Top Seeds Langmo, Kirkov, Mateas Take Tennis Plaza Cup Titles
by Colette Lewis
, 1 February 2013
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The weather was outstanding and so were the top seeds at the USTA Regional Level 3 tournament in Coral Gables, Florida, with six of the eight No. 1 seeds winning titles in the three-day, 32-draw events held at five sites in the Miami area.
On the Har-Tru courts of Salvadore Park, No. 1 seeds were perfect, with Christian Langmo taking the boys 18s championship, Vasil Kirkov winning the boys 14s title, and Maria Mateas claiming the girls 14s title.
Langmo had the most difficult path to the final, winning three close straight-set matches before losing the second set to unseeded Alfredo Perez
in the semifinals. At 3-3 in the third set, Perez was defaulted for his third instance of an audible obscenity, a situation that was entirely new to Langmo, who said he had never received more than a point from an opponent's penalty before.
Langmo's adversary in the final, No. 3 seed Catalin Mateas, was involved in much less drama along his route, winning all four of his matches Saturday and Sunday in straight sets.
For Monday's final, the skies remained sunny and the temperatures comfortably in the 70s, but a brisk wind added to the challenge for Langmo and Mateas, who had difficulty sustaining rallies in the opening set.
"At the beginning, both of us were holding serve easily," said Mateas, a 15-year-old from Massachusetts who trains at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton. "We couldn't have a rally over four or five balls, and I think it took us a little bit to get used to the conditions. But after that we had a good match - the level was pretty high."
The first ten games went to the server, until Mateas gave Langmo a couple of unforced errors to drop serve. Serving for the set, Langmo earned his first set point at 40-30, but Mateas, who has a one-handed backhand, hit a winner from that side to get back to deuce. After Mateas sent a forehand wide, Langmo had a second set point, and this time he converted, hitting a forehand winner within an inch of the sideline to secure the first set.
"I think he just kind of lost focus at 5-all," said Langmo, a 16-year-old from Boca Raton. "He played a couple of loose points, I took advantage of that, and that was the difference."
Mateas again saw his concentration waiver in the second set, and serving at 2-2, unforced errors put him behind 15-40. He saved the first break point with an ace, but then double faulted. Langmo consolidated the break with a love hold for 4-2. Serving to stay within striking distance in the next game, Mateas again was broken, due to his own mistakes more than any stretch of great play from Langmo. With a 5-2 lead, serving for the match, Langmo could see the finish, and that proved more than he could handle. Mateas hit a backhand lob winner to earn two break points, and he converted the second when Langmo's attempt at a backhand pass went wide.