Andreescu, Kecmanovic claim Orange Bowl titles

December 14, 2015 07:56 AM

By Pat Mitsch, special to

PLANTATION, FLA. – It was the biggest win of Bianca Andreescu’s young career. It was also most certainly one of the longest.

The 15-year old Canadian (pictured above) weathered several rain delays and a familiar opponent to capture the Metropolia Orange Bowl Girls’ 18s singles title, defeating American Kayla Day, 7-6(7), 6-4, in a match that spanned nearly six-and-a-half hours on the Frank Veltri Tennis Center’s green clay stadium court.

On a finals day that served as a microcosm of the tournament, which saw a record-setting volume of rain play havoc with the schedule, several rounds of pop-up showers interrupted the latest and biggest meeting between Day and Andreescu, who took the court at 10 a.m. and finished at 4:30 p.m.

Andreescu’s win puts her in elite company, as she becomes the fifth girl to win the Orange Bowl 16s and 18s singles titles in consecutive years. In doing so, she joins the likes of Chris Evert (1968-69) and Mary Joe Fernandez (1984-85).

“It feels amazing. I’m only 15, and this is like the next step to winning a Grand Slam,” said Andreescu, a Mississauga, Ontario native, coached by former world No. 3 Nathalie Tauziat. “Today was really crazy. It was like, ‘On and off, everything.’ But after I got off the court, I was just like, ‘I gotta stay focused.’ I put on my music, I visualized and I came on court, and then I did my thing.”

Afterward, Andreescu said she was off to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate with a piece of cake. Meanwhile, Day, a Santa Barbara, Calif., native, reflected on opportunities missed against Andreescu, whom Day had beaten just a few weeks earlier at the Yucatan Cup junior event in Mexico.

“It was definitely a tough match. It could have gone either way,” Day said. “I think she just played a little bit better than me in the end, especially in the crucial points. I thought I served pretty well in the first set, and then in the second my serve was kind of a liability. I wasn’t making a lot of first serves and I think that hurt me a lot.”

Miomir Kecmanovic had the opposite sentiment after a dramatic Boys’ 18s singles final that finished under the lights. The ninth-seeded Serb beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, the third-seeded Greek, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5), in match that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes, overcoming nerves and hitting several key serves in the decisive third-set tiebreak.

“I just tried to stay aggressive the whole time,” Kecmanovic said. “The first set it paid off. The second I got a little tired, but I managed in the third to pick it up and eventually win. It feels good. I feel very tired, but it was a great match and a great fight from Stefanos and me, and I’m happy to win.”

The Boys’ and Girls’ 16s finals turned into somewhat of an Argentinian celebration, as compatriots Sebastian Baez and Maria Carle took the Boys’ and Girls’ 16s singles titles, respectively. Baez, the No. 9 seed, beat third-seeded Swede Karl Friberg, 6-2, 6-1, in the morning. Carle, the diminutive No. 2 seed, ousted Romanian qualifier Gabriela Tatarus, 6-2, 7-6(7), a match in which Carle battled back from a 5-1 deficit in the second set after the lengthy rain delay, much to the delight of a lively Argentinian cheering section.

“I’m very happy,” Carle said, through a translator. “It was very important we were both able to win. I want to congratulate Sebastian and all the other kids from Argentina who were here supporting … It was tough, after the rain, to come back. I started off a little bit slowly. I never thought I was going to be able to come back after being 5-1 down and the other girl playing so well, but I was very happy to be able to do it.”

In the Boys’ 18s doubles final, the Japanese team of Yuta Shimizu and Yunosuke Tanaka beat Turkey’s Ergi Kirkin and Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, 7-5, 7-6(2). In the Girls’ 18s doubles final, fifth-seeded Pranjala Yadlapalli, of India, and Tamara Zidansek, of Slovenia, beat Greek Eleni Christofi and Moldovan Anastasia Detiuc, 6-2, 6-2.

Baez swept the Boys’ 16s titles, as he and Miguel Fernando Pereira, of Chile, beat Canadian Nicaise Muamba and American Brian Shi, 6-2, 6-3. In the Girls’ 16s doubles final, Americans McCartney Kessler and Emma Kurtz beat No. 4 Ania Hertel, of Poland, and Mihaela Lorena Marculescu, of Romania, 6-3, 4-6, [10-6].