Tennis

Kaja Juvan, Miomir Kecmanovic win Orange Bowl junior tennis titles in windy weather

Kaja Juvan, reacts after winning a Orange Bowl junior tennis title.
Kaja Juvan, reacts after winning a Orange Bowl junior tennis title. Rob Foldy

Kaja Juvan has a good excuse for not doing all of her homework when she heads back to high school this week.

The 16-year-old from Slovenia was busy fighting off the rain, wind and top-ranked Anastasia Potapova to win the Orange Bowl International Girls 18s Tennis Championship in Plantation on Sunday afternoon.

“I have a lot of notebooks with me; but, unfortunately, only one of them got opened,” the ninth-seeded Juvan said, grinning, after knocking off Potapova 6-1, 6-4 at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center. “I’m going [to] forget it for now and Wednesday when I go to school, I will tell my teachers I won this, so I didn’t have time for homework, and hopefully my teachers will understand.”

The giggly Juvan planned to celebrate with her favorite dessert — tiramisu — and also will be dying her hair blonde when she gets home, a bet she made with her coach, Robert Cokan, who also must dye his hair. She said she plans to eat some of the oranges in her Tiffany glass bowl trophy, “but I can’t eat too many because I have braces, and it doesn’t get pretty when I eat oranges.”

She said it was “an honor and challenge” to face Potapova. “When I stepped on the court, I had to focus on me, not on her, because if I focused on her, I’d probably lose.”

On the boys’ side, top-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia breezed past No. 2 seed Yibing Wu of China 6-3, 6-1 to become only the third player in tournament history to win back-to-back titles. The others were Harold Solomon (1969-70) and Billy Martin (1973-74).

Kecmanovic trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton and said his familiarity with humid, windy conditions might have given him an edge on Sunday.

“I didn’t care about the weather because at IMG it’s always like this,” he said.

Serbian star Novak Djokovic is an idol of Kecmanovic’s, they hit together at Grand Slams, and he said being a practice partner with other top Serbian players at the Davis Cup this season had a big impact on him.

“That helped me a lot, to see the atmosphere of the Davis Cup to see how all the best players from Serbia train, act and behave before the matches,” Kecmanovic said. “Once I came back from that I started playing much better.”

Kecmanovic and Juvan plan to cut down on junior events next season and play professional challenger tournaments.

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