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Mayu Crossley, Gerard Campana Lee win 2022 Orange Bowl 18s singles titles

Victoria Chiesa | December 11, 2022


History was made Sunday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla., as Japan's Mayu Crossley and South Korea's Gerard Campana Lee became the first players from their respective countries to win the famed Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships.

 

Crossley, a 16-year-old who's trained in nearby Boca Raton, Fla. at the Evert Tennis Academy since last fall, knocked off a fellow 16-year-old, fifth-seeded American Clervie Ngounoue, in the girls' singles final, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, to complete a rare feat in addition to making history.

 

She was also the singles champion at last week's Eddie Herr International Junior Championships held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., making her the first girl to complete the junior version of the "Sunshine Double," dubbed when an ATP or WTA player wins the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open back-to-back, since American Lauren Davis in 2010. 

“I didn’t think that I would win [the tournament], I was just happy to make the final,” Crossley said in victory. “I had no pressure on me. I’m always the challenger so that’s good for me. I was able to play relaxed.”

 

In addition to Ngounoue, Crossley also defeated No. 11 seed Tatum Evans, also of the U.S., in Round 1. USTA Foundation Excellence Team product Ngounoue, who trains at the Metropolitan Tennis & Education Group (MTEG) National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter in Silver Spring, Md., won the junior Australian Open doubles title in January, and was bidding to win the most prestigious singles title of her career in her second Orange Bowl final. She previously reached the Orange Bowl 16s final in 2019 as a 13-year-old.

The girls' draw saw No. 1 seed Ella McDonald of Great Britain beaten in Round 1 and No. 2 seed Tereza Valentova withdraw prior to her Round 3 match, but the boys' 18s final saw the event's two top players play for the trophy. No. 1 seed Campana Lee, 18, knocked off No. 2 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 to join Crossley in making history.

 

“I am so tired; I don’t feel any emotion, but in a couple of hours, I think I will realize that I won a very big tournament and I will be very happy,” Campana Lee said in victory.

 

He fell one match short of sweeping two trophies. Campana Lee was also the runner-up in the boys' doubles final with France's Paul Inchauspe; the No. 1 seeds were beaten in the championship by fourth-seeded Bulgarians Adriano Dzhenev and Iliyan Radulov, 

 

“The first day with my coach we saw the list [of former champions] before my first match and we didn’t see any Korean players so I told him it would be funny to see my name up there and now I guess it’s going to be there,” he continued. “It’s amazing to see more Asian players coming up competing against the best in the world.”

 

Unseeded Americans Tyra Caterina Grant and Iva Jovic won the girls' 18s doubles title with a 6-4, 2-6, [10-7] upset over No. 2 seeds Ranah Akua Stoiber and Mingge Xu of Great Britain. They, like Crossley, beat two seeds en route to victory, having also upset the fourth seeds, American AvaKrug and Argentina's Luciana Moyano, in Round 1. 

 

Jovic, 14, reached the singles semifinals before being beaten by her U.S. Billie Jean King Cup teammate Ngounoue.

 

The Orange Bowl 16s champions were crowned Saturday. Japan's Naoya Honda won the boys' tournament and Alexis Nguyen of El Dorado Hills, Calif. won the girls' event. Honda, seeded No. 5, defeated unseeded American Matthew Forbes of the United States 6-3, 6-4 to become the first Japanese boy to claim an Orange Bowl singles title, while Nguyen toppled another American, unseeded Claire Hill, 6-1, 6-2.

 

An American girl has now won the 16s title in Plantation in each of the last five years. 

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