Hey Tennis Friends!
Last weekend, one of my local tennis venues had its 25th annual USTA sanctioned Open event. What follows is my comprehensive press coverage, as well as my video report, from the second weekend of the event known as the La Habra Open Tennis Championships.
SUMMER WEATHER IN THE FALL
BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN TOP PLAYERS
By Marcus Tennis
LA HABRA, CA., (Nov. 24, 2012) – With temps in the mid 80s, who would have guessed that this would be a late November tournament? Now in its 25th year, the La Habra Open Tennis Championships once again drew some of the top college players into the Open division, and many of the leading Southern California players into the NTRP ranked division. “We just keep improving each year,” observed tournament director Dave Nowick, “This year we went up about forty entries, and added the age groups. That was a big deal!”
The men’s Open quarterfinals began at noon on the main showcase courts.
Number one seeded Dennis Novikov, out of Boca Raton, Florida, went up against local favorite Derek Siddiqui, of Cypress, in a repeat of last year’s semifinal match-up. Novikov, a sophomore at UCLA, struggled a bit in the first set, as he was trying to adjust to matchplay, after being out for weeks with an injury. “I was injured for a month. I sprained my ankle pretty severely”, explained Novikov, “I’m just trying to get in more matches now.” Siddiqui was able to take the first set, with a confident, 6-3.
In the second set, Novikov kicked it up on the San Diego State senior, as he dominated that round, 6-0.
The third set wasn’t looking much different for Siddiqui, as Novikov busted out with a 4-0 lead. Siddiqui was able to get back in the match, and win a few games. By then, it was much too late as Novikov took the match with a third set score of 6-4. “I’m returning back to form right now. I started playing better, feeling my shots better.” commented Novikov, “Every match, for me, is just better and better.”
Southern California native, and Las Vegas resident, Brian Battistone brought his unique volleyball-style serve to his quarterfinal match against a Spaniard from San Diego State, Javier Pulgar. The unseeded Battistone, who won an Open tournament here in the Southland just last month, struggled to get his game together in the first set, losing it, 6-3.For the second set, the number three seeded Pulgar, turned the power all the way up, and took out the veteran Battistone with a drastically uneven 6-0. “He’s not a very common player to play in these kind of tournaments, but, it went my way today” reflected Pulgar. When asked about returning the volleyball serve, he added, “The return is one of the best parts of my game. I returned my best today, and I think that was the biggest part of the match today.”
The two other men’s Open quarterfinal rounds featured Fullerton resident Tim Kpulun’s ousting of Irvine’s J. Nicholas, 6-4, 6-2, while sixteen year old Ernesto Escobedo, from West Covina, battled in a tough three set win over recent Rancho Bernardo High School graduate Tyler Pham, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
In women’s Open semifinal action, a repeat match-up of last year’s championship round was played out, with the returning champion, Jelena Durisic, defending against returning runner-up, Rio Kitagawa. Durisic, a Serbian who graduated from University of North Carolina last year, was on her game in the first set, blasting through with a 6-2 win.
The second set was a near turn-around. Kitagawa, who trains at the Weil Academy in Ojai, stayed solid as the number two seeded Durisic’s game started to fall apart. Down 5-1, Durisic began making inroads against the number five seed. Winning the next four games, despite facing a handful of set points, wasn’t easy for Durisic, and it wasn’t enough, either. Kitagawa was able to regain her momentum after the 5-5 tie, and take the set, 7-5.
Durisic seemed frustrated, in the third set, by Kitagawa’s consistency. That, and maybe her own loose play and unforced errors. Kitagawa fought hard to avenge last year’s defeat, by taking the third, and deciding set, 6-1. “I was trying to play aggressive the first set, but, I was missing like crazy.” said Kitagawa, “The second set, I was trying to play more steady, you know, tough. I just keep calm, and play my tennis.”
The other women’s Open semifinal featured sixteen year old Jasmin Jebawy, from Glendale, Arizona, taking on the number one seed, Elizabeth Ferris of Anaheim.Ferris, not only had ten years on Jebawy, but the University of Utah graduate had a more powerful game, and skills to go with her experience. Dismissing the young German, 6-2, 6-1, Ferris had no bones about the age gap, “I’m in my prime! I play a lot of players that are ten years younger than me, eight years younger than me, I’m doing great!”
Playing a local tournament is a welcome change from traveling on the Pro Circuit, “It’s great! I don’t get to play many tournaments where it’s close to home and I get to sleep in my own bed.”
At press time, there were still many matches that had not even started, as some of the doubles, and mixed doubles, featuring top Orange County players, were scheduled for evening start times.
Here is my video report featuring highlights and interviews from Saturday’s event:
In my interview with Rio Kitagawa, she referenced the duration of last year’s match-up. We both guessed that it was two sets. It was, in fact, three sets, with a final result of:
Jelena Durisic d. Rio Kitagawa 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
Also, the mixed doubles match that I featured was a quarterfinal, not a semifinal, as I had mentioned in the voice over. On the graphics, I typoed an extra “o” to Micheline Aubuchon’s last name, as well.
The results for the matches that I featured in the video report are:
MEN’S OPEN SINGLES QUARTERFINAL
Javier Pulgar d. Brian Battistone 6-3, 6-0
WOMEN’S OPEN SINGLES SEMIFINAL
Rio Kitagawa d. Jelena Durisic 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
MIXED OPEN DOUBLES QUARTERFINAL
Jonathan Sanchez / Bettina Radke
d. Marcos Santos / Micheline Aubuchon 6-0, 6-1
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I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!
– Marcus Tennis