19 Nov 2017

Baird upsets Korda for 1st Grade A title in Mexico

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Jorge ReyesDrew Baird (USA), Sebastian Korda (USA)

It was a great breakout week for two unseeded junior players ranked outside the top 150, who staged grand victories at the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano tournament this week.

On Sunday, 192nd-ranked Drew Baird of North Carolina, toppled fellow American and top seed Sebastian Korda to claim a first Grade A trophy with a hard fought 76 (4) 36 60 victory.

On Saturday, unseeded American Alexa Noel upset fellow American and top seed Whitney Osuigwe 62 64 to earn her first Grade A stripes.

Prior to this week, the 17-year-old Baird hadn’t ever even played at a prestigious Grade A tournament and struggled to even make an impact at Grade 1 level tournaments.

Baird’s best previous results came this year at two Grade 4 level events. He won the International Grass Courts event in Haverford, Pennsylvania in June and the Copa Merengue title in the Dominican Republic in July.

Korda, also 17, was the last of three seeded players that Baird bypassed in the last three rounds. In the quarterfinals he ousted ninth seed Nick Hardt of Dominican Republic 63 63, defeated 13th seed Filip Cristian Jianu of Romania 76 (2) 76 (1) in the semifinals before dispatching Korda.

In all, Baird surrendered two sets en route to victory, in the second set of his first round match and the second set of the final.

For the 26th-ranked Korda, an American of Czech descent, the final loss leaves him still seeking an international level junior title. Korda has moved up the junior ranking ladder by consistently playing his way into the later rounds of tournaments.

It wasn’t until this year, however, that Korda started playing a full compliment of junior events as his parents, former players Petr Korda, an Australian Open champion, and Regina Rajchrtova, a top 30 player, wanted to make sure he had a balanced childhood. They followed the same methodology for Korda’s two older sisters, Jessica and Nelly, who are both enjoying fruitful golf careers on the LPGA Tour.

This year, Korda has made most of his impact in terms of titles in the doubles arena, winning five doubles trophies, four with Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. The duo picked up the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano doubles title on Saturday.

His only other singles final of the year besides for the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano was at the Easter Bowl.

The year, however, is not over for the juniors and the next few weeks will feature the final two big events of the year - the Grade 1 Eddie Herr International and the Grade A Orange Bowl. Both of those events take place in Florida with the Eddie Herr held at the IMG Academy where Korda trains.