Junior Orange Bowl Day 6: Miami's Lederman, Puig and Newman Reach Sunday Morning Finals at Biltmore Tennis Center
Coral Gables, FL--
Roy Lederman, Monica Puig and Spencer Newman may be sleeping in their own beds, but Saturday night will not be a normal one for the three Miami residents. On Sunday morning, the local trio will take the Biltmore Tennis Center courts to compete for one of the most prestigious titles in junior tennis--Orange Bowl champion.
All three also reached their age division finals at the Eddie Herr in Bradenton, Fla. a few weeks ago, and are determined to bring home the winner's trophy this time.
"I'm ready to go out there," said Puig, who defeated No. 9 seed Natalija Kostic of Serbia in Saturday's semifinal 6-2, 6-4. "I've been in the Eddie Herr final, and I know how that feels like, so I'm not nervous at all."
"Spencer and I were pretty disappointed in losing in the Eddie Herr finals," said Puig, a No. 17 seed. "We knew we could have done better in our tactics. Hopefully we can grab the title this time--we want Miami kids to finally win the finals."
Puig, who was up a set and 5-1 against Kostic, saw that lead melt away. It took Puig six match points to finally subdue the Serb, who stepped up her game when losing the point meant losing the match.
"I thought she played a little tentative before, and wasn't hitting the ball," said Puig. "But during that period of time she was cranking some very good shots, and I was surprised."
Puig's opponent in Sunday's final is No. 9 seed Iveta Dapkute of Lithuania, who defeated unseeded Breaunna Addison of New Braunfels, Tex., 6-4, 6-1.
The boys 14s final, scheduled to follow the girls' championship match, pits Newman, who is under five feet tall, against George Morgan of Great Britain, who is over six-foot-one. Newman is hoping to use the same skills he demonstrated in Saturday's 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 semifinal win against fellow No. 9 seed Yaroslav Shyla of Belarus: superior quickness, excellent finishes at the net and a solid return game.
"I just kind of took charge after the first set," said Newman, who had scores of sun-soaked local fans supporting him from the courtside bleachers. "I think I had more energy and I definitely wanted it more. The first game of the third set I went down 40-0, but brought it back and won that game, and that was huge. If I hadn't done that, where would the match be now?"
Morgan, a No. 17 seed, downed unseeded Shane Vinsant of Keller, Tex. 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, coming from 4-1 down in the third set to earn the finals berth against Newman. Morgan, who is making his first Orange Bowl appearance, has never played Newman, but is impressed by what he's seen this week from the diminutive dynamo.
"I know he's small and really quick," said Morgan, from Manchester, England. "So I'd better expect every ball back. And he can also attack as well, so it's going to be tough."
Lederman, the youngest Miami-based finalist, has a score to settle with No. 1 seed Joe Di Giulio of Newport Beach, California. Lederman lost to Di Giulio 6-0, 6-0 in the finals of the Eddie Herr 12s late last month, and is intent on changing his game style in the Orange Bowl final.
"I'm going to be way more consistent," said Lederman, who defeated Yifan Dang of China 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinal. "He played really good (at the Eddie Herr), he didn't miss and I was just going for everything and wasn't playing smart tennis. I'm going to be as consistent as he is."
It was a strategy the unseeded Lederman employed against Dang, a big hitter who takes a lot of risk.
"I was being consistent and he was doing all the missing," said Lederman. "I didn't go for all my shots; I just hit high to his forehand and backhand. I played him in doubles, and he just hits so hard, I thought that if he hits that hard, he's going to miss sometimes."
Di Giulio also needed to blunt his opponent's force, as qualifier Matteo Donati of Italy employed a powerful forehand during his nine straight-set wins in the previous eight days.
"I was trying to hit a deep, pretty aggressive ball, so he couldn't get me on the run," said Di Giulio, who emerged with a 6-3, 6-4 victory. "I executed it pretty well. In the second set I got down 4-1, then I started playing a little more aggressive, starting moving him more."
At 4-4, Donati called for the trainer, saying that he was feeling sick, but he retook the court and finished the match, although his usual energy was absent.
Di Giulio is guarding against overconfidence when he faces Lederman again.
"I'm not going to be thinking about that," said Di Giulio. "I'm just going to go out there and play a smart, steady game, and hopefully come out on top."
Di Giulio is not the only American player going for the rare Eddie Herr/Junior Orange Bowl double. Madison Keys, from Boca Raton, Fla., who defeated Hollywood Fla.'s Sachia Vickery in the Eddie Herr final, will meet a different opponent in the Junior Orange Bowl final however, as Sujeoung Jang of Korea earned her spot with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Miami's Denise Starr. The unseeded Keys, who has lost only one set in the tournament--to Vickery in the third round--broke New Zealand's Emily Fanning in the fifth game of Saturday's semifinal on a point that displayed her impressive combination of power and speed, and rolled on to a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The girls 12s final will be played at 8:00 a.m. at Salvadore Park. The boys 12s and girls 14s finals are scheduled for 9:00 a.m. at the Biltmore Tennis Center, with the boys 14s final to follow.
The 14s finals will be televised on Coral Gables TV, and can be viewed via the website at coralgables.com.
For complete results, including consolation draws, see the Junior Orange Bowl TennisLink site.