March 30, 2017

Miomir Kecmanovic Wins Historic Second-Consecutive Orange Bowl Boys’ 18s Singles Title

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Miomir Kecmanovic poses with the Orange Bowl trophy (Rob Foldy / USTA)

Plantation, Fla. – If 17-year old Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic makes history on the pro tour like he has on the junior circuit, it will be hard to avoid comparing him to his 12-time Grand Slam champion countryman.

Kecmanovic won the Metropolia Orange Bowl Boys’ 18s singles title for the second consecutive year on Sunday, beating China’s Yibing Wu, 6-3, 6-1, on green clay at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla.

Kecmanovic, who will finish the year as the world’s No. 1-ranked junior, is the third player in the Orange Bowl’s 70-year history to win consecutive Boys’ 18s singles titles, joining Billy Martin (1973-74) and Harold Solomon (1969-70).

Kecmanovic also joins Dominic Thiem (2011) and Andy Roddick (1999) as the only players to win the Boys’ 18s singles titles at both the Eddie Herr in Bradenton, Fla., and Orange Bowl in the same year, dating back to 1993 (the tournaments are played in consecutive weeks).

Each of those are achievements Novak Djokovic, never mind most other tennis players, never accomplished as a junior. Even so, Kecmanovic – who stays in touch and occasionally practices with Djokovic – knows he has plenty of work ahead of him as he transitions to a full-time pro career.

“It’s a great accomplishment. I’m very happy about it. I really didn’t put too much pressure into it, because I knew I would finish No. 1 no matter what I did here. I just went and I just played for myself and enjoyed every match,” said Kecmanovic, who moved to Bradenton in 2013 to train at the IMG Academy, where he is now coached by Marko Jovanovic.

“Obviously, this is very good to do here now, but it’s a lot more important to do after (in the pros),” he said. “I think next year the transition is going to be key for me, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Kaja Juvan reacts after match point in the Girls’ 18s singles final (Rob Foldy / USTA)

 

Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan certainly looked impressive enough to turn pro on Sunday. The 16-year old Juvan, seeded ninth this week, used a deft and diverse arsenal of groundstrokes and drop shots to stifle top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Russian Anastasia Potapova in a 6-1, 6-4 victory to win the Girls’ 18s title.

Consider this a victory that began in May for Juvan. That’s when she beat Potapova in their first meeting, at the Trofeo Bonfiglio junior event in Milan, before Potapova went on to win the Wimbledon girls’ singles title.

“More than anything else, I think I learned that it’s actually possible for me to beat some of the best players, because before that I didn’t kind of trust myself that I would be able to play with the best. That tournament gave me such a confidence boost, and that I can play with the best players, that I can beat them, I just shouldn’t be afraid of them,” Juvan said.

“I just told myself (today) that I have to just be focused on my game and play as diverse as I

can, because I know that that doesn’t suit her,” she said. “That’s what helped me. Also the wind a little bit. I took great advantage of it.”

Potapova agreed with that analysis, but took the loss in stride. The 15-year old Russian will still be the year-end No. 1-ranked junior in the world, and now plans to put junior tennis behind her.

“She likes to play against me, because it’s so comfortable to her. I chose the wrong style of tennis today. Next time, maybe,” Potapova said. “In the final, she did really well and she played her best tennis. All I can say is congrats to her and good job.”

Potapova did leave Plantation with a title, as she and Serbian Olga Danilovic beat Juvan and Croatian Lea Boskovic, 6-2, 3-6 [10-8], after a five-hour rain delay.

In an all-Japanese Boys 18s doubles final, fourth-seeded Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu downed unseeded Shinji Hazawa and Naoki Tajima, 6-2, 6-1.

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Defending Champion Sofia Kenin Headlines Orange Bowl

Kenin

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., November 30, 2015 – Defending champion and US Open girls’ finalist Sofia Kenin (17, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) headlines a talented Girls’ 18s field at next week’s Metropolia Orange Bowl that includes 2015 Grand Slam junior champions Dalma Galfi (US Open; Hungary), Sofya Zhuk (Wimbledon; Russia) and Tereza Mihalikova (Australian Open, Slovakia), along with a surplus of top American prospects. The 69th Metropolia Orange Bowl, featuring hundreds of premier 18-and-unders from around the world, will be played December 7-13 at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla.

 

Regarded as the longest-running international junior tennis tournament in the world, the Orange Bowl features singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in 18-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. It will be played on clay – the surface on which it was played from 1947 to 1998 – for the fifth straight year. Boys’ and Girls’ 18s qualifying begins on Sat., Dec. 5.

 

A Girls’ 18s field teeming with talent could very well yield rematches of several 2015 junior Grand Slam singles finals – Galfi and Kenin are both entered, as are Mihalikova and Australian Open finalist Katie Swan, of Great Britain. Top American juniors such as 2014 Orange Bowl Girls’ 18s finalist Ingrid Neel (17, Rochester, Minn.), Top-10 world-ranked junior Usue Arconada (17, College Park, Md.), 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Michaela Gordon (16, Los Altos Hills, Calif.), 2014 US Open semifinalist Caroline Dolehide (17, Hinsdale, Ill.), 2014 USTA Girls’ 16s National Champion Kayla Day (16, Santa Barbara, Calif.), and Claire Liu (15, Thousand Oaks, Calif.), the youngest player in the Top 600 of the WTA rankings, are also expected to compete.

 

The Boys’ 18s field features talented international prospects, such as 2015 US Open doubles champion Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, 2014 Orange Bowl Boys’ 18s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece and Casper Ruud, of Norway. Top college-bound American boys, such as TCU recruit Alex Rybakov (18, Coral Springs, Fla.) and Georgia recruit Nathan Ponwith (17, Scottsdale, Ariz.), join the next wave of U.S. prospects in this year’s field, led by 2014 Boys’ 16s champion Sam Riffice (16, Roseville, Calif.).

 

Metropolia returns for the third year as title sponsor of the Orange Bowl. A multinational organization with sectors in finance, infrastructure projects, information technology and sports business, Metropolia has its United States headquarters in Miami and formed a partnership to help operate the full-service Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Fla.

The Orange Bowl returned to clay in 2011 for the first time since 1998, when it moved from the clay courts at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach to the hard courts of its previous location at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne. Many players compete in the Eddie Herr junior championships in Bradenton, Fla., the week prior to competing in the Orange Bowl.

 

Founded by Eddie Herr in 1947, the Orange Bowl quickly became one of the premier international junior events in the world and an annual showcase for the global scope of the game.  Players from more than 50 countries have competed in the tournament, and champions have emerged from 28 different nations.  A number of Orange Bowl champions have used the occasion to announce plans to turn professional.

 

Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under singles titles include: Chris Evert (1969, 1970), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995). Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000, 2001), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005) all won the event on hard courts.

 

For more information on the 2015 Orange Bowl, visit www.orangebowltennis.org.

 

Related article:

A First Round Loss at US Open for Sofia Kenin Provides the “Best Experience”

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