Opelka, Kalinskaya Claim ITF International Hard Court Titles
by Colette Lewis
, 25 August 2014
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Top seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia and unseeded Reilly Opelka picked up their first ITF Grade 1 titles Saturday at the International Hard Court Championships in College Park, Maryland. Kalinskaya won when No. 2 seed Gabby Ruse of Romania retired trailing 6-2, 2-1, while Opelka overcame No. 2 seed Tim van Rijthoven of the Netherlands 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).
Opelka certainly earned his title, beating the No. 6, No. 11, and No. 4 seeds en route to the semifinals, where he defeated top seed Michael Mmoh
4-6, 6-3, 6-1, avenging a round of 16 loss to Mmoh in Kalamazoo two weeks earlier.
Van Rijthoven found himself in tiebreakers in four of his first five matches, winning all of them, including a 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(1) decision over No. 7 seed Alexander Bublik of Russia in the quarterfinals.
As the week wore on, the weather conditions deteriorated, with rain forcing delays and eventually requiring a move to the indoor hard courts at the Junior Tennis Champions Center. The boys semifinals were finished indoors, and both finals were played under the domed courts on Saturday as the rain came down steadily outside.
Despite their big serves and powerful games, neither Opelka nor Van Rijthoven had much experience with indoor tennis, with Opelka training at the USTA's National Center in Boca Raton, Florida and Van Rijthoven at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Van Rijthoven dropped his first set played indoors to No. 9 seed Jordi Arconada, but adjusted to the conditions to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 semifinal victory.
As expected, breaks of serve were scarce in the boys final, with just one by each player in the two-hour and 30-minute match. Opelka had been broken in the opening set serving at 4-5, but he had also come from a set down against Mmoh in the semifinals, so he didn't panic. He collected his break in the second set, taking a 3-2 lead he did not relinquish.
Although Opelka had to work to hold in his service games, he did manage to keep the lead without facing a break point, and when it came time to serve out the second set, he did it with style, hitting three consecutive aces to give himself three set points. Van Rijthoven handled the next kick serve and Opelka missed a volley, but a service winner on the next point evened the match at a set apiece.
Van Rijthoven, who is 17 and had been at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy for two years, came close to being broken for a second time in the match at 1-1 in the third set, but saved five break points to hold.