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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bencic and Garin Win Singles Titles in French Open Junior Championships; ITA All-America List Now Available

Throughout the seven days of the junior competition at Roland Garros, there was drama galore, but on Championship Saturday, all four titles were settled in straight sets.

Unseeded Christian Garin of Chile never trailed in his 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, while No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland suffered only a brief lull in her 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 5 seed Antonia Lottner of Germany.

Garin got the first break of the match with Zverev serving at 1-2, and held the next two times until he was faced with serving out the set at 5-3. The 17-year-old, who was playing in his first French Open and only his fourth junior slam, had two set points at 40-15, but  lost four straight points to put Zverev back on serve at 4-5. Zverev, a year younger that Garin, couldn't hold however, with Garin converting his third set point.

The second set score looks as if it was relatively easy, but Garin was required to save a break point in his first three service games, which he did, taking a 4-1 lead. That was only one break of serve, but when Zverev was broken in the next game, any thoughts of a comeback evaporated. Garin held at love, becoming the first junior slam singles winner from his country since Fernando Gonzalez won the French boys title in 1998, and only the third overall, with Marcelo Rios claiming the US Open boys title in 1993.

The Roland Garros website, which doesn't really cover the junior tournament, just the finals, did post this brief article on Garin's victory. In it, he is described as being over 6-feet tall, which means he has grown since I last saw him six months ago at the Orange Bowl. In the photo, you can see how much taller Zverev is, and I noticed that he had grown in the previous four months when I saw him at the International Spring Championships in Carson back in April.

The 16-year-old Bencic kept her perfect 2013 record in juniors intact with her win over Lottner. Now 23-0 in ITF junior events in 2013 (her last loss was to Ana Konjuh in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Orange Bowl), Bencic needed only 23 minutes to win the first set.

Lottner started well in the second set, taking a 3-0, two-break lead, but in a match that saw the returner win 10 of 16 games, that obviously wasn't safe. Serving at 1-3, Bencic was down 0-40 and saved another break point in the longest game of the match, making it 3-2. She broke Lottner to pull even, then saved another break point to take a 4-3 lead. After again breaking Lottner, who held her serve only once, in the second game of the second set, Bencic was to serve for the match.  As in the fifth game of the set, she was down 0-40, but she won the next five points to claim the title, the first for a Swiss girl since 1994, when Martina Hingis won her second girls French Open title at age 13. The brief account of the match from the Roland Garros website is here.

For a longer look at the finals, including quotes from the winners and losers, see Sandy Harwitt's article at the ITF Junior website. The gallery also includes trophy photos of all the winners and finalists.

The girls doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who defeated unseeded Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador and Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 7-5, 6-2.

The boys doubles champions are Great Britain's Kyle Edmund and Portugal's Frederico Silva, who defeated Garin and Nicolas Jarry 6-3, 6-3.  Edmund and Silva, the 2012 US Open boys doubles champions, were up 4-0 in the second set, only to lose two deciding points on their own serves to put Garin and Jarry back in it. They couldn't hold the next game however and Edmund and Silva finished it with no further drama.

Edmund and Silva saved match points in their opening round 4-6, 6-4 13-11 win over Hyeon Chung and Duck Hee Lee of Korea, but in this article on BBC Sport, Edmund explains why they work as a team.  The article also notes that Edmund is the first British player to win a French Open title in 31 years, since John Lloyd won the mixed doubles title with Australian Wendy Turnbull.

The ITA published the 2013 list of All-Americans Thursday, with KU Singh of Georgia not among them, despite his initial seeding at the NCAAs. I presume a school can request a player's removal under the admittedly unusual circumstances of his departure.