Ana Konjuh won the Girls' 18s singles title.
© Michael Baz
Laslo Djere won the Boys' 18s singles title.
© Michael Baz
By Pat Mitsch, special to USTA.com
PLANTATION, Fla. – After opening so many eyes in America, Ana Konjuh will return to her home in Croatia and finally close hers.
The 14-year old Konjuh defeated the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-2 Sunday to capture the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships Girls' 18s singles title at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center.
Konjuh’s victory on the clay courts comes a week after she won the Girls' 18s singles title at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship. She joins American Lauren Davis (2010) as the only two girls to win both titles in the same year.
After a whirlwind two weeks in which Konjuh, the No. 7 seed, swatted and sliced her way to 12 straight singles victories, she said the first thing she’ll do upon returning to her home in the Croatian capital of Zagreb is, well, sleep.
"Sure, I have a lot of confidence, but I’m also tired. I have to relax a bit right now," said Konjuh, the youngest Orange Bowl Girls 18s champion since 14-year old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in 2007. "I played a lot of matches. I got tired a bit. Now I’m just going to go home, spend time with my family, practice and prepare for (the) Australian Open."
Siniakova, meanwhile, will end the year at No. 2 in the ITF World Junior rankings after falling to Konjuh in the Eddie Herr semifinals and Sunday’s Orange Bowl final, when Konjuh, who turns 15 on Dec. 27, made a change in match strategy.
"I wanted to play different, but she also played different. She played a little more slice, so I couldn’t make something with that," said Siniakova, the No. 2 seed. "We know each other, so, it was a little bit different than the last match."
Serbia’s Laslo Djere also produced a similar result against a familiar opponent in the Orange Bowl Boys' 18s singles final, taking down No. 12 Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-4. The two also met in the Eddie Herr semifinals, with Djere beating Ymer before falling in the Boys' 18s title match.
"I finally managed to finish this match in the second set, unlike the week before," the 17-year old Djere said. "It would be a bad feeling to lose two finals, so I gave my best to win this final, and it’s a great result. I’m very happy."
Leading 5-4 in both the first and second set, the 10th-seeded Djere broke the 12th-seeded Ymer each time, closing out the match when Ymer sailed a forehand long on double match point.
"His down-the-line backhand was really good. He was stronger than me mentally," Ymer, 16, said. "I don’t know. I couldn’t serve it out, 5-4, both sets. I think he played smarter than me."
In the Girls' 18s doubles final, Taylor Townsend (Stockbridge, Ga.) and Gabby Andrews (Pomona, Calif.) defeated Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez and Marcela Zacarias, 6-4, 7-5. The title caps a year in which Townsend and Andrews also won doubles titles at the US Open and Australian Open.
"It means everything," Andrews said. "Playing doubles with Taylor means a lot, because I know she’s not going to be playing a lot of juniors next year. Hopefully I’ll play some of the tournaments she’s going to play next year. But yeah, it’s amazing."
The 16-year old Townsend will end 2012 as the International Tennis Federation’s No. 1-ranked junior girl in the world, the first American girl to do so since 1982, and will turn pro beginning in 2013. She left what was likely her final junior event carrying the signature bowl of oranges awarded to Orange Bowl champions.
"I’ve played Orange Bowl like four times, and I’ve never gotten a bowl of oranges," Townsend said. "So, I’m happy."
In the Boys 18s' doubles final, Chile’s Christian Garin and Nicolas Jarry (Key Biscayne, Fla.) defeated Lithuania’s Lukas Mugevicius and Russia’s Alexander Vasilenko, 6-2, 7-6(3).
"Amazing," Jarry said. "We haven’t lost a match playing – us two (together) – three tournaments in a row, so – very happy end to the season."
The doubles title for Garin, of course, follows his Boys' 18s singles title at Eddie Herr a week ago.
"This tournament, I felt so tired at first. The first matches were a little tough," Garin said. "The last three weeks were really good. This tournament was so important for me. For next year, I will try to play better here and try to play the (singles) final. I hope to be back here."
Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships
Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Plantation, Fla.
(10) Laslo Djere, SRB d. (12) Elias Ymer, SWE, 6-4, 6-4
(7) Ana Konjuh, CRO d. (2) Katerina Siniakova, CZE, 6-3, 6-2
Christian Garin, CHI/Nicolas Jarry, USA d. Lukas Mugevicius, LTU/Alexander Vasilenko, RUS, 6-2, 7-6(3)
Gabrielle Andrews/Taylor Townsend, USA d. (8) Victoria Rodriguez/Marcela Zacarias, MEX, 6-4, 7-5