Anett Kontaveit won the Girls' 18s title at the 2011 Orange Bowl.
© Michael Baz
Dominic Thiem won the Boys' 18s title at the 2011 Orange Bowl.
© Michael Baz
By Andrew Labovitz, special to USTA.com
PLANTATION, Fla. - After a week of thrilling competition, the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships boys’ and girls’ 18s singles finals were expected to feature tight, competitive matches involving two pairs of highly-seeded players. Both matches were repeats from last week’s Eddie Herr, and the players knew each other well. But neither their opponents nor multiple rain delays could stop Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit and Austria’s Dominic Thiem from respectively roaring their ways to the most prestigious junior titles of their careers at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla.
After reaching the final on Saturday, the fifth-seeded Kontaveit spoke openly about wanting to garner some revenge on No. 2 seed Yulia Putintseva, to whom Kontaveit lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, in the quarterfinals of last week’s Eddie Herr, a tournament which Putintseva ultimately won. She did exactly that on Sunday, coming out firing on all cylinders and banging out numerous winners from her forehand side, which clearly frustrated the fiery and vocal Putintseva.
But the rains came at 1-all in the second set, leading to a 90-minute delay, which gave Putintseva time for rest and rejuvenation while stunting Kontaveit’s momentum. Upon returning to the court, Kontaveit double faulted twice and got broken to go down 1-2. From there, however, Kontaveit regained her form, immediately broke back, and then ripped off four straight games to take the match and the title 6-2, 6-2. With the win, Kontaveit becomes the first Estonian to win an Orange Bowl title.
"I was much more aggressive and played really well today," she said. "I really did attack every ball, and I think that’s what brought me success today. It’s so exciting to win this title, both for myself and for Estonia!"
Like Kontaveit and Putintseva, Austrians Dominic Thiem and Patrick Ofner were also facing off for the second consecutive week. Thiem dominated his countryman in the Eddie Herr final, winning 6-1, 6-0. But unlike Kontaveit, who was able to turn the tables from last week, the seventh-seeded Ofner remained unable to do anything against the more powerful Thiem on Sunday, as Thiem won again by the same 6-1, 6-0 score.
The boys’ final was likewise interrupted by rain in the first game of the second set, but the 40-minute delay did nothing to help Ofner, who was completely overmatched throughout. The win gave Thiem his 18th consecutive victory on the ITF World Junior Circuit, and his third consecutive title including the Yucatan Cup and last week’s Eddie Herr. But this was by far the biggest win of Thiem’s junior career, and came in his last junior event.
"I played very aggressively and made very few mistakes today, and that was the key," Thiem said. "Everyone who plays tennis knows the Orange Bowl, and to win it is definitely big for my career."
Thiem was attempting to capture both the singles and doubles titles on Sunday, but his attempt was thwarted by the British pairing of Liam Broady and Joshua Ward-Hibbert, as the Brits defeated Thiem and Robin Kern of Germany 6-4, 6-3.
In the girls’ doubles final, Americans Jennifer Brady of Boca Raton, Fla., and Kendal Woodard of Stockbridge, Ga., were attempting to capture a lone title for the host country, but ultimately lost to the No. 2 seeded team of Russia’s Victoria Kan and Ganna Poznikhirenko of the Ukraine 6-3, 7-6(3).
Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship
Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Plantation, Fla.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Girls 18s Singles – Final
(5) Anett Kontaveit (EST) def. (2) Yulia Putintseva (RUS), 6-2, 6-2
Boys’ 18s Singles – Final
(1) Dominic Thiem (AUT) def. (7) Patrick Ofner (AUT), 6-1, 6-0
Girls’ 18s Doubles – Final
(2) Victoria Kan (RUS) and Ganna Poznikhirenko (UKR) def. Jennifer Brady (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Kendal Woodard (Stockbridge, Ga.), 6-3, 7-6(3)
Boys’ 18s Doubles – Final
(4) Liam Broady (GBR) and Joshua Ward-Hibbert (GBR) def. (1) Robin Kern (GER) and Dominic Thiem (AUT), 6-4, 6-3