Photo: Susan MullaneAnna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)
OSPREY, FL, USA: In a tough draw that featured 11 players ranked inside the WTA Top 100, including 2009 US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, it was Slovakian second seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova who emerged victorious.
Competing in her 11th career singles final, Schmiedlova defeated top seed Marina Erakovic 62 63 to earn her first tournament win since April 2013 and secure the eighth title of her career.
The week, much interrupted by rainy conditions, began well for Schmiedlova, who, on a break from WTA Tour action, was making a return to the ITF Pro Circuit for the first time since losing in the final of a $100,000 tournament in Biarritz, France back in July 2013, as she posted a 62 60 win over American wild card Jan Abaza.
Top seed Marina Erakovic also came through the opening round in straight sets, winning 75 60, but fallers in the first round included the aforementioned Oudin along with Dinah Pfizenmaier and Virginie Razzano, seeded fifth and sixth respectively.
Two more seeds fell in round two with the exits of seventh seed Petra Cetkovska by walkover and the eighth seeded Julia Glushko who lost sets of 62 and 61 either side of a 64 second set win and Schmiedlova was fortunate not to join them.
Mathilde Johansson looked to be on course to spring a major upset when taking the first set of their match without the loss of a game before the Slovakian fought her way back into the match to take the next two sets 63 64.
The top four seeds then won comfortably into the semifinal, although fourth seed Lourdes Dominguez Lino did drop the second set in her win but only conceded one game in the deciding third set to set up a meeting with Schmiedlova.
Both semifinals went the distance. Schmiedlova had a tricky contest with her Spanish opponent and narrowly claimed a final place in a third set 7-5 tiebreak win whilst Erakovic fought from a set down to defeat Jana Cepelova and in doing so ending Slovakian fans hopes of seeing their sole representatives in the draw fight it out in the title match.
After the rainy week already endured, the final was thankfully played out in sunnier conditions. Schmiedlova took the opening set for the loss of just two games and conceded just three in the second to wrap up her first triumph in 12 months. The title also helped to elevate the 19-year-old to a new WTA career high singles ranking of No. 66.