Four Americans reach
2019 Orange Bowl finals
Esteban Camino | December 14, 2019
PLANTATION, Fla. – Saturday’s action saw four Americans reach the singles finals in their respective divisions at the 2019 Orange Bowl. No. 5 seed Robin Montgomery will play for the girls’ 18s championship, while Clervie Ngounoue, Ashlyn Krueger and Gabrielius Guzauskas will represent the U.S. in the girls’ and boys’ 16s finals.
Montgomery, a quarterfinalist at last year’s tournament, will appear in her first Orange Bowl final on Sunday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center.
“It means a lot. I’ve been training for this since I was very young,” said Montgomery, who played two matches Saturday because rain had postponed several matches earlier in the week. “It’s me fighting for every point. Knowing that this is the last tournament of the year, I want to finish strong, so I am more positive on court, fighting on every point.”ADVERTISEMENT
In her first match of the day, Montgomery was in the zone to win her quarterfinal against Barbora Palicova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-3, before the skies opened and disrupted play once again at the Orange Bowl.
After play resumed, the Washington, D.C., native faced off against Celia Belle Mohr in the semifinals, defeating the Frenchwoman, 6-4, 6-2.
“This afternoon, I played well overall,” Montgomery said. “She is a tough competitor, but I was able to keep my mind together and play my game and not worry about what she was doing on the other side. That’s what I’ve been doing well this entire tournament.”
“I haven’t played two matches [in one day] in a long time,” she continued. “I was kind of nervous that my body might physically break down because I know all the matches were going to be physically and mentally tough. I think I surprised myself with playing the way I played these two matches. I trusted my training, I trusted my game, and that’s why I was able to come out on top today.”
Montgomery will face Jana Kolodynska of Belarus in the final.
The other American in the girls’ 18s draw, qualifier Maya Pitts, bowed out in the quarterfinals after a strong performance this week.
All-American 16s Girls’ Final
It will be an all-American final in the girls’ 16s singles draw, with Clervie Ngounoue facing off against Ashlyn Krueger in a winner-take-all match for Orange Bowl glory.
Ngounoue defeated fellow American Bridget Stammel, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the final. The Washington, D.C., native credited her serve for her success.
“Obviously, Bridget played really well. She’s a great player,” said Ngounoue. “I think my serves started working towards the end of the match. I’ve definitely built more confidence in my serve to play out big points. It has progressed a lot and has improved the past few weeks, so I’m very happy about that.”
Building off a quarterfinal appearance at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship, the 13-year-old shared her thoughts on making the final.
“It means so much, coming into this tournament, especially after my results in the ITF at Eddie Herr. I came in with confidence. I’ve been playing pretty well so far this tournament, and it means a lot. I’m happy for it.”
Ngounoue also advanced to the girls’ 16s doubles final with partner Victoria Mboko of Canada, who fell to Krueger, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, in the semifinals.
After dropping the first set, the Flower Mound, Texas, native caught fire and easily won the second set, when rain stopped play for over an hour. When the action resumed, Krueger closed out the match after the players were tied at 4-all in the third set.
“It was fun. I like playing close matches,” Krueger said. “She is a great player, so it was really hard. I had to keep myself calm because I did get upset in the first set, and I didn’t want that to happen again.”
The rain didn’t seem to faze the young American. During the delay, the 15-year-old chatted with her coach, laughed with her friends and stayed positive. “Once they called my court, I stayed focused and took care of business.”
To reach the final, Ngounoue took out the No. 1 seed in the third round, which she acknowledged gave her confidence.
“It means a lot. I had a really rough year with my tennis,” she said. “Coming back into the spotlight a little bit has given me some confidence in my game. It’s really important for me to keep trying, and I didn’t give up. I didn’t take off—I kept training. It’s paid off, and I’m really happy about it.”
Gauzaskas to battle Spaniard for Boys’ 16s title
The 16s boys’ final will pit American Gabrielius Guzauskas (pictured above) against Daniel Rincon of Spain.
Guzauskas was making steady work of No. 3 Marc Othman Ktiri of Spain in a semifinal match that featured several long rallies, before rain interrupted play. After a long delay, the Naples, Fla., native quickly closed out the match, winning 6-3, 6-4.
“I was expecting to play better, but I stayed focused,” Guzauskas said. “I tried to play every point. I was kind of nervous, not going to lie, but I kept playing, and I won.
“He plays on clay. I was expecting a grind and was expecting long rallies… It was mostly mental at the end but also physical. Both of us are great players. Congrats to him for making the semis.”
Guzauskas, who was awarded a wild card into the tournament, has now taken out the No. 1 and 3 seeds en route to the final.
“I’m playing pretty good. I have the confidence,” he said. “I am hitting the ball pretty good and am happy with what I’m doing. Let’s just keep it rolling right now.
“Beating the first seed was a confidence booster, but it was only the first round, so I couldn’t let that distract me to get to the final. I took one match at a time.”
No. 2 seed Jack Anthrop of the U.S. fell to Rincon, 6-2, 6-3, in the other boys’ semifinal.
For complete results, draws, schedule and more, visit the official Orange Bowl website.