On a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon at the All England Club two new faces joined the ranks of Wimbledon singles champions.
American Noah Rubin and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko aren’t quite main draw material yet, but they successfully worked towards being ready for primetime by winning the Wimbledon junior titles.
The 18-year-old Rubin topped sixth-seeded American compatriot Stefan Kozlov 64 46 63 to win his first career Grand Slam junior title.
“It’s a great feeling to be out here winning the tournament,” Rubin said. “I had a great tournament and that’s why I’m here.”
The recently turned 17-year-old Ostapenko, who was unseeded, won the junior girls’ trophy with a 26 63 60 upset of eighth seed Kristina Schmiedlova of the Slovak Republic.
“I feel really happy I could win this tournament,” Ostapenko said. “I look forward to playing some next tournaments and also showing good results.”
While the two-hour six-minute boys’ final was underway it was all business for the two players, who tested each other’s patience and will in the three-set encounter.
But when the 16-year-old Kozlov faltered in the final set to allow Rubin to win the last four games the two friends put their competitive ways on the back burner.
Kozlov’s father, obviously hoping for a different outcome to the match, had sent his son on-court with an American flag in his bag. Kozlov took it out of his bag and the two teens not only posed for photos with the flag, but also took the victory lap around the court together while the flag waved between them.
“He said, ‘I have a flag, I have a flag,” Rubin said. “I was like, ‘Dig it out.’ It’s been a long time since an all-American final, so might as well support it. At the end, when we were holding that American flag, I was like, ‘This is pretty special.’ Hopefully we’ll keep rising together and none of us will fall off, and we’ll as a group get to the top and show the results America wants.”
Without a doubt, Kozlov had a disappointing day on Sunday when he not only lost the singles final — his second Grand Slam singles final loss, having fallen to Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open in January — but also came out on the wrong side of the doubles final.
No matter what happened, Kozlov, who was born in Macedonia, found the class to be happy for his friend, Rubin, and proud of his nation's success at the tournament.
“That was actually easy,” said Kozlov, of taking out the flag his father had given him that morning. “I don’t know why it was easy, but everything else was pretty tough. I didn’t want to think about it all for those 15 minutes. I was just going to praise the guy - I’m happy for him.”
In the boys doubles final, the third seeds Orlando Luz and Marcelo Zormann of Brazil, overcame the odds to claim a thrilling three set victory over the top seeds, Kozlov and Andrey Rublev. The Brazilian pair embraced on court having defeated their opponents in an entertaining match, 64 36 86.
Luz and Zormann were playing an ITF Junior Circuit tournament together for just the second time, having suffered a first round defeat in the doubles at the Nike International Junior Roehampton tournament a week earlier. Luz and Zormann’s victory means they become the first Brazilian boys’ doubles champions at Wimbledon in over 30 years.
Both players have also been nominated to represent their nation in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games later this year, where their partnership could lead to further successes for the two top 20 ranked players.
Jelena Ostapenko put together an incredible week, one of which dreams are made, at this year's Wimbledon. By the time she was getting fitted for a gown to wear to the Wimbledon Ball on Sunday night, she had upended four seeds in six matches —ninth seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the third round, third seed Tornado Alicia Black of USA in the quarterfinals, 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova in the semifnals and finally, eighth seed Schmiedlova.
“I feel really happy to win here because this tournament is a great event,” Ostapenko said. “I love here everything because I think it’s one of the best Grand Slams. The atmosphere is really nice. The people are really nice. Also the grass courts, that everyone is playing in white clothes, I think it looks really nice.”
Once Ostapenko calmed down she was able to return to her aggressive style of play that seems to work wonders on the grass courts in England. She not only is going home with the prestigious Wimbledon title, but the Nike International Junior Roehampton title as well, beating Schmiedlova in both finals.
Ostapenko is a former member of the ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund 18 & Under Touring Team and is a current recipient of travel grants as part of the scheme.
In the girls’ doubles event, the duo of Tami Grende of Indonesia and Ye Qui Yu of China out-gunned Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Dalma Galfi of Hungary 62 76(5).
Grende, who made a last-minute, first time partnership with Ye, was able to compete at Wimbledon as a member of the ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund 18 & Under Touring Team.
“I’m really grateful that they brought me to this tournament because without them I wouldn’t be able to be a Wimbledon doubles champion,” Grende said. “They help me so much and improved my tennis so much the last few weeks. I hope they’ll have me on a team again.”