One of the great things about tennis is you never quite know what’s going to happen.
And at this week’s Grade A Porto Alegre junior tournament in Brazil that’s how it’s played out heading into Sunday’s final. Some might have anticipated the top seeds winding up the champions, but that will not be the outcome.
In the boys’ 18 final, sixth-seeded Orlando Luz is the player who could deliver the trophy to Brazil. Luz will be tasked with playing ninth-seeded Clement Geens of Belgium in the final.
Luz earned his spot in the final by taking down fellow Brazilian Marcelo Zormann, who was seeded 10th, in a 64 63 semifinal that lasted one hour, 20 minutes.
The question swirling around Luz is whether he can win a third consecutive tournament in as many weeks? If he’s able to accomplish that feat Luz will become the first Brazilian player to win the Porto Alegre title since Thiago Monteiro did so three years ago.
The 16-year-old Luz is playing in top form of late and arrived at the Porto Alegre event having won the Banana Bowl tournament at São José do Rio Preto and the Asuncion Bowl, Paraguay.
“I come from a very long run and my physical power is not at its best, but still I managed to play well and win the match,” said Luz, after his semifinal victory.
A key to Luz’s success this week has been the support of the local crowd. Born in Carazinho, a city in the same Rio Grande Do Sul state as Porto Alegre, makes Luz a local favorite. The last local player to to win the event was Lucas Engel in 1999.
“To have the crowd’s support means a lot, it helps you to stay strong and be able to turn around any difficult situations you may face,” said Luz, who will be hoping for that same support against Geens on Sunday.
For Geens the road to the final required a great comeback after the top-seeded Quentin Halys of France won the opening set 60. But Geens refused to surrender and ended up upsetting Halys 06 61 64.
“I started out with my game way off, and he was being very aggressive,” Geens said. “Along the match I was able to find my rhythm and impose it to win.”
As it turns out the girls’ 18 final is to be an all-European affair with 13th-seeded Jil Belen Teichmann of Switzerland set to face 14th-seeded Aliona Balsova Zadoinov of Spain.
Teichmann bypassed 10th-seeded Dasha Ivanova of USA in quite easy fashion, taking a 62 60 semifinal win.
“I was very confidant, but did not have much of a strategy,” said the 16-year-old Teichmann, who played in her first Grand Slam junior event at the 2014 Australian Open where she reached the second round. “I just played my game (today) and really focused and it worked.”
The semifinal victory didn’t come as easily for Bolsova Zadoinov, who had to muster a great deal of energy to defeat fifth-seeded Anna Bondar of Hungary 36 76 (2) 62.
Bondar seemed in control of the match as the Spaniard worked to calm her nerves. Bondar was actually serving for the match at 52 in the second set when the momentum shifted. That’s when Zadoinov broke serve in that eighth game to end up winning the second set in a tiebreaker. Zadoinov went on to take a 50 lead in the third set before Bondar won her final two games of the match.
“One more tough match, one more survival for me”, joked Bolsova Zadoinov, who “Don’t ask me how I did this, I’m still trying to figure out where all that came from myself.
“I’m so happy.”
Click here for full results and draws.