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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Osorio Serrano and Forejtek Claim US Open Junior Titles in Final Opportunity; Girls Doubles Title Goes to Bartone and Selekhmeteva

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Colombia's Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic ended their junior careers with US Open titles Sunday, defeating the home country's hopes for a 2019 junior slam title at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Osorio, seeded fourth, raced through 16-year-old qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova 6-1, 6-0, while Forejtek, also the No. 4 seed, came back to beat No. 8 seed Emilio Nava 6-7(4), 6-0, 6-2. Five different Americans reached a total of six junior slam singles finals this year, but none was able to hoist the winner's trophy.

Osorio was open about her goal of winning a junior slam, after falling in the semifinals of both the US Open last year and the French Open this year.

"It's unreal," said the 17-year-old, who expressed her appreciation for the noisy cohort of cheering Colombians supporting her on Court 17. "It's been a really great week for me. I'm just so happy and thankful for this. I'm blessed, and I can't believe I win."

The only game Osorio surrendered was a break of serve in the third game, with Yepifanova unable to convert game points in her first two service games. It took only 23 minutes for Osorio to capture the first set, holding with a good first serve after saving two break points at 5-1.

"I have been working really hard on my serve, because I think that is one of the things that I really need to work on to be a pro....I am really focused on that," said Osorio, who hit five aces in the match, including one on championship point. "She was a really aggressive player, so I was thinking of moving her a lot. Also put a lot of first serves in, because she is going to attack my second serve."

Osorio had needed five sets to win her quarterfinal and semifinal matches Saturday, while Yepifanova had needed six, and both had their left thighs wrapped at the start of the match. But Osorio stayed committed to her game style, which she described as "move a lot and move my legs."

"I was tired too, but I was just focused on moving a lot."

Yepifanova admitted that her surprising run this week had worn her down a bit by the final.

"Obviously this wasn't my best match, and I think I she played good, credit to her," said Yepifanova, who now lives in Bradenton Florida. "I don't think it was a 1 and 0 match; I was up 40-15, 40-30, ad out most of the games and I just couldn't convert them. I think I played low quality tennis on important points, which made a huge difference. She is quick, and her ball is heavier than girls I played yesterday. I was slower, I was heavy on court and easy shots weren't going in today."

Osorio, the first Colombian to win a junior slam singles title, is heading back to Colombia for a few weeks, but is returning to the United States to play some $60,000 tournaments this fall. Already moving into the WTA Top 250 after two titles in $25,000 tournaments last month, Osorio is aiming for the Australian Open women's qualifying.

Yepifanova said she is rethinking her schedule after her results this week. Originally planning to play the ITF Junior Circuit Grade B1 in Kentucky next month, along with some $25,000 events, she may opt to concentrate on the Pro Circuit before playing the major Florida junior events that close out the year.
Forejtek had experience with junior slam finals before today, as the winner of both the Australian and Wimbledon boys doubles titles this year. But taking on Australian Open singles finalist Nava in Louis Armstrong Stadium was a big step up for the 18-year-old, who had never been past the round of 16 at a junior slam in his previous seven appearances.

Although the level in the first set was high for both players, Forejtek felt he was too passive, partly because Nava did not allow him many chances to play aggressively.

"I think first set he played really well," Forejtek said. "[How] he was serving, I didn't have chances for any breaks, maybe one break point. His level was really good....But then I started playing more aggressive, which was better against him, and he started making more mistakes after. But his level maybe dropped a bit, my level got higher."

Nava made a rash of unforced errors to lose the second set in 20 minutes, and Forejtek went up an early break in the third. He appeared to be cruising along, up 40-0 serving at 3-2, but picking on several second serves, Nava won the next four points for a chance to get the break back. He set up an easy forehand off a short ball on break point, but it found the net, and Forejtek went on to hold for a 4-2 lead.

"I had that ad point, I was pretty confident with it, second serve, hit a nice inside out and inside the court I think I thought too much where to go, when I generally have it so clear, and I ended up missing it," Nava said. "He played great. In the first set he was solid, but was missing a bit. In the second, he just was letting his forehands go, gained a lot more confidence in his serve as well, and it was tough to bounce back."

Nava, who had been serving well throughout the tournament, particularly in his two wins on Saturday, saw that part of his game drop off in the final two sets.

"In the first set, it was pretty good, pretty solid, but in the second set it definitely dropped off pretty hard," said the 17-year-old from Los Angeles. "I was getting a little frustrated, so in the third, I just started kicking it, just trying to make it, get the confidence back."

When Forejtek converted his second match point, his celebration was subdued, with nothing more dramatic than a fist pump. But in his press conference in the main interview room, Forejtek was obviously excited about his first junior slam singles title.

"It's really great," Forejtek said. "I won grand slams only in doubles, and in singles, it's just unreal. It's so good; it's big motivation also for the future."

Although Forejtek is considering playing the ITF Junior Masters this fall, he is ready to move full time into pro tennis, although an even bigger challenge awaits him next weekend, as a member of the Czech Davis Cup team in its tie with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Forejtek is part of the very young Czech team, which includes Jiri Lehecka and Dalibor Svrcina, who also played in the US Open Junior Championships, and 18-year-old Tomas Machac, along with ATP veteran Jiri Vesely.

Although Forejtek cautioned that he doesn't know who will play he was glad he had an opportunity to play on a big court in today's final in preparation.

"I'm happy I played on the big courts, because it's a bit different from other ones," Forejtek said. "I was always playing on the small courts this tournament. Always. So I'm really, really looking forward to it, and let's see how it will go."

Nava, who turns 18 in December, is also going to turn his focus to the Pro Circuit, with his next tournament likely to be the $25,000 event in Houston the week after next.
The girls doubles champions were also crowned on Sunday, with No. 5 seeds Kamilla Bartone of Latvia and Oksana Selekhmeteva taking the title with a 7-5, 7-6(6) win over unseeded Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic of France.

Bartone and Selekhmeteva had lost in the Wimbledon doubles final earlier this summer, so this victory was particularly satisfying.

"We are so happy to win," said Bartone. "We were so nervous before the match. We knew we won against them at the French Open, but the finals here is totally different, different surface."

"And more pressure," Selekhmeteva added. "It's the last step for the trophy that we wanted for so long."

Serving for the match at 5-3 in the second, Bartone was broken, and Selekhmeteva admitted to a bit of doubt at that stage of the match.

"They played good in that game, and at 5-all, we were not upset, but we were trying to stay more focused and more calm," Selekhmeteva said.

"She said to me, be prepared for the tiebreak," Bartone said with a laugh. "And then at 6-6, she said, this tiebreak."

"They were going to the net on every point and they were playing so good," Selekhmeteva said. "They are a good team. But we tried to stay focused and do what we had to do. I like to volley and I like to cross."

Bartone came up with one of her signature drop shots at 6-all in the tiebreaker.

"She's the best," Selekhmeteva said. "It was 6-all and they were hitting to her and she was hitting drop shot. Seriously? At 6-all hitting drop shot in tiebreaker."

"I just had a lot of adrenaline in my blood, so it happened," Bartone said.

Bartone has another year of juniors and Selekhmeteva has two more, so next year they should continue to be a force at junior slams.

"Next year I want to play all the grand slams partnering with Oksana of course," Bartone said.