Photo: Susan MullaneLara Arruabarrena-Vecino (ESP)
Our November featured player is 18-year old Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino from Spain.
The month began with two $10,000 clay court tournaments on the Balearic isle of Mallorca off the Spanish mainland coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Both tournaments were held in the same venue in Cala Millor and for the first she found herself named the No. 1 seed in both the singles and doubles events. A qualifier from Germany provided her first round opposition and a 62 62 win for Arruabarrena-Vecino was followed with a 61 60 demolition of her Romanian second round opponent. The quarterfinal saw her up against seeded opposition in fellow Spaniard Arabela Fernandez-Rabener, who was seeded eighth. Another comfortable win looked on the cards when Arruabarrena-Vecino raced through the opening set to the loss of just one game but the No. 8 seed improved in the second set but could not force the match into a deciding third set with Arruabarrena-Vecino eventually coming through 61 64. Now into the semifinal, Arruabarrena-Vecino found things a touch tougher as unseeded Katerina Vankova pushed her hard before succumbing in two sets 64 76(2).
The day prior to the singles final, Arruabarrena-Vecino contested the doubles final with Spanish partner Ines Ferrer-Suarez. As the Top Seeded pairing in the event they had seen off each of their opponents in straight sets and this continued in the final where a 75 62 victory gave them their second title of the year. Celebrations of this triumph were then added to following the singles final where Arruabarrena-Vecino took on Spanish sixth seed Sandra Soler-Soler. Her 63 63 win was her second success in a singles final this year.
Staying at the same venue for her second tournament of the month, Arruabarrena-Vecino could take a lot of confidence into the tournament coming off the back of a double triumph the previous week. This tournament though saw her seeded third in the singles and unseeded with new doubles partner Maria Joao Koehler from Portugal for the doubles event. Arruabarrena-Vecino’s singles campaign got off to a far tougher start than the previous week as two players from the qualifying event took a set each off her but could not inflict an early defeat. The 75 36 64 and 62 46 60 opening round wins certainly gave her a lot of on court practice ahead of her quarterfinal with Italy’s No. 7 seed Karin Knapp, a former WTA Top 40 ranked player. Although this time Arruabarrena-Vecino was able to wrap up victory in straight sets, the match was still very close, finishing 64 63 to the Spaniard. This win set her up with a semifinal showdown with Spanish Wild Card entrant Ivonne Cavalle-Reimers, a 61 62 conqueror of the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals. That win ensured that Arruabarrena-Vecino would not be underestimating her opponent and both players gave little away in the first set which went to a tie break. Arruabarrena-Vecino stepped up a gear and assumed control of the tie break and conceded just two points to take the opening set. With the first set safely in the bag Arruabarrena-Vecino pushed on and soon had the match won, dropping only two games in the second set. Having made an early second round exit from the doubles event in a straight sets defeat to the No. 2 seeds, Arruabarrena-Vecino was able to concentrate fully on her upcoming singles final although so was her opponent as facing her across the net for the title was her doubles partner and fifth seed Maria Joao Koehler! This was the third career meeting between the two and coming into the match the honours were even at one win a piece. The match itself followed a similar pattern to Arruabarrena-Vecino’s semifinal and a 7-2 tie break win saw Arruabarrena-Vecino take the lead in the match. A second consecutive singles title in Cala Millor, Mallorca was soon added to Arruabarrena-Vecino’s honours list with a 63 second set win.
Arruabarrena-Vecino then took a week off from the ITF Pro Circuit before returning to play to see out the month on mainland Spain at a $10,000 clay court tournament in the eastern Spanish town of La Vall d’Uixo. Once again she found herself named the No. 3 seed in singles and, with a third change of partner this month in Benedetta Davato from Italy, seeded No. 1 for the doubles event. In rounds one and two she met with little resistance seeing off the challenges of British Lucky Loser Daneika Borthwick 60 61 with Cristina Dinu from Romania faring only marginally better in a 61 61 win in round two. The quarterfinal saw Arruabarrena-Vecino take on a second British player, the No. 6 seed Amanda Carreras. This match, as expected, proved much tougher with Arruabarrena-Vecino dropping as many games in the opening set as in the first two rounds combined. After taking the first set 63 her British opponent fought her way back into the match and levelled it with a 75 second set win. The deciding set was again close and finished 64 in Arruabarrena-Vecino’s favour. A place in a third singles final this month then came with a straight sets 75 61 win over Russian opposition in the semifinal. As in her first tournament earlier this month in Mallorca, Arruabarrena-Vecino found herself contesting a doubles final on the eve of the singles final. Playing with Benedetta Davato for the first time they had reached the final with a mixed bag of results and in the final they took on the third seeds of Amanda Carreras (GBR) & Andrea Gamiz (VEN). A tie break settled the first set, won 7-5 by the British-Venezuelan partnership who then went on to claim victory with a second set 63 win. Her singles final pitted her against the Russian No. 1 seed, Nanuli Pipiya in what proved a very closely matched encounter to end the month with. Although the lower seeded player Arruabarrena-Vecino already had two singles titles under her belt this month and was soon on course to make it a hat-trick of singles titles in November. The first set of the final almost went to a tie break but Arruabarrena-Vecino prevented this to take it 75 but in the second set a tie break was called for. This was just as closely contested by the players as was every game of the final so far and in the end it was won 8-6 by Arruabarrena-Vecino to secure a 75 76(6) victory and ensure the month ended just as it had begun, with the winners trophy!
These three singles finals won this month extended Arruabarrena-Vecino’s record to eight from nine career finals contested; in fact, she has now won the last seven finals in which she has appeared! Currently ranked just inside the top 400 on the latest WTA Singles ranking list, this young Spaniard looks to have a bright future ahead of her and will be one to look out for on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2011.