Mina, Dabrowski Win 18s Championships, Halebian and Addison Capture 16s Titles at Dunlop Orange Bowl
by Colette Lewis
, 17 December 2009
The summer-like heat and humidity in Miami last week proved no obstacle to Dunlop Orange Bowl boys 18s top seed Gianni Mina of France. The 17-year-old from Guadeloupe felt right at home in the tropical conditions at Key Biscayne's Crandon Park, collecting his first Grade A championship with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 8 seed Arthur De Greef of Belgium.
Mina was the only favorite to leave Miami with the winner's crystal bowl of oranges however. Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski
, the girls 18s champion, was unseeded and ranked outside the ITF Junior Top 40 coming into the tournament, and her 6-3 2-6, 7-5 upset of 2009 World Junior Champion Kristina Mladenovic
of France in the final was particularly unexpected given the number of matches she had played over the previous three weeks.
16s champions Alexios Halebian and Breaunna Addison of the United States also earned titles without the benefit of a seed. The pair, who train at the USTA's National Center in Boca Raton, both faced Americans in the finals, with Halebian defeating qualifier Marcos Giron 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 and Addison downing No. 10 seed Kelsey Laurente 6-1, 6-2.
In Mina's victory over friend and frequent doubles partner De Greef, the Gael Monfils look-alike served well throughout the match and got the only break he needed in the first set at 4-4. Jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, Mina's victory seemed assured, but the 17-year-old Belgian fought back, winning four of the next five games. Serving for the match at 5-4, Mina started the game with an ace and a service winner, closing out the championship four points later with a confident volley.
"This was my best match of the tournament," said the first boys 18s Orange Bowl winner from France since Guy Forget in 1982.
"At the beginning I played not so good, but after 3-all, I begin to be more aggressive."
In his first round match, Mina struggled to overcome lucky loser Nikolai Haessig of Canada, but benefitted from a default in the next round. His opponent, Russian Richard Muzaev was defaulted, along with Victor Baluda of Russia and Campbell Johnson of the U.S., for their roles in an off-court altercation Tuesday night. Mina's opponent in the semifinals, Justin Eleveld of the Netherlands, retired trailing 6-4, 3-0, giving the Frenchman a decided advantage over De Greef, who had won two three-setters during the week, one a nearly four-hour marathon with American Nick Chappell in which De Greef saved a match point.
Mina, the 2009 French Open boys finalist, has lofty goals for 2010.
"I feel now I have to win a grand slam," said Mina, who is planning to play all four junior slams in 2010 in hopes of securing the world junior No. 1 ranking. "Before it was a Grade 1, a Grade A, now a grand slam."
Dabrowski had never won so much as a match in an ITF Junior Grade A event prior to last week, but the 17-year-old from Ottawa had gained confidence from reaching the finals in the Grade 1 Yucatan World Cup and the semifinals at the Grade 1 Eddie Herr the following week.
In her second round win over No. 7 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia at the Eddie Herr, Dabrowski was awarded the match when Putintseva was given a game penalty for racquet abuse at 6-5 in the third set. In her semifinal win over No. 8 seed Nastja Kolar of Slovenia at the Orange Bowl, Dabrowski was awarded the match when Kolar was given a point penalty for racquet abuse trailing 5-6 in the third set tiebreaker.