Dramatic Conclusion to NJT International Masters
Port Saint Lucie, Florida - October 22, 2008 - When a journalist once commented about a lucky shot hit by golf legend Gary Player, the South African replied, “It’s a funny thing, but the more I practice, the luckier I get.” Spaniard and Team Prince junior, Carlos Bautista proved that point on Saturday when he captured the boys under-14 title at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters played at Club Med Sandpiper. Bautista is the first NJT International Masters champion since Prince became official racquet, string and ball of the global program earlier this year.
Everyone who knows Bautista say he was just an ordinary kid who would turn up at tournaments and lose in the early rounds a few months ago. However, the youngster from Manzanares, a town some 200 kilometers outside of Madrid with a population of nearly 20,000, has, over the past three months, been working very hard on his tennis, playing more tournaments and improving. With his win, Bautista, who now wields the Prince Ozone Tour, joins an impressive list of fellow Spaniards who have taken home the NJT International Masters title, including world’s No. 1 Rafael Nadal and top European junior, and fellow Team Prince player, Carlos Boluda - both of whom won the event three times.
“It is pretty cool to have my name up there with Rafa and Boluda and to keep the tradition of Spanish NJT champions (going),” said Bautista. “Obviously I have a long way to go before reaching their level, but right now I can say that I have won the same tournament they did and I will keep working hard to get better.”
Unseeded coming into the International Masters, Bautista sliced through the field dropping only one set before going on to beat top seed Kevin Kaczynski of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in a one hour and twenty-six minute final. The last time he played Kaczynski he relinquished a 5-0 lead in the first set and a 4-0 lead in the second to lose. “I knew this time it would be different. I was more confident,” said Bautista.
Kaczynski was pretty relaxed prior to the match, even taking time to have a swing on a trapeze set up for the kids prior before the start of the final. But the match, which was played at a frenetic pace from the start, told a different tale. Bautista struck first with a break in the fifth game. The top seed came straight back however to level the score at 3-3. Bautista went ahead once again in the seventh game and then saved a break point in the following to go up 5-3.
Serving at 5-3 in the first set, Bautista showed his smarts and employed a shrewd tactic - taking the pace off his first serve and aiming directly into the body of the tall German and forcing the error. Bautista took the set. In the second set, it all came down to the ninth game with Kaczynski serving at 4-4. Kaczynski led 30-15 but the Spaniard fought back and managed to earn a crucial break point. Kaczynski came up with a big serve; got the short return he wanted but then slammed an overhead into the net. He had set up the point so well only to fail in the final execution. Up 5-4, Bautista closed it out when Kaczynski pushed a ball long.
“This year marked our first as the official racquet, tennis ball and string of the Nike Junior Tour - which has become a significant event in junior tennis - and the International Masters event capped an incredible inaugural year,” said Linda Glassel, Vice President of Marketing at Prince Sports, Inc. “To have three players in four of the division finals, including the Boy’s Under 14 champion was special and a sign that our future is bright. Like the NJT, Prince is focused on cultivating young players into tomorrow’s superstars and we will continue to put a tremendous emphasis on growing the game among this most crucial group.”
For more information please visit www.princetennis.com or www.nikejuniortour.com.
For images from the Nike Junior Tour International Masters, visit, www.jpg.co.za.
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