Tennis

Rain doesn’t dampen day for winners at Orange Bowl International tennis tournament

Canadian Bianca Andreescu defeated American Kayla Day 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in the Girls 18s final.
Canadian Bianca Andreescu defeated American Kayla Day 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in the Girls 18s final. cjuste@miamiherald.com

The Orange Bowl International tennis tournament ended Sunday the way it began, with rain wreaking havoc on the schedule.

Soggy players and diehard fans waited out a three-hour afternoon rain delay and another interruption later in the day at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation.

The only championship match that got in before the rainclouds came was the Boys 16s final, which ninth-seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina won 6-2, 6-1 over third seed Karl Friberg of Sweden. The atmosphere for their match resembled the Jr. Davis Cup, as a spirited crowd and nearly a dozen Argentine players and coaches in Argentina’s sky blue-and-white-striped shirts cheered on Baez.

After match point, 14-year-old Baez, flashing a tinsel-toothed smile, was swarmed by his fellow Argentine players.

He would celebrate again later after winning the 16s doubles title with partner Miguel Pereira of Chile. They beat Nicaise Muamba of Canada and Brian Shi of the United States 6-2, 6-3.

On the adjacent Stadium Court, American Kayla Day and Bianca Andreescu of Canada were slugging it out in the Girls 18s final. The opponents were quite familiar with each other, as they played two weeks ago in the final of the Yucatan Cup in Mexico. Day won that match, and Andreescu avenged the loss with a 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 victory that began at 10 a.m. but didn’t finish until after 4 p.m.

It was the second Orange Bowl title for Andreescu, who won the 16s championship in 2014.

“It feels amazing,’’ Andreescu said in her postmatch interview. “I’m only 15, and this is like the next step to winning a Grand Slam. Today was really crazy. It was like on and off, everything, but after I got off the court, I was just like, ‘I gotta stay focused.’ I put on my music, I visualized, and I came on court, and then I did my thing.

“I tried to really not focus on the wind and everything and the rain, just focus on my game and just play my best.’’

Day said her serve let her down in the second set, and Andreescu played better on the biggest points. She also said the weather was tough to deal with, as she had never played a match with multiple stoppages.

“I think she definitely felt a little more confident [Sunday], even though I won last time,” Day said. “I think she probably just played a little bit better [Sunday], and I played a little bit worse in crucial moments.”

The Boys 18s final also ended with redemption. Ninth seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who lost to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals of the Eddie Herr tournament last week, outlasted Tsitsipas 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5).

It was the second year in a row that the Greek player fell short at the Orange Bowl. He also lost the 2014 final in three sets.

In the Girls 16s final, Argentina’s Maria Lourdes Carle overcame the long rain delay to beat Gabriela Tatarus of Romania 6-2, 7-6 (9-7). The Girls 16s doubles title was won by Americans McCartney Kessler and Emma Kurtz, who survived a super tiebreak to get past Ania Hertel of Poland and Mihaela Marculescu of Romania 6-3, 6-4 (10-6).

The Boys 18s doubles was won by the Japanese pair of Yuta Shimizu/Yunosuke Tanaka, which beat Ergi Kirkin (Turkey)/Alexei Popyrin (Austria), 7-5, 7-6 (7-2). Pranjala Yadlapalli (India) and Tamara Zidansek (Slovakia) won the Girls 18s doubles 6-2, 6-2 over Eleni Christofi (Greece)/Anastasia Detiuc (Moldova).

▪ International junior tennis competition continues in South Florida on Monday with the Jr. Orange Bowlf or the 12-unders and 14-unders. The tournament runs through Dec. 22 and matches are played at the Crandon Park Tennis Center (Boys 14s), University of Miami (Girls 14s), Salvadore Park (Boys 12s), and Tropical Park (Girls 12s).

Among the players entered in the 12s are Emma Gretzky, daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and Nicholas Godsick, son of former tennis star and now ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez and Tony Godsick, agent to Roger Federer.

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