13 Nov 2017

Peerless Van Baarle cruises to 50s title in Miami

News Article

By Harvey Fialkov

Photo: Camerawork USAKlaartje Van Baarle (BEL)

One by one, Klaartje Van Baarle knocked off Americans as if they were bowling pins.

On Friday, it was the second-seeded Rosalyn Nideffer, a former pro once ranked 15th in 1990, who won her only World singles title in 2012 in her hometown of San Diego, turn to fall. 

Nideffer, 57, a multiple U.S. national champion, proved no problem for this pint-sized dynamo from Belgium who cruised to a 61 63 victory on the clay courts of North Shore Tennis Center.

Van Baarle, the top seed, had already vanquished three other Americans, including Nideffer’s U.S. teammates who earned a silver in last week’s Team event, Jenny Klitch, eighth-seeded Gretchen Rush, another pro who was once ranked 22nd, as well as Susan Kirby.

“I won because I have the right game to beat her,’’ said Van Baarle, 53, who didn’t drop a set in any of her five matches en route to her sixth gold medal in Seniors World Individual singles.

“I used more spin and higher shots to the baseline. She doesn’t like that which is common to players who slice their backhand. That’s my game.

“At the beginning I was very nervous because I have so much respect for her because she [and Rush] were so good. She seemed tired but you would never know because she’s so professional.

“I was afraid. It’s strange. This was a really strong card so it’s a good gold medal.’’

Van Baarle has compiled an amazing 191-3 match record since joining the Senior Circuit in 2001, her first year at No. 1, but not her last.

Van Baarle credits her affiliation with Herbalife Nutrition for her extraordinary fitness, which translates to success on the tennis court.

“Herbalife is the nutrition for the 24-hour athlete,’’ she said. “I’m a nutrition coach and for the last three years I convince people to eat healthy.’’

It’s certainly working for Van Baarle.

Nideffer’s difficult day continued when she and Rush, the top seeds, lost the doubles final 64 64 to the eighth-seeded Argentine duo of Mariana Matilde Metola and Monica Liliana Patron.

When the match ended, Metola and Patron collapsed on court in a long embrace. Rush then climbed over the net and joined in the group hug.

Rush took home two silvers in the Team and doubles, while Nideffer added three silvers to her growing collection.

In the women’s 55s final held on the hard courts of the Crandon Park Tennis Center, the seventh-seeded Helga Nauck of Germany downed the eighth-seeded Vicki Buholz of the U.S., 61 64 for her first World title.

Nauck, 56, a rookie on the world stage, upset top-seeded and top-ranked Ros Baldois of Australia 60 in the third set of the quarterfinals. 

Baldois, 56, who had defeated Nauck in last week’s team competition, was 18-0 this year before the loss. Baldois won the World singles and doubles the last two years and also won singles in 2002, ’05, ’06 and ’08.

Balodis did team with fellow Aussie Leanne Swaysland to win the doubles title with a 63 61 victory over Argentines’ Beatriz Villaverde and Marcela Voyame.