Chiang Topples Favorites to Claim Junior Orange Bowl Title
- Abanda, Hong and Nguyen Close 2009 with Championships
by Colette Lewis
, 31 December 2009
Unseeded Californian Yuki Chiang made her final 14-and-under tournament a memorable one, defeating the top three seeds en route to the Junior Orange Bowl girls 14s title last week. She finished with a flourish, downing No. 1 seed Brooke Austin 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match held at the University of Miami's Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
Also taking home a winner's bowl of oranges were Canada's Francoise Abanda
, Korea's Seongchan Hong
and Thien Nguyen
of Vietnam, all of whom prevailed over Americans in their championship matches. Abanda, a No. 1 seed, defeated unseeded Julia O'Loughlin
of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1 in the girls 12s final on the green clay of Salvadore Park. Hong downed fellow No. 1 seed Stefan Kozlov
of Pembroke Pines, Fla. 6-4, 6-2 in the boys 12s championship match and Nguyen, the No. 8 seed, beat Mackenzie McDonald
of Piedmont, Calif., a No. 9 seed, 7-6(2), 6-0 in the boys 14s final. Both boys championship matches were played at the University of Miami.
Chiang, of Ojai, Calif., may have suspected she would have a good showing when she downed No. 2 seed Carolina Costamagna of Argentina in the second round and beat Dunlop Orange Bowl 16s quarterfinalist Estelle Cascino of France, both in straight sets. After dispatching No. 7 seed and Eddie Herr finalist Katy Dunne in the quarterfinals, Chiang overcame a mid-match lapse against No. 3 seed Daria Lebesheva to emerge with a 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 victory over the hard-hitting Belarusian.
Against Austin, in the first all-American girls 14s final since 1988, Chiang was again the underdog, but she took control of the match from its outset, claiming the championship by a 6-3, 6-3 score.
It wasn't quite as easy as the score might indicate however. Up 3-0 and serving in the second set, Chiang found her mind wandering.
"When I was up 3-0, I started thinking about winning, holding that trophy," admitted Chiang, who trains at the USTA Player Development Center in Carson, Calif. "But I did get back to what I was supposed to do. I found it, and it just clicked."
After pulling even with Chiang at three games all in the second set, Austin dropped her serve again, for the seventh time in the match, and hopes of a comeback for the 13-year-old from Indianapolis faded.
"She just played three more great games," Austin said. "(Against Lebesheva) she made a lot of errors, but today, she just didn't make any errors at all."
Playing great defense also proved an effective strategy against Austin, who hits the ball on the rise and can find unanticipated angles in seemingly neutral rallies.