©Colette Lewis 2008--
Double digit seeds Alex Domijan and Beatrice Capra took their first ITF Grade 1 titles Saturday on another calm and crystal clear day at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the University of Tulsa campus.
Domijan, seeded No. 12, outlasted No. 4 seed Ryan Lipman 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a well-played match that featured an intriguing contrast of styles, while Capra, the tenth seed, trumped No. 1 Pamela Montez of Mexico 7-6(2), 6-2.
Lipman, who woke up with a sore throat and headache, suffered a heavy fall in the third game of the first set, tweaking his knee, and seemed slightly off his game during the remainder of the set, which quickly went to Domijan.
When the 6-foot-6 Floridian took a 3-1 lead in the second, there was no question who controlled the match, when all of a sudden, Domijan went off the boil and Lipman heated up.
Domijan was broken at love to immediately give back the break, Lipman held at love for 3-3 and in the four consecutive games that Lipman won in that stretch, he dropped only two points. With his forehand the go-to shot from the baseline, Lipman volleyed well and finished any high or short balls with easy putaways. Domijan missed an overhead during that four game stretch, a rare occurrence, and even more rare, dropped his racquet in disgust at his play during that run. The usually placid 17-year-old could be heard muttering to himself between points by the few spectators in attendance.
"I don't feel like we both played well at the same time," Domijan said. "It was up and down. I was up and he was down and vice versa."
After Lipman closed out the second set, he was the player with the momentum, but after Domijan held in the first game, Lipman was broken in a four deuce game, when Domijan found the range on a couple of passing shots. But Lipman broke back and pulled even, only to miss two crucial volleys serving at 3-4 that contributed to the break.
"I was real positive after I got the break back," said Lipman, who turned 18 this month. "But then I made three or four unforced errors and kind of handed it to him. It was kind of frustrating to go out like that."
Lipman's strategy was to bring Domijan into the net, but the results were mixed as Domijan acquitted himself well when drawn forward. Domijan admitted that he rarely comes in of his own volition, and yet Lipman, who is much more comfortable there, complimented his opponent on his composure.
"He executed his shots well at the net," said Lipman.
The confidence that Domijan felt was evident when serving out the match, as he made two nice pickups coming forward, one off a drop shot that he stroked by Lipman for a winner. Domijan's forehand, always a fearsome shot, also contributed, the last one handcuffing Lipman at the net on match point.
For Domijan, it was a welcome result.
"It's good to win any tournament. I haven't won a tournament in a long time," Domijan said. "I've been in a couple finals--in the Futures (final in June) I was kind of unlucky because I played Devvarman--but it's good to win any tournament."
Beatrice Capra, known as Trice (pronounced Treecee) to her friends, would agree to that. Although she has won several doubles titles on the Pro and Junior Circuits, getting that final win in singles has been difficult.
"I'm really happy I was able to close this one out," said Capra, who lost in both the ITF Grass Court and USTA Clay Court finals this summer. "I don't think I ever really had the confidence to actually close it out. But throughout this tournament I felt I was playing really well, and when I was beating those girls pretty easily (in the first three rounds), it pumped me up."
Capra got off to a good start, going up 4-1, but Montez came back to even the first set at 4-4. A series of four consecutive breaks led to the tiebreaker, where the string of failing to hold serve continued for Montez, who lost all four points she served to give a relieved Capra the set, 7 points to 2.
"When I got up 4-1, I was like, oh my god, I could actually win the tournament," Capra said. "I started thinking about all this other stuff when I should have been focusing just on the points. I got really tight, but I was happy I was able to close it out."
An hour and 45 minutes after the match had begun, Capra and Montez were only midway through the second set, but the end came relatively quickly when Capra held for a 4-2 lead. Montez, who uses the drop shot as a major weapon, continued to employ it against Capra, who was by now expecting it after seeing it often in the first set. Running down each one and usually responding with an excellent version of her own, Capra broke Montez at love and played superb defense in the final game to capture the win.
Montez admitted that dropping the first set took a psychological toll.
"I think I was really bummed about the first set," said Montez, who lives and trains in the Palm Spring, Calif. area. "I had a lot of chances there. Overall it was an okay tournament considering the amount of tennis I've been playing lately. So I'm not completely disappointed."
The day didn't get any better for Lipman and Montez in the doubles, as both dropped those finals too.
As the No. 2 seeds, Montez and Cierra Gaytan-Leach were up against the formidable pairing of Jessica Alexander and Lauren Embree, who play together at every opportunity. Seeded No. 6, Alexander and Embree were forced into only one deciding tiebreaker, in the quarterfinals against No. 4 seeds Capra and Alexandra Cercone, and in Saturday's final they secured a 6-3, 6-2 win, The "deciding point" in the no-ad scoring used now in ITF Grade A and Grade 1 tournaments often went to Montez and Gaytan-Leach, but it was usually when they were serving. Alexander and Embree were not broken in the match, a rarity in girls doubles.
"With Jessica we usually always win it because she has such a big serve, and the return we just kind of poach off of," said Embree, who was speaking for her teammate due to Alexander's laryngitis. "I think that's what made the difference, our serving."
In contrast the boys doubles final was filled with breaks, with No. 2 seeds Jordan Cox and Evan King overcoming No. 1 seeds Lipman and Matt Kandath 1-6, 6-3, 10-7 to end the top seeds' nine-match winning streak in Grade 1 competition.
There were ten breaks in the 16 games played in the first two sets, with Cox failing to hold the first three times he served and Lipman 0 for 3 in the second set. In the tiebreaker, that changed, with only one break, against Cox, in the first nine points. Cox got it back, and evened the tiebreaker at 5-5 with a forehand winner, but surrendered the advantage with a forehand error to give Kandath and Lipman a 7-5 lead.
But then the netcord bestowed its blessings on Cox and King, as two consecutive points on Lipman's serve were decided in their favor after the ball caromed off the netcord.
"We got a couple of lucky net cords," said Cox. "A couple in a row really helped us," King agreed. "I have to say that helped out a ton," said Cox. "We just focused on every single point, took it one by one, and got it done," said King.
For complete draws, visit the TennisLink site. For brief videos of the finals, see the post below.
Saturday, October 18, 2008