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Tournament Summary
American Juniors Shine at Metropolia Orange Bowl

Stefan Kozlov, Sonya Kenin and Sam Riffice made the 2014 Metropolia Orange Bowl in Plantation, Florida a tournament to remember for US juniors, with Kozlov and Kenin claiming their first Grade A titles and Riffice joining exclusive company in adding the 16s championship to his Eddie Herr title.

Orange Bowl ITF Champion Stefan Kozlov
© ZooTennis.com
For the 16-year-old Kozlov, who defeated unseeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final, an Orange Bowl title was a long time coming. After losing in the Junior Orange Bowl 12s final in 2009, the 14s finals in 2011 and the International Tennis Federation Grade A final last year, Kozlov, who also lost in the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior championship finals this year, could end his junior career holding the winner's trophy.

"Losing in the final three times, losing in two slam finals this year, I'm just really relieved, to be honest," said the second-seeded Kozlov who lives in nearby Pembroke Pines, Florida. "I'm relieved I finally won this, and hopefully I don't have to come back here next year."

Kozlov, who trains with the USTA and at his father Andrei's Tennis Academy, had no difficulty in the early rounds on the Veltri Tennis Center's Har-Tru courts, but faced stiff challenges from unseeded Americans William Blumberg in the quarterfinals and Eddie Herr champion Reilly Opelka in the semifinals.

He looked to be heading for yet another Orange Bowl disappointment in the final when Tsitsipas, broken to start the match, won four straight games, breaking Kozlov twice and closing out the set with another break.

Tsitsipas, who had impressed fans all week with his powerful forehand and one-handed backhand, was happy to accept the errors Kozlov was giving him, while taking control of points and keeping Kozlov on the defensive.

"He has really legit weapons," Kozlov said of the 16-year-old, who was playing in just his third ITF Grade A event. "I wasn't expecting that. He didn't give me rhythm, he was serving good and his forehand is amazing."

But after a shirt change and bathroom break, Kozlov began to take control of points in the second set. He broke Tsitsipas to start the set, and began to employ his drop shot effectively, as Tsitsipas was positioned several feet behind the baseline.

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Page updated on Monday, November 02, 2020
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