lindsay Song (4) Birmingham, Ala. def. Sophia Suri (5) Kennesaw, GA 6-3; 6-2