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Monday, March 28, 2011

Bouchard, Monteiro Win Copa Gerdau Titles; O'Koniewski Named Talbert Award Winner; California ITF Stretch Begins in Claremont

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Thiago Monteiro of Brazil picked up their first ITF Grade A titles yesterday at the Copa Gerdau in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Bouchard defeated No. 15 seed Viktoria Malova of Slovakia, whom she had lost to last week at the Banana Bowl, 6-1 6-2 in the final. In the semifinals, the third-seeded Bouchard beat top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russis, getting revenge for a second round loss at last year's Eddie Herr.

I've been watching Bouchard's results closely since she won the Eddie Herr 16s title in 2008 as a 14-year-old and I thought she was on her way to the Top 10 of the ITF Junior rankings when she won the Pan American Closed B1 the following year. She displayed such toughness against Ester Goldfeld during that cold and windy final in Tulsa, but the injuries and illnesses she overcame on that day persisted, derailing most of her 2010 season. Bouchard, who turned 17 last month, started out well this year, beating Lauren Davis at the Australian Open before falling to Monica Puig in the semifinals, and has now reached the Top 10, rising to No. 6 this week.

Monteiro, 16, didn't distinguish himself on hard courts, losing in the first round of the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl, and Australian Open, but his results picked up this spring on clay. He won the Asuncion Bowl two weeks ago, and although he barely survived Great Britain's Kyle Edmund 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(8) in the Copa Gerdau semifinals, the No. 6 seed had enough left to take out top seed and world No. 2 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Monteiro's win puts him at No. 11 in the junior world rankings.

In the doubles, Marco Aurei Nunez of Mexico and Kaichi Uchida of Japan, the sixth seeds, won the championship over eighth seeds Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Gonzalo Lama of Chile 7-6(1), 6-7(4), 10-5. The girls doubles championship went to second seeds Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador and Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay, who defeated seventh seeds Aneta Dvorakova and Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3.

The four recipients of the Bill Talbert award, the National Sportsmanship award presented annually by the USTA, are usually announced at the USTA's spring semi-annual meeting, but the recipients frequently know much earlier and local stories often precede the official announcement (the USTA meeting is this weekend in Naples, Fla.). That's the case with this Island Packet article on Molly O'Koniewski, the Hilton Head resident who will be playing for the University of Virginia this fall. O'Koniewski and her family will be invited to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony this July in Newport, Rhode Island, which, from what I've heard from all the previous winners, is one of the highlights of their tennis careers. Congratulations to Molly and to the other three winners, whose names I'll post as soon as I know them.

The California ITF swing began today at the Claremont Grade 4, now in its second season on the US schedule. Top boys seeds are William Kwok, Mikhail Vaks and Richard Del Nunzio. The top three girls seeds are Monica Turewicz, Gabby Andrews and Kyle McPhillips. The draws and order of play can be found at the USTA ITF site. I will be covering the International Spring Championships next week in Carson and the Easter Bowl the following week in Rancho Mirage.

Also of interest from today is Sloane Stephens' win in doubles at the Sony Ericsson Open. Stephens and Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, who received a wild card into the doubles draw, are now into the quarterfinals after their 1-6, 7-6(9), 10-7 victory over No. 7 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy. According to this article from the WTA site, Stephens and Wickmayer saved four match points.

And the Lauren Davis article from USTA magazine that I mentioned last week is now available online at usta.com.