Americans Montgomery, Krueger, Ngounoue Take Home Titles at 2019 Orange Bowl
PLANTATION, Fla. – Robin Montgomery accomplished her dream of winning the Orange Bowl. The 15-year-old from Washington, D.C., won the Orange Bowl girls’ 18s singles title on Sunday, defeating Belarus’ Jana Kolodynska, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Montgomery’s victory came in dramatic fashion. Feeling some nerves to start the match, she found herself down 2-5 in the first set, but channeling her coach’s advice to move her feet seemed to pay off, and she rallied back to win the first set in a tiebreak.
Montgomery’s confidence grew after each point in the second set, and it proved to be too much for Kolodynska, with the American closing out the match in straight sets.
“It was a tough match. I knew after securing the first set, I had to keep my momentum going because I knew she could come back,” said the champion. “I just had to stay on the gas pedal and push even harder.”
Reflecting on her Orange Bowl title, Montgomery discussed what the victory means to her and the bigger plans she has in mind for the future.
“It’s another stepping stone for me,” she said.” I’m very happy, but once I go back home, it’s back to training. My next step is to execute in the pros. I do believe I can make it. It’s just a matter of time.”
The victory caps a year in which Montgomery won the Junior Fed Cup title at the USTA National Campus and went 31-9 in ITF junior singles play.
“I can’t complain about this year,” said Montgomery, who was also a finalist at the adidas Easter Bowl in March. “I’m really glad with my results. I have surprised myself with some things I’ve been able to do. I’m ready for next year.”
In 2020, Montgomery plans to play junior Grand Slam tournaments and to compete with the pros on the ITF World Tennis Tour.
In the boys’ 18s draw, Thiago Agustin Tirante of Argentina claimed the singles title, making him the year-end No. 1 in juniors.
“It feels amazing; I don’t know how to explain it,” said Tirante, whose victory Sunday gave him his third straight title to close out the year. “I started the year ranked 120, and now being No. 1, it’s incredible.
“For me, this is the best junior tournament after the Grand Slams. Ever since I was I kid, I always dreamt of winning the Orange Bowl. This is my second Orange Bowl victory; I won the 14s, so to end my junior career with two Orange Bowl titles is amazing. I can’t believe it.”
Krueger Captures Girls’ 16s Title
Ashlyn Krueger took the home the girls’ 16s singles title, defeating Clervie Ngounoue, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, in an all-American final. Krueger battled back after being down three games to take the first set, before falling in the second. In the third set, she easily closed out the match, ending her 2019 season on a strong note.
“I got an adrenaline rush. It was a long first game, and I really wanted it, so I had to keep pressing myself, and that’s what I did,” Krueger said. “At the end, last set of the year, I tried to give it all I had. It was a good match.”
The Orange Bowl title was the 15-year-old’s second in as many weeks, as she also won the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship the week prior to the Orange Bowl.
“It means a lot; I’m very happy,” Krueger said about her back-to-back championships. “I can step up to a challenge because this was a challenge. Not having a great year and coming into these two weeks have been a dream come true to me.”
Reflecting back on her week in Plantation, Krueger said, “I think it was me finding myself and believing in myself that I can do this. Tennis is what I want to do, and I just proved it.”
Despite falling in the singles final, Ngounoue tasted Orange Bowl glory, capturing the girls’ 16s doubles championship with partner Victoria Mboko of Canada.
“We tried to bring our all, especially at the end. I think it was great that we were able to work together mentally and physically,” said Ngounoue, who also won the girls’ 12s title last year. “I’ve learned to play with confidence; I have nothing to lose. I had fun today, and that’s what matters.”
Rincon Sweeps Boys’ 16s Singles and Doubles Titles
In the boys’ 16s singles final, Daniel Rincon of Spain defeated American Gabrielius Guzauskas, 6-0, 6-1, to capture the title.
“I think it was my best match of the tournament. I’m really happy with my performance,” Rincon said. “This is a really great tournament; all the players here are really good. It’s a high level of tennis, so I’m really happy to win.”
Guzauskas, originally from Lithuania before moving to the U.S., had an impressive run to the final, taking down three seeded players along the way, including top-seed Marko Andrejic of Austria in the opening round.
“Overall, it was a good tournament,” the Naples, Fla., resident said. “I never thought I would get this far, even after winning my first match. To be honest, I thought I was going to lose [against Andrejic], but anything can happen. Staying in the match, fighting, going after my shots—overall, I played very good this week.”
Rincon also teamed with Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan to claim the boys’ 16s doubles title.