Grace Min captured her first title of 2014 in Innisbrook, Fla.
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By McCarton Ackerman, USTA.com
It was a stellar weekend for Team USA, with four young Americans advancing to form a pair of U.S. vs. U.S. finals on the USTA Pro Circuit.
The all-American clashes took place at the $25,000 Innisbrook Women’s Open in Innisbrook, Fla., where 2011 US Open girls’ singles champion Grace Min defeated two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs, 7-5, 6-0, and the $15,000 USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas in Calabasas, Calif., where current NCAA standout Marcos Giron upset No. 3 seed Jason Jung, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
In a matchup of unseeded players, Min wore down Gibbs and stormed through the final eight games of the match. The world No. 183 has already won three USTA Pro Circuit singles titles on clay (all in 2012), and this marks her first pro title on hard courts. Min played extensively on the WTA last year, qualifying for five events and winning a round at the WTA Premier event in Charleston, S.C. She also qualified last year for both the US Open and French Open.
Gibbs has continued to post impressive results since turning pro after winning her second NCAA singles title last May. The world No. 192 won the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event last July in Yakima, Wash., and also won her opening round at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event held at her alma mater of Stanford University. Last month, Gibbs also qualified for the WTA event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
With friends and family cheering him on, California native Giron broke Jung at love in the final game of the match to win his first USTA Pro Circuit title of 2014. In addition, Giron won two USTA Pro Circuit Futures in California last September, in Claremont and Laguna Niguel. The current No. 1 player at UCLA is set to move from No. 532 to inside the Top 450 when the new rankings are released next week.
“It’s really nice that it’s close by home and it’s a local tournament that I was able to win,” Giron told the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s like nostalgia over here. It brings back good memories. I’ve practiced on these courts a lot, so being able to play a tournament here, I felt really comfortable and I think that probably helped me some to get the title.”
The runner-up showing continues Jung’s rapid rise; he has climbed 200 spots in the last year, to No. 347 in the world. The former all-Big 10 performer at the University of Michigan won the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event last August in Edwardsville, Ill., while also reaching the finals at two other ITF Pro Circuit events. Jung has even begun making inroads in Challengers in 2014, reaching the round of 16 at the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Dallas and at two other $50,000 events.