©Colette Lewis 2007--
Two youngsters captured the David Barkesdale Junior Dixie Winter Sectional 18s tournament Sunday, when 16-year-old Joey Burkhardt and 15-year-old Kelly Kambourelis won semifinal and final matches on a warm and cloudless Monday.
Burkhardt lived up to his top seeding, defeating second seed Joseph Cadogan 6-4, 2-6, 4-1 ret. in the final, but Kambourelis, seeded No. 9, was something of a surprise winner, and she continued her run through the final, defeating No. 5 seed Rachel Saiontz 6-4, 6-1.
"I didn't have really anything to lose," said Kambourelis, who also took out No. 4 seed Jordan Jenkins in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "She was seeded higher than me, and I had to keep my head on straight, and make sure I wasn't intimidated."
Saiontz had upset top seed Monica Arguello in a semifinal match that took an inordinately long time to play given the 7-6 (5), 6-1 score. Arguello's counter-punching style produced many lengthy points, and the clay courts also were a contributing factor. Less than two hours later, Saiontz faced another such player in Kambourelis, who had survived a grueling three set win over 15th seed Alexandra Cercone in the semifinals.
"I like to just get a lot of balls back," said Melbourne's Kambourelis, who plays a two-handed forehand and backhand. "Sometimes I can disguise where I'm going on short balls more, because they can't tell where I'm pointing to. But you have to be a little faster on the forehand to get to the shots, because you don't have the wide reach."
The quiet Kambourelis displayed that speed, deception and accuracy throughout the final, much to the dismay of the 17-year-old Saiontz, who could be heard shrieking and talking to herself several courts away.
While Kambourelis and Saiontz had not played since the 10 and unders, according to Kambourelis, Burkhardt and Cadogan are frequent foes, having played three times in 2006 alone.
"I've always had close matches with him," said Burkhardt. "It's never really been just two sets."
Burkhardt, from St. Augustine, had not dropped a set in the tournament; in fact, he hadn't lost more than three games in any set in his first five wins. Cadogan, on the other hand, had dropped the first set in his quarterfinal and semifinal victories, the latter a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Bryan Swartz earlier Monday morning.
The first set featured only three holds of serve, and Burkhardt got two of them to take it 6-4. In the second set, Cadogan picked up the pace on his shots, and using the one-handed backhand that he decided to go with exclusively during the past few months, he streaked out to a 5-1 lead before Burkhardt finally held his serve for the first and only time in the 6-2 set.
The toll of the five sets of tennis Cadogan had played on Monday began to show early in the third set, however, and after Burkhardt took a 2-1 lead, Cadogan asked for a medical timeout. After several minutes, play resumed, but Cadogan was broken, Burkhardt held and Cadogan retired with a sore left arm.
"He usually gets tired near the end of matches," said Burkhardt, "and I was just able to hang in there."
Burkhardt came out with a specific strategy which kept him from being troubled by all the service breaks. "I wanted to start out the point a certain way, so I could work it to his backhand," he said. "He has a heavy and good forehand, and I just didn't want to take a big chance on the serve."
Winning a tournament as the top seed was a new experience for Burkhardt.
"In the 14s, I was never really near the top, then in the 16s I was starting to get there," he said. "By the time I started doing well in the 16s, I started playing up in the 18s. I was a top four seed in my last couple of tournaments, so I'm starting to get used to it."
With two years left in the 18s for him and three years remaining for Kambourelis, there's plenty of time for both to keep winning from any position.
In the third place matches, Alexandra Cercone (15) defeated Monica Arguello 6-2, 6-0 and Bryan Swartz won over Billy Federhofer 4-6, 5-1, ret. injury.
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Monday, January 15, 2007