Wozniacki and Roshardt Win Orange Bowl Titles; Heinser and Plotkin Capture Doubles Championship ~~~
©Colette Lewis 2005
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Robin Roshardt of Switzerland both will board planes and head for the Yucatan Cup, with heavier suitcases and lighter hearts, a result of the Waterford crystal they'll be packing as 2005 Orange Bowl champions.
Roshardt, 17, made quick work of Paris Gemouchidis Sunday morning, taking a 6-1, 6-0 decision from the battered Greek qualifier, who was playing his ninth match of the tournament.
"From the first point on, I think I played confidently and didn't miss many balls," said Roshardt, who was the tournament's ninth seed. "I played good."
Gemouchidis did not, taken out of his retriving game by a sore right calf and a balky left hamstring that required a trainer early in the second set.
"I woke up in the morning with my right calf feeling a bit tight. I had it wrapped and both my ankles wrapped," said the only qualifier to make the boys final since the tournament moved from clay to hard courts in 1999. "All the tiredness came out today."
His movement obviously hindered, especially in the second set, Gemouchidis could not counterpunch, and his serve was also affected by his assorted injuries. Roshardt did not let his opponent's problems interrupt his focus, and continued to hit winners with regularity.
"He plays very aggressive," said Gemouchidis, 17. "He takes the ball very early, putting pressure on his opponent. And he has a better backhand than forehand."
Gemouchidis, who trains in Spain at the Sergi Bruguera Academy, is also traveling to Mexico for the Yucatan Cup Monday. "I will get off the plane, go on the court and play my match," he said matter-of-factly of his 11 p.m. match time Monday.
But after what he accomplished at the Orange Bowl--beating both third seed Ryan Sweeting and fifth seed Timothy Neilly, the defending champion--enroute to the final, even that doesn't seem a daunting challenge.
After a week of tennis that included two main draw singles rounds in one day, three matches of four-game sets for doubles on another, night matches, fog, rain and humidity, Caroline Wozniacki had her own litany of aches and pains.
Holding a bag of ice to her left thigh, she began pointing to various body parts. "I'm sore here, and here and here, and here I have a blister, and the bug bites, from my night matches," said the fifteen-year-old from Denmark.
But those injuries were secondary to her elation at taking the Orange Bowl girls 18s championship with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over friend Mihaela Buznarnescu of Romania.
"I'm so excited. I can't believe I won the whole tournament," said the fifth seed. "It's one of the biggest tournaments and I proved to myself one more time that I'm one of the best players."
Wozniacki's serve proved an effective weapon and Buzarnescu, the eighth seed, could not get her fearsome forehand in the court with any regularity. Although Buzarnescu was more determined to finish points from the net than Wozniacki, she was too erratic to provide a challenge to her quicker and more consistent foe.
Asked if she felt sorry for Buzarnescu, whom she described as a "close" friend, Wozniacki thought for a moment and said goodnaturedly, "No, actually not. We're friends off the court, but on the court I don't know who is standing over there."
And although her Orange Bowl title will immediately cast her in the role of favorite for the upcoming Casablanca Cup and the Australian Junior Open, Wozniacki is avoiding any talk of added pressure.
"I was also one of the favorites this year," said the ITF's ninth-ranked junior. "But I was thinking more about winning than enjoying the game, and that's not going to work. So now I'm just saying to myself, 'I'll take one step at a time' and go out there and enjoy it."
Wozniacki could not immediately savor her singles title, as she and partner Anna Tatishvili of Georgia met Jenny-Lee Heinser and Liz Plotkin of the U.S. in the girls 18 doubles Sunday afternoon.
In a match that made up for the lack of excitement in the preceding singles finals, Heinser and Plotkin, the sixth seeds, won their first Grade A title-- a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory in front of a small but vocal crowd.
Heinser, from Miami, and Plotkin, from San Francisco, found most of their support coming from Jenni-Lee's father Reiner, who runs Heinser Tennis Academy in Miami, and a few family friends.
"It was funny because they had this whole side cheering," said Heinser. "It was like Fed Cup," chimed in Plotkin, "except we're in the U.S.A., and we've only got about five people rooting for us."
Eventually the entire crowd was won over by the feisty pair, who have been playing together as a team for over a year, a significant length of time for a junior team.
"You have to know each other well," said Heinser, "in order to know what's going to bring you up, what's going to bother you, what not to say. It's good that we're close."
That spirit was personified by the match's final game, when Plotkin was serving for the championship. On the first point Heinser dug out volley after volley, saving the point at least four times before finally inducing Wozniacki to miss an overhead smash.
"After that point, I was like, 'you're my hero'," Plotkin said, drawing laughter from the reporters gathered. "I'm the one that says it...she's usually the one who runs around and makes unbelievable gets."
But Plotkin also rose to the occasion in the final game, getting in all but one of her first serves, although she did admit to some jitters.
"I was nervous," said Plotkin, "but I had faith in my partner, so I trusted myself to just go for it."
After match point was secure, the two friends embraced, savoring their last tournament together as juniors. Although Plotkin is only seventeen and has junior events and college in her future, Heinser is eighteen and will graduate to the professional ranks at year end.
"It's a good way to end my junior career," Heinser said, "winning my last tournament."
The top two teams in boys doubles met Sunday morning, and it too was a close and well-played match, with the Argentinian team of Emiliano Massa and Leonardo Mayer, seeded one, defeating the Croatian team of Marin Cilic and Nikola Mektic 6-4, 7-6 (3).
In 16s action on Sunday, unseeded Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia, playing in her first tournament ever in the United States, defeated ninth seed Mari Luiza Craciun of Romania 6-4, 6-2, to take the girls 16 singles title. In boys 16 singles, another unseeded player also took home the trophy, Gueorgui Roumenov of Spain, who defeated third seed Stephane Piro of France 6-4, 6-3.
Boys 16s doubles featured two French teams, with Jonathan Eyserric and Jerome Inzerillo getting past Nassim Slilam and Piro 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3).
The girls 16s doubles championship, played Saturday evening, saw Cracium and partner Ioana Ivan best Kristy Frilling of the U.S. and Erina Kikuchi of Japan 6-3, 6-3.