Majchrzak, Ostapenko Take Eddie Herr ITF Titles; Four Americans Win Championships
by Colette Lewis
, 13 December 2013
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Top seeds and surprise winners collected trophies last week at the Eddie Herr International Championships, with four Americans claiming titles at the prestigious event held at the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Program in Bradenton, Florida. Abi Altick
of Louisana and Alfredo Perez
of Florida took the 16s title, with Bradenton's Adam Neff
capturing the boys 12s championship and Sofia Sewing
, also from Florida, winning the girls 14s.
The ITF Grade 1 18-and-under tournament, played on the Academy's clay courts, was unpredictable from start to finish. The boys competition began with the first round loss of top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, who fell to 16-year-old Sameer Kumar of the United States in a third set tiebreaker, and ended with another tiebreaker - three of them, in fact - with No. 9 seed Kamil Majchrzak of Poland defeating No. 11 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(5).
Majchrzak's trip to the final had been uneventful, with five straight-set victories, while Rublev had struggled through three three-setters, including an energy-sapping 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 semifinal victory over wild card Deiton Baughman of the United States. Still, despite temperatures in the 80s and cramping by both players, the final was an epic, with no way to predict a winner until the final point was played.
Majchrzak served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, and had a match point on Rublev's serve at 3-5, but the 16-year-old Russian saved it with a clutch big serve and forehand putaway. The third set proved to be physically difficult for both players, with neither player showing much enthusiasm for trying to break the other's serve, with seven straight holds to start the set.
After Majchrzak held for 4-3, hitting two consecutive aces to end the game, Rublev again had a brief treatment for cramps and staggered noticeably when exiting his chair. His first serve had nothing of its usual pop, and Majchrzak stepped up his use of the drop shot, which had been quite successful all match long, breaking Rublev on a good one that Rublev nearly reached, despite his cramping.
Serving for the match at 5-3, Majchrzak took a 30-0 lead, but Rublev hit two backhand winners, forced an error, and Majchrzak double faulted at 30-40. Majchrzak, who was now showing signs of cramping himself, continued to miss backhands, and Rublev held for 5-5. It was Majchrzak's turn to let out a yell when he held from 0-30 down, and leading 6-5, Majchrzak had cramping treatment from the busy trainer during the changeover. Rublev held for 6-all, and he and Majchrzak, their faces flush from the hot sun and the exertion, were headed to yet another tiebreaker, this one to decide the championship.
Up a mini-break at 2-1, Majchrzak went to the drop shot well once too often and Rublev stroked a winner when he reached it for 2-2. Majchrzak got four of five first serves in play to take a 5-4 lead, then crushed a backhand winner to give himself two more match points, seemingly days after he had his first back in the second set.
The next point was so tense the crowd was squealing with delight and amazement while it was still in progress, with Majchrzak hitting a good drop shot that Rublev somehow got back over the net, then Majchrzak's pass finding the net cord and popping up for Rublev, who calmly put the volley away.
At 6-5, Majchrzak again got a good first serve in, and made no mistake on the weak return, hitting a forehand winner, then turning to his friends and coach with both hands raised high above his head in celebration and relief. As the spectators who weren't already standing rose to enthusiastically applaud them, he and Rublev embraced at the net, with Rublev slumping in his chair with a towel over his head for several minutes as he waited for the award ceremonies to begin, while Majchrzak accepted the congratulations of his friends and coach.
"I think we both played an excellent match," said Majchrzak, admitting he was still somewhat dazed by his victory. "Andrey changed his tactics and I was a little bit confused, I didn't know what to do. He stopped playing full power, just played very light balls, and I didn't know what to do. I had a little bit problems with my health in the end, but fortunately the trainer helped me, and I couldn't give up. I promised a show."
Rublev didn't take much consolation from his part in the memorable final.
"It was a great match from my opponent, he played really good today. I was so tired after the Futures," said Rublev, having won a three-hour final to take his first Pro Circuit title just two weeks ago at the IMG Bollettieri Academy. "Here at Eddie Herr I had a lot of matches in three sets and getting to the final, I was so really tired. It was 7-6 in the third, so I don't know, it's pretty tough. It was fantastic match, but I lost, and nobody cares about the loser."
Majchrzak was still processing his first Grade 1 title.