©Colette Lewis 2007--
Switzerland's Michael Lammer and Alina Jidkova of Russia took 2007's first Pro Circuit titles on a summer-like day at the City of Tampa courts at Hillsborough Community College.
Lammer engineered a remarkable turnaround to defeat 17-year-old Donald Young, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, while Jidkova was never threatened in her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Olga Blahotova of the Czech Republic.
Young began the finals as he had finished his semifinal victory on Saturday--confident and consistent. Although he was broken in the match's opening game, he reeled off the next six games to the take the set, and when he broke Lammer to open the second set, prospects looked bleak for the 24-year-old Swiss.
But Young, the No. 8 seed, began to show signs of fatigue after winning that multi-deuce game, and was quickly broken himself in the next game; he managed to hold serve only once the rest of the match.
"In the second set I was hitting the ball a little bit harder," said the third-seeded Lammer, who also eliminated the unforced errors that plagued him in the first set. "The rallies were tougher, but I felt in good physical condition. It was a tough set, but in the third set he got a little tired, and I kept up the level, and it was the difference."
Young admitted that he was unable to sustain the focus that he had demonstrated in his four previous wins.
"I got tired in the middle of the second set and he didn't," said Young, who was playing in his first professional singles final. "He made me hit a lot of shots and he didn't miss anything. I was really tired and I didn't have enough energy to do what I was doing in the first set."
Lammer had a small cheering section consisting of his aunt, who lives in both Switzerland and Naples, Florida, and his grandmother, who was visiting her daughter. He also has a new coach, which explains why Lammer is in Florida instead of Australia, where last year he qualified for the Australian Open.
"I changed coaches, and came to practice here in Miami in December and we decided to start the season with the Futures here and play more tournaments in the U.S., get a lot of matches, and build up the season like that."
Lammer is off to an excellent start in the new year, as is Young. Although disappointed with the finals result, Young cited several reasons for optimism.
"I got to my first final," Young said. "I would have liked to win it, but I went three sets. I went a round further than I have before, so it's an improvement and a good to start 2007."
The women's final started the action on Sunday, and it didn't produce much suspense, as Jidkova, a former Top 60 WTA player, dominated throughout. As a qualifier, Jidkova needed three victories to reach the main draw, but until she lost the second set in the semifinals against Julie Ditty, the 29-year-old righthander had barely been tested. Blahotova, 30, could not keep pace with Jidkova and failed to capitalize on the few opportunities she had to draw even.
The round of 16 and the quarterfinals were played Sunday in the boys and girls 18s sectional tournament at HCC, and the No. 1 seeds in both divisions advanced to Monday's semifinals with a pair of straight set victories.
Top seed Monica Arguello bested No. 11 seed Lindsay Dvorak 6-4, 7-6 (1) and unseeded Malika Rose 6-3, 6-2 on the green clay courts. Arguello will meet No. 5 seed Rachel Saiontz in the semifinals. The other semifinal features Kelly Kambourelis (9) against No. 15 Alexandra Cercone. Cercone defeated unseeded Maria Belaya, who in the round of 16 had upset second seed Jamie Mera in a third-set tiebreak.
Joey Burkhardt, the No. 1 boys' seed, took out Evan Bernstein (16) 6-2, 6-2 and Dashiel Neimark (12) 6-2, 6-3. Burkhardt's opponent in the semifinals will be unseeded Billy Federhofer. Federhofer easily defeated No. 6 seed Robert Pietrucha and No. 11 seed Erik Hannah to earn his spot in the semis.
Another unseeded semifinalist is Bryan Swartz, who had no trouble with unseeded Chris Reiman and ninth seed Michael Anders, defeating both in two quick sets. He will face No. 2 seed Joe Cadogan, who played only one match on Sunday due to a walkover in the round of 16, but that one match was a three-hour marathon. Cadogan won the final four games of the match to survive his battle with No. 5 seed Luke Mojica 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
For complete draws, including consolation draws, see the TennisLink tournament page.
Sunday, January 14, 2007