Photo: Susan MullaneBelinda Bencic (SUI)
15-year-old Belinda Bencic, the 2012 Junior US Open doubles runner-up, is our featured player for September.
Following her run to the Junior US Open doubles final Bencic had a week away from tennis and returned in Egypt for two ITF Pro Circuit tournaments being held at the Jolie Ville Golf Resort in Sharm El Sheikh.
Unseeded for her first appearance on the ITF Pro Circuit since reaching the second round of qualifying in Pelham, USA back in April, the 15-year old Swiss Fed Cup player was handed a tough opening round having been drawn to face the top seed from China, Jia-Jing Lu.
Bencic, however, was not fazed by the draw handed to her and put in an inspired display to produce a huge shock, restricting the number one seed to just three games in a 61 62 win. Two qualifiers were then seen off in the next two rounds including a close 64 75 quarterfinal win, a win which saw her reach a career first semifinal on the ITF Pro Circuit.
Her semifinal opponent was Barbara Haas from Austria who was seeded fourth. Proving that seeding positions mean nothing to her, Bencic was again ruthless in eliminating another of the top seeds with the loss of just two games, 62 60.
Bencic’s performances against the first and fourth seeded players which had seen her lose only five games would not have gone unnoticed by Oman’s Fatma Al Nabhani. Al Nabhani was seeded second and was to be her opponent in the title match.
The first set ended 63 to the young Swiss player and another seeded scalp looked to be coming her way in quick fashion. Al Nabhani though put up more resistance in the second set but ultimately was unable to prevent the teenager from claiming her career first ITF Pro Circuit singles title with a 7-4 tiebreak win.
Bencic also secured the doubles title at this event. Partnering Frenchwoman Lou Brouleau, 17, for the first time, the teenagers took the title with a 76(3) 36 [10-6] triumph over Olga Brozda and Ganna Piven from Poland and Ukraine respectively.
A second singles title was soon to follow for Bencic at this same venue which was staging back-to-back tournaments this month.
Again unseeded, Bencic survived an early scare when taken to three sets in the first round by a lucky loser but then proceeded to move through the draw in straight sets.
In her second round and quarterfinal matches she only lost seven games as she posted wins of 61 62 and 60 64 to reach the semifinal and a meeting with her final opponent from the previous week, Fatma Al Nabhani.
Second seeded Al Nabhani was unable to stop Bencic claiming glory the previous week and with a 63 63 scoreline she once more came off second best to her Swiss opponent.
The final also brought up a re-match from the previous week as opposing her was Barbara Haas, seeded eighth. Their last encounter saw Bencic dominate and ease to a 62 60 win and this time Haas fared only marginally better, losing 64 60 as Bencic made it two wins from successive finals.
How far this 15-year old can rise in the professional game only time will tell but with two singles and a doubles title to her name already and co-coached by Melanie Molitor, the mother and coach of multi Grand Slam winner and former WTA world number one, Martina Hingis, she will be well worth keeping an eye on!