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Tournament Summary
Opelka and Galfi Claim Eddie Herr ITF Titles; Riffice and Sewing Capture 16s Championships

For the first time in the history of the Eddie Herr International ITF tournament, two American boys met in the final, with unseeded Reilly Opelka taking home the title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed Michael Mmoh at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida.

18s champion Reilly Opelka
© ZooTennis.com
Excellent weather all week brought out large crowds, and hundreds gathered on a cool and cloudy morning for the boys final. Mmoh, a 16-year-old who has been training at the IMG Academy for four years, was in the midst of the best tennis of his career, claiming the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed in Tulsa, a $15,000 Futures in Texas and the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City in the previous two months. He had been pushed to three sets on three occasions during the week however, and saved a match point against Tommy Paul in the third round, while Opelka had used his big serve to dominate opponents, winning every match in straight sets.

True to that form, Opelka didn't drop serve in the first set of the final, hitting three aces in a row in his second service game and breaking Mmoh at love for a 3-2 lead, which held up, as he served out the set at love.

Mmoh, who had lost in three sets to Opelka in the semifinals of the Grade 1 International Hard Courts in August, battled through a difficult first game in the second set, and had four break points in the second game, but couldn't convert. Opelka had some luck, with one break point saved with a net cord winner, but he continued to hit the ball aggressively and move forward, even when he was on the verge of dropping serve.

"It was part of the plan to come in," said Opelka, a 6-foot-10 17-year-old from Palm Coast, Florida, who lost to Mmoh in straight sets in Kalamazoo. "Making volleys is part of it. Even missing it is no big deal, because if I'm finding my way to the net, there's constant pressure on him. Making passing shots on the run, especially in big points in the match, continuously is not easy to do. If he can, then that's too good. That's the mentality I had."

Mmoh actually did break Opelka once with that very running forehand pass, but Mmoh was already down a break when that happened, and immediately was broken in the next game, when Opelka made a clever cross court pass after Mmoh had moved in to finish the point.

After each held serve, Opelka served for the match at 5-4, and the many fans who had surrounded the court, with standing room only even with the extra temporary seating added for the final, couldn't have asked for a more exciting finish. Opelka, who was nearly perfect with his volleys throughout the match, opened with a backhand volley winner, but Mmoh countered with a backhand pass for 15-15. Opelka showed great hands in winning the next point, a cat-and-mouse exchange at the net that ended with a volley winner by Opelka.

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Page updated on Monday, March 15, 2021
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