Riffice wins boys' 16s title; 18s finals set at Metropolia Orange Bowl

December 14, 2014 07:59 AM

By Pat Mitsch, USTA

PLANTATION, Fla. – Since 1992, only two boys have won the 16-and-under titles at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl Junior Championships in the same year. One is a household name. In due time, the other might be, as well.
Sam Riffice, a 15-year-old from Roseville, Calif., overcame Estonia’s Mattias Siimar, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5, to win the Metropolia Orange Bowl Boys’ 16s title on Saturday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center, joining Grigor Dimitrov (2006) as the only players to win both the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl 16s titles in consecutive weeks.
“This means everything to me,” Riffice said. “These are definitely two of the biggest tournaments of the year. The whole year I trained to do well here, and to be able to win both of them is incredible.”
Though no one is quite anointing Riffice “Baby Federer,” a nickname bestowed upon the Bulgarian Dimitrov, who is now the world No. 11, Riffice, seeded second at the Orange Bowl, played impressively the whole week, dropping only seven games combined in his third-round, quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
“I’ve never really done that well on clay,” Riffice said. “My best surface has always been hard. I was just playing a lot heavier here and was just trying to be a lot more patient, work the point more and just really be more physical than the opponent – just play stronger, play the tennis I need to play when I’m older. That’s what I was trying to do here.”
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu also employed a successful game plan in Saturday’s Girls’ 16s final, defeating Peruvian Dominique Schaefer, 7-5, 6-3.
“I’m never going to forget this,” Andreescu said. “And it’s going to help me with my other tournaments, too, because it’s going to give me confidence.”
Sofia Kenin had to feel the same way after what she called the biggest win of her young career. The 13th-seeded Kenin ousted No. 2 CiCi Bellis in the Girls’ 18s semifinals, 6-3, 6-2, to reach Sunday’s girls’ 18s final, which will be all-American, after qualifier Ingrid Neel beat Monika Kilnarova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
Kenin and Bellis had already met in two semifinals this year – at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships and at the Easter Bowl. Each time, Bellis won and went on to win the tournament.
This time, Kenin had a game plan for Bellis, who just clinched the ITF’s year-end No. 1 junior ranking on Friday.
“I was moving her,” Kenin said. “I served really good, and I’ve definitely improved my forehand. Whenever I’ve played her, my forehand would always break down, and I’ve definitely improved my forehand.
“She’s had a great year, and we’re still friends, so … I hope we’re still going to talk later,” Kenin laughed.
Bellis will still get a shot at an Orange Bowl title in doubles. She and the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, the tournament’s top seeds, will face off against seventh-seeded Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic and Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia.
Kozlov, too, will get a chance at winning two Orange Bowl titles, as he and Michael Mmoh, the No. 1-seeded doubles team, will meet the No. 2-seeded Koreans Yunseong Chung and Seong Chan Hong for the Boys’ 18s doubles championship.

Click here for Saturday's results.

For draws, schedules and complete tournament information, visit orangebowltennis.org.