Vallejo, Marcinko win Orange Bowl 18s singles titles; Kuzuhara reaches boys' final
Paraguay’s Adolfo Daniel Vallejo and Croatia’s Petra Marcinko won the Orange Bowl boys’ and girls’ 18s singles title, respectively, as the world’s premier junior tennis tournament concluded on Sunday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla. American Bruno Kuzuhara, from nearby Coconut Creek, fell to Vallejo in the final, but it was a U.S. sweep in the 16s division, headed by girls' singles champ Kate Kim and boys' winner Quang Duong.
Vallejo (pictured above, left), the tournament’s No. 7 seed, upset No. 2 seed and hometown favorite Bruno Kuzuhara, 6-2, 6-3. Kuzuhara grew up approximately 20 minutes from the Plantation facility and was cheered on by a spirited crowd.
"It means everything. It's the biggest title of my career," said Vallejo. "I've been working very hard to have this title, but I never imagined I could actually get it, to be honest... [In the final,] I did what I did the whole week. I was very solid, I was very good mentally. I didn't miss at all, basically, and I'm very happy."
The 17-year-old Kuzuhara (right) was also honored with the inaugural Lew Brewer Award, named after longtime tournament director Lew Brewer, who is retiring at the end of the year, and created to commemorate his years of service to both the Orange Bowl event and junior tennis. The award will be given each year at the Orange Bowl to one American boy and one American girl that demonstrate excellence on and off the court. The inaugural girls’ winner was Liv Hovde (16, McKinney, Texas).
"I've known Lew from every year I've come here to play," said Kuzuhara. "He always runs this tournament so smoothly. The work he's done for the USTA, I know everyone will remember that."
While disappointed to fall short in the final, the junior world No. 5 was able to keep a positive mindset when reflecting on his run: "It's amazing making the final here. So many great names, so many great players that have reached the final here and played on this same exact court.
"It was kind of a surreal experience," he added, discussing the crowd support he enjoyed throughout the week, and particularly in the final. "It was kind of my mini version of Davis Cup with everyone supporting me. It's amazing. I know all of these people from when I was 5 or 6, just starting out playing tennis. Them seeing me grow up throughout the years and reaching this level, it's just something amazing."
Meanwhile, in the girls’ 18s singles final, the fifth-seeded Marcinko (above, right) defeated her doubles partner, No. 6 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Marcinko and Shnaider teamed up to beat Brenda Fruhvirtova and Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic in the girls’ 18s doubles final, 7-6, 6-0. Marcinko became the first player to sweep the Orange Bowl girls’ 18s titles in at least the past 28 years (doubles champions records are as of 1993).
"It was so unexpected. It feels so amazing," said Marcinko, who lost in the first round at the 2020 event.
On competing against her doubles partner in the final, she added: "It was so weird. At first I didn't feel like it was a real match. I felt like it was practice. Then after I kind of realized, 'Yeah, I'm playing a final right now.'"
In the boys’ 18s doubles final, Lithuania’s Edas Butvilas and Jordan’s Abedallah Shelbayh defeated the American pair of Nicholas Godsick (17, Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Ethan Quinn (17, Fresno, Calif.), 6-2, 6-4.
Godsick and Quinn (left) won the Orange Bowl 16s doubles title one year ago, and also reached the doubles semis at the US Open Junior Championships earlier this year.
"It was a really fun experience last year winning our first Orange Bowl together, and I think it's even more special that we got to get to the final this year," said Godsick, son of former OB winner Mary Joe Fernandez and tennis agent Tony Godsick. "I think as an American team, to reach the final two years in a row is pretty special."
"I think we've definitely established ourselves within the ITF community," added Quinn, who's a University of Georgia commit for 2022. "Our run to the semifinals at the Open definitely helped, but now it's making it known that it's not a fluke."
The 16-and-under division wrapped up on Saturday, with Americans sweeping all four titles. Quang Duong (15, Manhattan Beach, Calif.) defeated Alexander Frusina (15, Conroe, Texas) in the boys’ 16s singles final, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, while Kate Kim (16, Lake Worth, Fla.) won the girls’ 16s singles title when her opponent, Stephanie Yakoff (16, Fort Lee, N.J.), retired in the second set due to a knee injury.
Andrew Delgado (16, High Point, N.C.) and Tanney Povey (16, Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.) won the boys’ doubles title, while Anya Murthy (15, Fremont, Calif.) and Piper Charney (16, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) took home the girls’ 16s doubles crown.