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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quinzi, Flink Take ITF Grade A Copa Gerdau Titles; Klahn Wins Costa Mesa Futures

The ITF South American junior clay court swing ended today with the crowning of the Grade A Copa Gerdau champions in Brazil. Top seed Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy took the boys title 6-4, 6-3 over No. 14 seed Stefan Kozlov of the US, while the hometown fans left disappointed after No. 2 seed Varvara Flink of Russia defeated No. 5 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 for the girls championship. I watched as much of the two matches as my occasionally frozen stream would permit, but I'm not complaining, as any stream is better than none.

Flink, 16, played poorly in the opening set, making a lot of unforced errors, while Maia was hitting her big left-handed forehand deep and with pace. Despite the one-sided score and all her errors, Flink had reason to hope, with all the games close. It appeared Flink's strategy was to move her 6-foot opponent around, especially forward, but Flink's drop shot attempts in the first set rarely made it over the net. 

In the second set, Flink played much better, reading Maia's serve and getting more returns in play. In the third set, Flink made almost no errors, handling the Maia forehand and serving extremely well. She was up 5-0 and had a match point before Maia finally held for 5-1, and served out the next game easily, with an ace ending it. 

Now 20th, Flink will move up in the ITF junior rankings with her first Grade A title. She has already won two Grade 1s this year.

Quinzi won his first Grade A last year in Italy and has been No. 1 in the junior rankings. Now No. 3, this win will help him in his quest to get back there, although this summer's junior slams are likely to ultimately decide that position.

Against the 15-year-old Kozlov, Quinzi started slowly, getting broken at 1-1 in the first set. Finding Kozlov's varied paces and style a bit confusing at first, Quinzi was the victim of several perfect Kozlov drop shots early in the match, but he began to anticipate and counteract them later in the set.  Quinzi got the break back with Kozlov serving at 4-3, hitting a winner off a Kozlov drop shot on game point. After an easy hold, Quinzi got another break of the Kozlov serve with some nifty net play of his own.

Kozlov's game, which relies less on power than on point construction and feel, is usually executed with very few unforced errors and a lot of defense, but in the second set, the errors were frequent and the defense less effective than usual.  Quinzi, a 17-year-old left-hander, was able to find the lines when he needed to, yet could also stay in the long points.  He had a 2-0 lead in the second set, lost his serve for 2-1, broke for a 3-1 lead, then never faced a break point the rest of the match.

At the Grade 1 in the Philippines, No. 3 seed Cameron Norrie of New Zealand won the boys title, beating No. 4 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4.  The girls title went to top seed Ipek Soylu of Turkey, who defeated No. 13 seed Katie Boulter of Great Britain 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.  It is the 16-year-old Soylu's second straight Grade 1 title; she also beat Boulter in the final last week in Malaysia.

Photo of Cho and Klahn courtesy of tournament
At the $15,000 Pro Circuit Futures in Costa Mesa, Calif., Bradley Klahn won his first Futures singles title, defeating Min-Hyoek Cho of Korea 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Until this month, Klahn, who had lost to Sanam Singh in the final of the Calabasas Futures last week, hadn't played a Futures tournament since 2010, spending his time either in Challengers and ATP events, or competing at Stanford. His ranking will improve from its current 226 when these points are added, but he told tournament press aide Joel Beers that isn't important to him.

“I’m not really concerned about rankings,” said Klahn. “It’s been drilled into me for a long time that all that matters is constantly improving. If I’m performing well, the rankings will take care of themselves.”

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Innisbrook, unseeded Julia Glushko of Israel defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the final. Mayr-Achleitner had defeated 17-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. The doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Alize Lim of France, who beat unseeded Paula Goncalves of Brazil and Maria Irigoyen of Argentina 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

There is no men's event this week on the US Pro Circuit. The women have a $50,000 tournament in Osprey, which is always one of the strongest fields of the year, given its proximity in time and geography to the Sony Open.