Stewart and Liu Claim Junior Orange Bowl Titles; Hong and Dubrivny Add to Championship Resumes
by Colette Lewis
, 30 December 2011
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Celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Junior Orange Bowl is often the first international experience for the hundreds of 12- and 14-year-old competitors who flock to Miami in mid-December. Of this year's champions, however, only one - girls 12s winner Claire Liu of the United States - was new on the global junior tennis scene.
Boys 12s champion Artem Dubrivny
of Russia added a Junior Orange Bowl title to the Eddie Herr championship
he won early in the month, and the Har-Tru courts of the Salvadore Park proved he could dominate on two surfaces.
Dubrivny lost only one set in his seven victories, although the top seed was challenged in the opening set of the championship match by qualifier Albert Lim of the Philippines before emerging with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win.
Lim, who had taken out No. 5 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina in the first round, and No. 2 seed Alex del Corral of the United States in the quarterfinals, took a 3-1 lead in the final, surprising the 12-year-old Russian with his powerful forehand.
But Dubrivny began to use his drop shot with regularity, noticing that Lim, although physically imposing, struggled moving forward.
Whether it was his 11 matches in nine days, his nerves or his opponent, Lim also didn't serve as well as he had in his previous wins, with Dubrivny attacking Lim's second serves at every opportunity.
After the 12-year-old from Moscow had secured the tiebreaker after several costly unforced errors by Lim, he began to zero in on another effective strategy: short crosscourt angles to Lim's forehand. Dubrivny built a 5-0 lead in the second set, with Lim unable to locate any effective counterattack.
"Because he is so big, I have to move him a lot around the court," Dubrivny said, through a translator. "That's the way to beat him."
Dubrivny wasn't familiar with Lim, who did not play the Eddie Herr, but his strategy worked to perfection, resulting in the first Junior Orange Bowl title for a Russian boy.
The American girls were one of the top stories of the Junior Orange Bowl this year, with seven of the eight semifinalists in the 12s and 14s hailing from the United States.
Girls 14s champion Katerina Stewart
took full advantage of the home courts, with the Miami native finishing an impressive week of tennis with a 6-1, 6-3 upset of top seed and Eddie Herr 16s champion Tornado Ali Black
in the final.
Known as Killer Kat to her friends and family, who wore T-Shirts specially designed by her aunt to announce their allegiance in the championship match, the sixth-seeded Stewart lost only 16 games in her seven victories, although she saved her best performance for the final.
The 14-year-old Stewart, who trains at her father's academy in Miami, showed no sign of nerves despite the big occasion, although she admitted after the match that the T-shirts embarrassed her a little.
"I love to have people watch me, so it really helped," Stewart said of the several dozen supporters, who cheered loudly after her frequent winners. "I was anticipating a harder match, so it was a little surprising, but I stayed in the moment and played my game, and I won."
Black opened the match with a hold, but Stewart played nearly error-free tennis in the games that followed, and Black could not find any rhythm. Stewart was able to keep the rallies neutral, no easy task against the usually rock solid ground strokes of Black and broke Black in her next three service games, taking the first set with the last break.