Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bellis Wins Les Petits As, Goes Undefeated in Europe; Tennis Plaza Cup Finals Set for Monday

CiCi Bellis became the first US girl to win Les Petits As since Bethanie Mattek in 1999, the year the 13-year-old from Atherton California was born.

The third-seeded Bellis defeated top seed Andreea Rosca of Romania 6-1, 6-2 in 51 minutes in Sunday's final. Up 6-1, 5-0, Bellis had match points on Rosca's serve, but didn't convert, and squandered another while serving for the match at 5-1, but broke Rosca to add the singles title to the doubles title she and Jaeda Daniel won on Saturday.

Last year American Francis Tiafoe won both singles and doubles at Les Petits As, and, like Bellis, Tiafoe also won the Aegon Teen Tennis singles championship in Bolton the week before. But Bellis, the 2011 USTA girls 12s champion, went one better, sweeping all four titles in the two Tennis Europe Grade 1 championships, a remarkable accomplishment. Bellis is the first girl to win both singles and doubles at Les Petits As since Russian Daria Gavrilova did it in 2008.

The boys title went to Italian Samuele Ramazzotti of Italy, the No. 2 seed, who defeated top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-6(8), 0-6, 6-0. Ramazzotti is the first Italian, boy or girl, to win the Les Petits As title.

For photos and complete draws, see the tournament website. Draws are also available at the TennisEurope website.

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Coral Gables, FL--

The finals are set at the Tennis Plaza Cup USTA Regional Level 3 in Coral Gables, Florida, with top seeds competing in six of the eight finals. The girls 16s and girls 12s are the only exceptions, and the 12s division lost its top seed, Tyra Hurricane Black, before the tournament began.

At Salvadore Park, where the quarterfinals and semifinals were played today in the boys 18s and boys 14s division, top seed Christian Langmo got the most unusual win of his tennis career in the semifinals, when his opponent, unseeded Alfredo Perez, was defaulted from the match at 3-3 deuce in the third set.

Perez was defaulted for his third audible obscenity in the match, the first two coming in the last game of the first set when he was serving trailing 3-5.

The rallies between Langmo and Perez had been of extremely high quality throughout the first eight games, with both hitting the ball deep and with pace. The Har-Tru courts at Salvadore Park prevented first-strike tennis, which both Perez and Langmo would have excelled at on a faster surface, and the result was entertaining points that featured offense, defense and even occasional net play.  Neither player was making many unforced errors, and the frustration of having to win points began to take its toll of Perez.

At 3-5, 0-30, after a Langmo winner, Perez yelled out "he's playing out of his f***ing mind" and a roving umpire gave him a point penalty, making it 0-40.  Perez responded with two consecutive aces, but on the third break point, Langmo hit a difficult backhand volley winner.  What Perez said next was not audible from where I was standing, but it was audible to the same roving umpire, who then gave him a game penalty.

Langmo got a hold of serve without hitting a ball, and after Perez held for 1-1, Langmo took the next three games. Perez appeared to have forgotten about the incident and any comments he made were not profane, and he got two consecutive breaks of Langmo, his first of the match to take a 5-4 lead. Perez couldn't serve it out however, getting to deuce but no closer with a Langmo forehand forcing an error to make it 5-5.

Langmo held, and with Perez serving at 5-6, 30-30, Perez failed to get a first serve in, which had bailed him out of tight spots in the previous games. He netted a forehand to give Langmo a match point, and when a Perez forehand appeared to go an inch or so long, he might have won it. But Langmo didn't call it out, hit it back then stopped and checked the mark and called it out. The assistant referee on the court ruled he had not made a prompt call and had played the ball. This sent Langmo into a funk and after Perez won the next two points to make it 6-6, Langmo was still saying "I already won this match."

The tiebreaker was all Perez, and Langmo said he did let the un-match point get to him.

"I probably let that bother me for the rest of that set, and it showed in the tiebreak," said Langmo, a 16-year-old from Boca Raton. "Having a match point is obviously a big thing, and I figured that I'd won the match because the ball was out, I just called it late. But I was able to regroup for the third."

Langmo benefitted from the 10-minute break between the second and third sets.

"For me I think it was a good thing," Langmo said. "It let the momentum kind of level off, stopped his momentum and put us back on even terms, I think."

The third set continued with both boys playing well and holding serve until, at 3-3, Perez let a 40-15 lead get away. When he failed to win a third game point, he shouted that he was playing like the Spanish word for excrement. The assistant referee checked with her Spanish-speaking colleague to make sure she had heard it correctly, and called both boys to the net, where she awarded the match to Langmo. Langmo shook Perez's hand, then Perez tossed his racquet in the direction of his bag and after a few seconds sat down and loudly said the same word again. Because he was defaulted for misconduct, the 15-year-old from Coral Gables was not allowed to play his doubles match later in the day.

Langmo said he had never been awarded so much as a game, let alone a match, for his opponent's misconduct. Langmo said he understood how Perez might forget he was on the edge of default.

"I think he knew, but sometimes when you're in the situation, it's tight, it's just a reactionary thing," Langmo said. "You really can't help it. So you just have to practice controlling yourself sometimes. It's never good to win a match that way, but I'm happy I got through it."

Langmo's opponent in Monday morning's final is No. 3 seed Catalin Mateas, who has yet to drop a set in his four victories. Mateas beat unseeded Bernard Tefel 7-5, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 5 seed Stephen Watson 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals. Watson didn't have the energy to stay with Mateas after needing over three hours to defeat unseeded Jake Stefanik 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in their quarterfinal contest.

In the boys 14s final Monday, top seed Vasil Kirkov will play unseeded Antoine Sanchez. Kirkov defeated doubles partner Boris Kozlov, last year's Plaza Cup boys 12s champion 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals, with Sanchez surprising No. 2 seed Morgan Dill 0-6, 6-4, 6-0. Sanchez trailed 6-0, 3-0 before winning 12 of the next 13 games.

The girls 14s final will feature another Mateas, Catalin's sister Maria, the top seed. She will play No. 4 seed Maria Ross. The girls 14s were played at Coral Gables Country for the first two days, but the finals will be Monday morning at Salvadore Park.

The girls 18s final at Riviera Country Club will be between No. 1 seed Katerina Stewart and No. 4 seed Kristin Wiley.

At the Biltmore Tennis Center Monday, the 12s and 16s finals are on tap.

In boys 16s, Reilly Opelka will play unseeded Nikola Samardzic for the title, and in the girls 16s, it will be No. 6 seed Bridget Forster against unseeded Leyla Azaeva.

The 12s, which played the first two days at Tropical Park, will finish at the Biltmore, with No. 2 seed Zoe Hitt and No. 7 seed Whitney Osuigwe playing for the girls title. The boys 12s final will be between No. 1 seed Adam Neff and No. 2 seed Tyler Zink.

Draws are at the TennisLink site.


JD said...

Colette, do you know where Jordan Cox has been? He hasn't played since Lexington in July.

Tennis dad said...

Well, at least there was a ref at this tournament.

1/2 the time there is one overworked ref covering 10 courts.

And tournament directors are saying they don't have enough money to fund these events anyway, and pay for more than one ref.