Photo: Jacques Cato World of Sport PhotographyTakuya Miki (JPN)
With the close of the qualification period for the London 2012 Paralympics now a little over six weeks away, last week’s Minas Open in Brazil, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, resulted in some important gains for men’s and women’s singles champions Takuya Miki of Japan and Maria Antonieta Ortiz of Chile.
Miki eased to straight sets victories over Spain’s Daniel Caverzaschi and Argentineans Ezequiel Casco and Augustin Ledesma en route to the men’s main draw singles final, while Rafael Medeiros faired best of the host nation players after a fine performance to beat top seed Yoshinobu Fujumoto 63 76(3) in the semifinals, thereby ending prospects of an all-Japanese final.
However, after edging the opening set of the final Miki went on to win his first ITF 2 Series title 75 61, earning a jump of two places in this week’s ranking to a career best of No. 22.
Japanese players also occupied the top two seeded positions in the women’s singles and while top seed Kanako Domori moved into the semifinals without dropping a set, the other three semifinalists all had to come from behind in their quarterfinals.
Second seed Yuko Okabe recovered from losing a close opening set against Colombia’s Johana Martinez to advance to the last four 57 62 64, while fourth seed Ortiz fell behind in her quarterfinal after a tremendous first set effort from British fifth seed Louise Hunt. However, the Chilean player gained the crucial break in the next two sets to earn a hard won 06 64 64 victory before again coming from behind to beat Okabe 46 61 61 in the semifinals.
With one Spanish player guaranteed to be in the semifinals, Lola Ochoa fought back to beat her compatriot Elena Jacinto in the top half of the draw 36 62 63 before a decidedly more comfortable victory came in the semifinals as Ochoa dropped just three games en route to knocking out Domori.
However, Ortiz made a better start to the final than she had done in her previous two matches and also landed her first ITF 2 Series title after beating Ochoa 64 63. The Chilean player has subsequently moved up five places in this week’s rankings to again achieve a career high of No. 15.
While Miki sat out the men’s main draw doubles, there were two South American pairings in the final at South America’s only ITF 2 Series event on the 2012 NEC Tour, with second seeds Casco and Ledesma getting the better of Brazilian top seeds Medeiros and Daniel Rodrigues to claim the title 64 60.
In the women’s doubles Domori and Okabe also made up for their semifinal losses in the singles and twice won deciding match tiebreaks, beating Hunt and Australia’s Janel Manns in the semifinals before overcoming Jacinto and Ochoa 26 63 (10-4) in the final.
The Minas Open also hosted one of the first two Grade A Junior tournaments the ITF has introduced in 2012. The Pensacola Open hosted last week’s other Grade A Junior tournament, but the all-Brazilian field for the Minas Open junior singles ended in a 61 76(0) victory for Glycon Gomes, No. 11 in the boys singles rankings, who defeated Meirycoll Silva, No. 10 in the girls singles rankings.
The next Grade A Junior tournament takes place at this week’s ITF 3 Series Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, which begins on Thursday and which will also see Miki bid to win back-to-back NEC Tour titles. Ortiz, meanwhile, contests the Florida Open.