Frank and Stephens Claim International Spring Championships
Mkrtchian and Hardebeck Win 16s Titles
by Colette Lewis
, 16 April 2009
Mitchell Frank and Sloane Stephens came into the International Spring Championships seeded ninth, but after a week of outstanding tennis, they emerged with their first ITF Grade 1 titles. And as an added bonus, the two 16-year-olds enhanced their positions in the ITF World Junior rankings for the upcoming Junior Slams in Paris and London.
The only sets either player lost last week the USTA Training Center-West in Carson, Calif., were to the top seeds. Stephens, who has recently moved to California and trains at Carson, dropped the opening set to No. 1 seed Lauren Embree
in the quarterfinals. She battled back to earn a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 decision over the Eddie Herr champion
, eased past No. 10 seed Nicole Gibbs
6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals and zipped past unseeded Grace Min
6-1, 6-2 in the championship match.
The 14-year-old Min had played outstanding tennis throughout the week, taking out No. 2 seed Beatrice Capra in the second round and No. 3 seed Valeria Solovieva of Russia in the semifinals to reach her first Grade 1 final.
But she was broken at love to start the championship match, and was unable to work her way back into it, with Stephens using her powerful ground game to keep Min on the defensive.
"I wanted to come out really aggressive, because Grace fights really well, and she beat a lot of good players in this tournament," Stephens said. "I think she might have been a little nervous at the beginning, and she missed a few balls she shouldn't have missed. She couldn't really settle down."