Chung Earns Korea's First Eddie Herr Title in Boys 12s; France's Cascino Takes Girls 12s Championship
©Colette Lewis 2008--
Hyeon Chung powered past Stefan Koslov 6-3, 6-3 to claim Korea's first Eddie Herr championship on a clear and comfortable day at the IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy. The 12-year-old Chung, a No. 1 seed, ripped an impressive number of forehand winners past the feisty Kozlov, who, at 10, was already competing in his third Eddie Herr, and had lost to Chung in the round of 16 in 2007.
Chung, who had his federation coach act as his interpreter, admitted to some nerves and embarrassment when he doubled faulted twice, including on game point, when he was serving for the match at 5-2.
"But I say in my mind to calm down, calm down," said Chung, who had a match point in that game, but overhit a forehand on that opportunity, missed an overhead and then double faulted.
Kozlov had a game point to get to 5-4, but Chung continued to pound the forehand and control the points, a strategy he had used effectively during his six previous straight set wins. On Chung's second chance to secure the title, he hit a backhand wide, but on the third, Kozlov's attempt at a drop shot caught the tape, leading Chung's national teammates and coaches to a jubilant celebration.
"This is very big for Korean tennis," said federation coach Hwan Yoo, who was also trying to keep up with the results of the girls 12s doubles, which featured a Korean team.
Kozlov, who vowed to return to the 12s next year, described Chung's cross court forehand as a "killer."
"I hit to his forehand a little bit, but not easy shots, deep shots" said Kozlov, of Pembroke Pines, Fla. "He came in to the net all the time, when I was trying to hit lobs to break his rhythm."
Chung was not interested in trading any moonballs, and his willingness to take balls out of the air had Kozlov backpedaling frequently. Chung also showed some excellent touch and court presence; in one memorable exchange he returned a ball from a sitting position after a lunge resulted in a tumble.
In the girls 12s final, France's Estelle Cascino handled No. 1 seed Simone Pratt of the Bahamas 6-3, 6-1, with the unseeded Cascino defeating four seeds in her march to the title.
"We were surprised she was not seeded," said the federation coach serving as her interpreter. "She won some international tournaments in Europe and the French team was in the finals of the European Cup this summer."
The only set that Cascino lost in the tournament was in Thursday's semifinal, but that lengthy match didn't produced any tiredness according to her coach, and she scrambled and moved very well against Pratt, a tall left-hander who had also won a difficult three-set semifinal.
Pratt admitted to some fatigue, but wasn't disappointed in her performance in her first final in international competition.
"I thought I played well today," Pratt said.
The girls 12s doubles title went to Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador and Luana Trautwein of Brazil. They defeated Ah Song and Gyungeun Song of Korea 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.
Although the U.S. streak of boys 12s singles championships ends at three, the boys doubles has a U.S. winner, with Deiton Baughman of California and his partner Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia downing Chung and his partner Geonju Shin of Korea 7-6(4), 7-6 (3).
The 12s mixed doubles title went to Kokkinakis and Jovanna Petrovic of Sweden, who took a 6-2, 6-1 decision from Seongchan Hong and Nayoung Kim of Korea.