The ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl finals were played last night in Costa Rica, and thanks to livestreaming available on the website, I have some observations to share that aren't based on looking at online draws.
First, the tournament looks to be a hugely popular in the community, with all the trappings of a professional event. The stands were full, there were on-court interviews and what looked like mainstream TV crews handling the stream. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best quality stream, but they did replay almost every point, so if you couldn't quite see it the first time, you could usually figure it out the second time around. And there was a graphic score box as well. With several large national corporations featured in the sponsor banners, it was difficult to distinguish the surroundings from those of a major professional event; those players heading to the Florida Futures will certainly find themselves competing in a much different atmosphere.
I didn't watch the girls doubles final, but it went to a match tiebreaker (in his blog, former Clemson coach Chuck Kriese says much better than I could what is so objectionable about the no-ad, match tiebreaker format now being played in ITF events), with No. 3 seeds Anita Husaric of Bosnia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro defeating Sweden's Rebecca Peterson and Ecuador's Domenica Gonzalez 6-3, 5-7, 10-7. Although Peterson and Gonzalez were not seeded, the real surprise was the second round loss of top seeds An-Sophie Mestach and Demi Schuurs, who had won the Casablanca Cup and the Eddie Herr.
In the boys doubles final that followed, Americans Michael Rinaldi and William Kwok proved that their Casablanca Cup title was no fluke, as they followed up last week's championship with another one last night. Kwok and Rinaldi were up 8-6 in the match tiebreaker against another unseeded pair, Gabriel Pereira and Francisco Rambon of Brazil, lost the next three points to face a match point, but saved that and took the next two points for a 7-6(3), 3-6, 11-9 victory. Kwok and Rinaldi had beaten the No. 2 seeded team of Hugo Dellien of Bolivia and Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador in the second round, and No. 3 seeds Bjorn Fratangelo and Alex Petrone in the semifinals, both 10-8 in match tiebreakers, so they had good memories to draw on when facing a similar scenario in the final.
The girls singles final saw top seed Mestach defend her 2010 Coffee Bowl title and win her second straight title of 2011 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over No. 2 seed Caroline Garcia of France. Mestach had beaten Garcia in the final of the Casablanca Cup 7-6(5), 6-2, and now both head to Australia for the junior championships, where they could meet yet again. The U.S. presence in Australia is dwindling; Krista Hardebeck has withdrawn, leaving Monica Turewicz and Christina Makarova as the only American girls in the main draw.
In the boys final, it was also No. 1 versus No. 2, and again the top seed took the winner's trophy. Dellien came out blazing in the opening set and although there were many close and lengthy games, especially in the second set, Dellien was never broken in his 6-2, 6-4 win over American Fratangelo. Fratangelo had an opportunity to get back even after getting broken in the third game of the second set, earning two break points with Dellien serving at 4-3. But a backhand error and a service winner erased them and Fratangelo didn't get another chance, as Dellien served very well down the stretch.
Neither Dellien nor Fratangelo is playing the Australian juniors. Dellien is entered in the Grade 1 Copa Gatorade, which begins tomorrow in Venezuela; Fratangelo will undoubtedly play in some of the Pro Circuit Futures in Florida this month.
Speaking of which, Plantation has already produced some interesting results in qualifying. Nick Chappell upset top seed Jesse Witten in yesterday's second round, but today was beaten by Thai Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski will play Christian Harrison tomorrow for a spot in the main draw. For more on the Futures, including former Pepperdine star Andre Begemann's win in Brazil this week, see Challenger Tennis.
The first round of qualifying for the women's $25,000 in Plantation took place today, and all 16 seeds in the 64 draw advanced with straight-set victories. For the draws and results, see the usta.com Pro Circuit page, and make sure you check out the Tournament Notes links, which provide great introductions to many of the players who are regulars on the circuit.
Sunday, January 9, 2011