Photo: Michael BazAna Konjuh (CRO) and Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
Fourteen-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia and Serbia’s Laslo Djere produced stellar performances on the claycourts of the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Florida, to win singles trophies at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and so pick up the final ITF Junior Grade A titles of the season.
Konjuh beat World No.2 Katerina Siniakova 63, 62 to extend a 12-match winning streak going back to the start of the Eddie Herr International, where she also won the 18s’ Girls’ title last week. She should certainly be a player to watch in 2013, starting with the Junior Australian Open, which starts on 19th January.
“Sure, I have a lot of confidence, but I’m also tired. I have to relax a bit right now,” said Konjuh, the youngest Orange Bowl Girls 18s champion since 14-year old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in 2007. “I played a lot of matches. I got tired a bit. Now I’m just going to go home, spend time with my family, practice and prepare for (the) Australian Open.”
This is the second time in two weeks that Konjuh has got the better of Siniakova, whom she also beat in the Eddie Herr semifinals. “I wanted to play different, but she also played different. She played a little more slice, so I couldn’t make something with that,” said Siniakova, who is certain to finish the season as World No.2 behind American Taylor Townsend. “We know each other, so, it was a little bit different than the last match.”
Djere earned his Orange Bowl Boys’ 18s’ title with a 64, 64 win over No. 12 Elias Ymer of Sweden. Djere was a finalist at the Eddie Herr International but lost to Christian Garin of Chile in the final despite being in a winning position at a set and 41 up. After beating Ymer, Djere admitted to feeling some understandable relief at being able to convert his advantage this time around.
“I finally managed to finish this match in the second set, unlike the week before,” the 17-year old Djere said. “It would be a bad feeling to lose two finals, so I gave my best to win this final, and it’s a great result. I’m very happy.”
Ymer, for his part, was disappointed but paid credit to his conqueror after the match. “His down-the-line backhand was really good. He was stronger than me mentally,” said sixteen-year-old Ymer. “I think he played smarter than me.”
In the doubles, Americans Taylor Townsend and Gabby Andrews added to the Junior Australian Open Doubles title they won earlier this year by beating Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez and Marcela Zacarias, 64, 75 to win the Girls’ 18s’ Doubles’ title at the Orange Bowl.
“It means everything,” Andrews said. “Playing doubles with Taylor means a lot, because I know she’s not going to be playing a lot of juniors next year. Hopefully I’ll play some of the tournaments she’s going to play next year. But yeah, it’s amazing.”
That doubles’ win ended a what turned out to be a big week for Townsend, who was a semi-finalist in singles and was also confirmed as year-end Junior World No.1 earlier this week. She sounded particularly thrilled with the bowl of oranges, which is traditionally awarded to all Orange Bowl champions.
“I’ve played Orange Bowl like four times, and I’ve never gotten a bowl of oranges,” Townsend said. “So, I’m happy.”
In the Boys 18s doubles final, Garin joined forces with Nicolas Jarry to beat Lithuania’s Lukas Mugevicius and Russia’s Alexander Vasilenko, 62, 76(3) to win the 18s’ Boys’ Doubles’ trophy.
It has been a gruelling few weeks for Garin, who won singles and doubles (with Jarry) at the Eddie Herr International last week before picking up the doubles’ trophy at the Orange Bowl. “This tournament, I felt so tired at first. The first matches were a little tough,” said the Chilean. “The last three weeks were really good. This tournament was so important for me. For next year, I will try to play better here and try to play the (singles) final. I hope to be back here.”