Photo: Pete Ziebron$75,000 Phoenix
The 2011 final of the Goldwater Women's Tennis Classic on the ITF Pro Circuit between Sessil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan and Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal featured several extended rallies in excess of 50 shots, wild swings of momentum in the 2nd set, an underhanded serve and a code violation warning. After all of the drama, Karatantcheva would prevail 61 75.
Sessil Karatantcheva broke Michelle Larcher De Brito in the opening game of the match to set the tone early on and marched to a 30 lead. Despite getting broken in her next service game, Karatantcheva would break Larcher De Brito all four times she served in the opening set to take the set 61. In fact, Larcher De Brito only managed to win three points on her serve in the set and was broken at love in the 5th and 7th games of the first set.
Karatantcheva held to open the 2nd set and then neither player was able to hold serve in the next three games. At this point in the match, Larcher De Brito had been broken in all six of her service games. Karatantcheva held to go up 41 and was only two games away from winning the title.
Despite going up 40-0 in her service game, Larcher De Brito lost the next 2 points, won the next point and finally was able to win her first game on her serve in the match.
The tide turned drastically as Larcher De Brito broke Karatantcheva at love and then won her service game at love as well to knot the 2nd set at 44. Larcher De Brito also won the first point on Karatantcheva's next service game, marking a run of ten consecutive points!
The remainder of the match from this point on was surreal. Karatantcheva would win the next three points to lead 40-15; however the rallies in two of these points exceeded 50 shots! Now serving with two game points in hand, Karatantcheva double faulted. Her second serve bounced into the net, marking the second time in the match that she failed to even hit a serve into the net.
At 40-30, Karatantcheva faulted on her first serve and then, noticeably shaken, inexplicably hit her next serve underhanded. The unusual serve landed well long and the score was now deuce, 44 in the 2nd set. After saving two break points, Karatantcheva was eventually broken and Larcher De Brito would serve for the 2nd set at 54.
Larcher De Brito double faulted to open the game, lost the next two points and double faulted yet again, her 6th of the match, to square the set at 55. As Karatantcheva served for a 65 lead, the players traded endless groundstrokes with little pace on them, meaning that many of the points in this game lasted at least 30 strokes and some even exceeded 50 strokes.
Karatantcheva would eventually serve at 40-30, squander a game point and the 11th game of the set went to deuce. After losing the following point, Larcher De Brito was issued a code violation warning by the chair umpire for angrily tapping her racquet on the court behind the baseline. Earlier in the match, Larcher De Brito hit her racquet three times into the ground, yet a warning was not issued at that time.
Larcher De Brito questioned the warning, fired herself up and won the next point forcing the second deuce of the game. Karatantcheva would win the next point, fail to close out the game and then win the next two points to take a 65 lead in the set and be within one game of the title.
Serving now to stay in the match, Michelle Larcher De Brito won the first point of the game. However it would be the last point she would manage to win in the match as she double faulted and then dropped the next three points of the game. Sessil Karatantcheva would be crowned as the 2011 Goldwater Women's Tennis Classic with a 61 75 victory.
During the awards ceremony, Karatantcheva thanked Tournament Directors Sara and Dan Stablein, USTA Officials Bunny Williams and Missy Malool, the ball boys and girls, wished everyone Happy Holidays and hoped that Santa would bring many presents to all.
Prior to the singles final, American Jamie Hampton and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia rallied from one set down to defeat Americans Maria Sanchez and Yasmin Schnack 36 63 [10-6] to win the Doubles Championship.