©Colette Lewis 2008--
Doubles took center stage at Friday's International Grass Court Championships, and although both the girls and boys finals were decided in straight sets, there was plenty of excitement for the spectators at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
The boys final opened the day's action, with No. 3 seeds Raymond Sarmiento and Jordan Cox prevailing over No. 4 seeds Ryan Lipman and Ryan Noble 7-6(5), 6-4. In the girls final that followed, Brooke Bolender and Beatrice Capra defeated Kate Fuller and Nicolle Stracar 6-2, 6-2 in a contest between unseeded teams.
The first set of the boys final was a tale of missed opportunities for Lipman and Noble, who had three break points on Cox's serve in the opening game of the match and three more with Sarmiento serving at 5-5, while holding their service games easily. Unable to take advantage of any of those chances, they had another in the tiebreaker, when they led 5-4 with Lipman serving the next two points. But Noble, within inches of the net, missed a routine volley wide, and two points later, Sarmiento and Cox had secured the first set.
At 2-2 in the second set, Noble was broken, the only break of the match, and again he and Lipman had opportunities to pull even, but couldn't win that key point.
"When we got in holes, we came up big on serves" said Cox, 16. "Raymond hit some big serves down 15-30, 30-40, clutch tennis when we were down break points."
In the final game of the match, Sarmiento was in one of those spots, down 0-30, after Cox missed makeable shots. But even when facing the prospect of a second serve, the 15-year-old Californian kept his composure, and didn't give his opponents anything to work with.
"We stayed positive," said Cox. "We kept each other on track," agreed Sarmiento, who had only teamed with Cox recently in one match of the Junior Davis Cup regional qualifying last month in Montreal. "We played well together in Canada," said Cox, "so we decided to play here, and it worked out pretty well."
The girls champions, Bolender and Capra, have known each other for a long time and played together before, but it was also in Canada that they began to really click as a team. After clinching the sole spot available for North America in September's Junior Fed Cup with their doubles victory over Canada last month, the two 16-year-olds have gone undefeated as a team, winning a $10,000 Pro Circuit event title just a few weeks ago in South Carolina, and now the Grass Courts.
"I felt like we have played so much together that we are very comfortable with each other," Bolender said. "I know where Treecee (Capra) is going pretty much all the time. Some of the times, they didn't know," Bolender said of Fuller and Stracar, who were playing together for the first time.
Fuller and Stracar had an early lead in both sets, but that advantage didn't last long once Bolender and Capra got going. Having survived three match points in their semifinal win against Jessica Alexander and Lauren Embree, Bolender, who is from Delray Beach, Fla., and Capra, who is from Maryland, but has been training at the USTA Center in Boca Raton, were not about to panic when down a break early in a set. Fuller and Stracar battled in every game, but too many errors cost them any chance to put real pressure on Bolender and Capra.
"They are both really talented," Capra said. "I think if they played more together they would be much more comfortable."
Bolender and Capra will now go back out on the Pro Circuit this summer, hoping to continue their winning streak.
"A lot of the players are more experienced, have played more on the pro tour," admitted Capra. "But I think that at our last tournament, we showed them we were good too."
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Friday, June 13, 2008