The sweat was still pouring down the face of Laslo Djere of Serbia some 15 minutes after his championship match in the boys’ 18s final of the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships on Sunday.
Nevertheless, there was no hiding a huge smile on that sweaty face.
Djere, 17, had beaten Elias Ymer 6-4, 6-4, to win the Orange Bowl title at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation.
Asked how much the heat and humidity bothered him, Djere said, “I was not really prepared for these conditions.”
“It was a really hot day, and it was so hard to breathe. But it was the same for him.”
Asked what the weather was like right now in his Serbian homeland, Djere responded, “It’s snowing in Serbia. It’s pretty cold there. So, I think I would rather be here.”
He will get to see that snow soon. On Monday night he takes a flight from Miami to London, then another flight from London to Budapest followed by a car ride to his home.
The victory was much-needed redemption for Djere, who is 32nd in the world junior rankings and seeded ninth in the OB International. Just a week ago Djere suffered an unthinkable loss to Christian Garin in the final of the Eddie Herr tournament in Bradenton, losing the match after winning the first set 6-0 and taking a 4-1 lead in the second.
Djere made sure that didn’t happen Sunday, never losing his serve in the two sets. In fact, the two sets had a certain déjà vu to them. Both sets went to 4-4 with Djere then breaking Ymer in the ninth games.
“It would have been a bad feeling to lose two finals so close, so I did my best to win this final,” Djere said.
The girls’ 18s final featured the most talked-about player, male or female, in the OB International, Croatia’s 14-year-old Ana Konjuh. She won the title over the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova, 6-3, 6-2. Konjuh, ranked 16th in the world junior rankings and seeded seventh in the OB, stunned world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend in Saturday’s semifinals.
The outcome of Sunday’s championship match was apparent early as Konjuh, who will turn 15 on Dec. 27, jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first set and wasn’t threatened thereafter.
Konjuh, who should move up substantially in the world junior rankings, showed a masterful assortment of shots — slices, drop shots and deep, down-the-lines power hits. Actually, many of those shots were right on the line and Siniakova, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, could do nothing to repel the onslaught.
“I have a lot of confidence right now,” Konjuh said.
Indeed, she does. Asked about her ultimate goal, she replied, “I want to be world No. 1. — of course, everybody does.”
She did admit, “I’m tired. I need to relax a little bit right now.”
That she will do. She’s headed to Sandpiper Bay, near Port St. Lucie, before heading back to Croatia on Wednesday.
“I will sleep,” she said.
In the boys’ 18s doubles final, American Nicolas Jarry teamed with Chile’s Christian Garin to defeat Lithuania’s Lukas Mugevicius and Russia’s Alexander Vasilenko 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). In the girls’ 18s doubles final, the U.S. team of Townsend and Gabrielle Andrews won the title by defeating Victoria Rodriguez and Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 6-4, 7-5.