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Junior State Closed Championship: Race to the Top

06/15/07 — Junior State Closed Championship: Race to the Top
The last day of the 59th annual 2007 USTA Florida Jr. State Closed brought sunny skies, precision hitting and another exciting chapter in the books. With all the No. 1 seeds missing in the main draw on Thursday, June 14 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, the “Race to the Top” truly was anyone’s game.

The day started at 9:00 a.m. with a match-up between the youngest player in the Girls’ 14s, Victoria Duval (2) and little powerhouse Sachia Vickery (12). The two girls, who have played each other many times before, delivered a close match for the admiring crowd. Vickery edged out Duval 7-6, 3-6, 6-1 and won her first title as state champion.

“I worked really hard to prepare for this tournament,” said Sachia, who admits it was hard to construct points against Victoria because she returned every ball like “a wall”. “I felt little pressure which allowed me to be more aggressive. This was definitely my hardest match.”

The 2 hour Boys’ 14s final brought No. 2 seed Jeremy Efferding against last year’s consolation winner, Boris Bogomolov (6). Efferding’s few unforced errors and accurate play left Bogomolov impatient and unable to capitalize on his strategy. Efferding took the match 6-2, 7-5 to win his first state championship title.

“It’s a lot easier playing with no pressure than playing with pressure,” said Efferding, who had nothing to lose going into the match. “This is a great accomplishment and I am overjoyed. I thank God because he gave me such a great victory and I couldn’t have done it without Him.”

Up next for both Bogomolov and Efferding is the USTA National Boys’ 14 Clay Court Championships July 15-22 at the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale.

Two-handed forehand and backhand player, Billy Federhofer (4) faced smooth hitting Spencer Wolf (5) in the Boys’ 16s finals at 11:00 a.m. Wolf, who trains at Saviano High Performance Tennis Academy with Clint Bowles and Carling Seguso, faced Federhofer last year in the finals of the back draw. The outcome last year mimicked this year as Wolf won 7-6, 6-4.

“This feels awesome,” said Wolf, who didn’t even look at the draw coming into the tournament. “I took it match by match, focused on my game and tried to execute point by point.”

The Clayton legacy continues as No. 8 seed Mary Clayton defeated No. 3 seed Brittany Borsanyi 6-2, 6-2 in the Girls’ 16s championship. Clayton, whose family’s ties to tennis run deep, took control of the match early on and played consistent.

“It feels good, but unexpected,” said Clayton, who hasn’t played at the State Closed Championships since the 12s. “I like this tournament because everyone is at the same location and I get to see a lot of friends here.”

The Boys’ and Girls’ 18s main draw championship brought two of last year’s winners back on court at 1:00 p.m. Monica Chow (2006 Girls’ 16s champion) and Ryan Kim (2006 Boys’ 18s champion) targeted repeat titles this time. One got it, the other didn’t.

High school All-American and Princeton bound Ryan Kim (2) faced 2005 USTA Spring National Champion and FSU bound Clint Bowles (12) in the finals. A final farewell to both boys, the fast paced and action packed match ended in Bowles favor 7-5, 6-3.

“Being state champ means a lot to me,” said Bowles. “It will be with me forever and it will always be in the books.”

Kim’s entire family, especially his grandfather, come to the tournament ever year to watch him play. “My goal was to get to the finals, and I am happy with the way I played,” said Kim. “I have improved a lot over the year.”

Also improving a lot over the year are Girls’ 18s finalists Monica Chow (3) and Carling Seguso (11). The momentum changing three setter was the last match of the tournament. Chow took the first set 6-3 and then lost her momentum in the second after she slipped on the clay and called the trainer. Seguso prevailed in the second set 6-4. Fighting hard for every point, Chow answered right back and claimed the third set 6-4. At only 16, Chow is the only repeat winner in the main draw at the 2007 USTA Florida Jr. State Closed.

All 16s and 18s finalists have received a $1,250 travel reimbursement to be used at the next National Clay-Courts or National Hard-Courts Championship this summer.

The Sanlando Tennis Center in Altamonte Springs hosted the Boys’ and Girls’ 10s and 12s divisions. Congratulations to Anastasia Nefedova (1) in the Girls’ 10s for becoming the Girls’ 10s Jr. State Closed Champion. Nefedova, who finished fourth last year in the tournament, defeated No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin 6-2, 6-2 in the finals.

The Boys’ 10s championship produced an exciting match up between twin brothers Scott Plutt (4) and Michael Plutt (3). Plutt and Plutt, who usually play doubles together, ended their fairytale partnership when they faced each other on the court for State Champion bragging rights. Although a mentally tough match, as each brother knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, Michael edged out Scott 6-2, 6-3 in the finals.

Finally, congratulations to Justin Butsch (5) who defeated Jose Gracia (8) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in a strong three set match for the Boys’ 12s championship title and to Sarah Pravder (3) who defeated Alizee R. Michaud (4) 6-3, 6-0 in the Girls’ 12s championship.

Third Place Results: Boys 18s Brennan Boyajian (1) d. Luke V. Mojica (7) 7-6, 7-5. Girls 18s Lindsay Dvorak (7) d. Alina Jerjomina Wo (inj). Boys 16s Mark Schanerman (8) d. Andrew Butz (7) 6-4, 6-3. Girls 16s Jaime Yapp-Shing (4) d. Bianca Sanon (1) 6-2, 6-1. Boys 14s Michael Rinaldi (3) d. Roy Lederman (16) 6-4, 6-2. Girls 14s Rebecca Bodine (4) d. Julia Jones (1) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Boys 12s Stefan Kozlov (11) d. Ognjen Samardzic (6) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3. Girls 12s Julia O’Loughlin (2) d. Marie Babayan (7) 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(3). Boys 10s Adam Ambrozy (2) d. Chase Colton (1) Wo (ill). Girls 10s Kahalauamalunonala Companion (3) d. Ashley Bongart (4) 6-1, 6-3.

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