American Champions Abound at 2009 Eddie Herr
by Colette Lewis
, 10 December 2009
At the 2008 Eddie Herr, Americans took home half of the singles titles, with four champions calling the United States home. Last week they improved on last year's impressive showing, taking six of the eight titles and sweeping both the 12s and 16s age divisions. Denis Kudla
, the No. 4 seed, gave the U.S. its second consecutive boys 18s title, defeating No. 3 seed Marton Fucsovics
of Hungary 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4.
Kudla, a 17-year-old from Arlington, Va., lost his first service game of the three-hour match, but held in every subsequent game, and that was enough to subdue the powerful Fucsovics.
The quality of play of both competitors impressed the several hundred spectators who came out to the IMG Bollettieri Academy"When I first came here I think I lost first round the first four years in a row here," said Kudla, whose name will follow 2009 winner Alex Domijan's on the list of champions. "I never thought I was going to play well enough to win the tournament, so it's pretty cool."
The girls 18s champion, Russia's Daria Gavrilova, has had quite a different experience at the Eddie Herr - she hasn't lost a singles match in Bradenton in two years. Last year she captured the 14s title, breezing through every match in straight sets. This year the 15-year-old had a much tougher challenge, needing a third set tiebreaker to advance over qualifier Danielle Collins in the first round and saving two match points in the quarterfinals against Valeriya Solovieva. In the final, against Chinese wild card Di Zhao, Gavrilova needed all her skills to post a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
"I started good and then she started to play really, really good in the second set," said the third-seeded Gavrilova, who was a finalist at the French Open this year.
"She was driving the rallies. In the third set, we both played good. I won because I was missing less, and I was changing the rhythm. Against a hard-hitter, that's how I play."