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Florida's O'Loughlin, Kozlov Runners-up at Jr. Orange Bowl Tennis

December 22, 2009 06:00 PM
 

 Stefan Kozlov

Unseeded Julia O'Loughlin of Boca Raton came within a set of stealing the Jr. Orange Bowl 12s title on Tuesday in Coral Gables, Fla., falling 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-1 to top-seeded Francoise Abanda of Canada.

It was a powerful display of tennis from the two 5-foot-10 pre-teens, who ripped balls from all corners while showing little emotion, until the emotion, elation and tears, finally flowed from both players following match point.

Abanda is the second Canadian junior to win an Orange Bowl title this month after Gabriella Dabrowski won the 18s title. The Canadian said one of the most difficult parts was countering the power of O'Loughlin.

"She's hitting really heavy, and her backhand is really good," Abanda told zootennis.com. "She had good serves, and it was hard for me to control the ball, because she was hitting so hard."

The final was decided after Abanda saved a break point at 1-1 in the third set, then rolling off five straight games.

"I tried to keep fighting, but I was so far down," O'Loughlin said. "I was angry with myself. But this was a great experience for me, and I'll learn from it."

Another Floridian came up short in the Boys 12s final in a battle of two top seeds when Seongchan Hong of Korea topped Pembroke Pines resident Stefan Kozlov 6-4, 6-2.

It was a rematch of this year's Eddie Herr final where Kozlov ground out a two-tiebreak win over Hong.

"I'm going to hit winners only, or I'm going to try to," Kozlov told zootennis.com prior to the final. "I'm not going to get into his game, which is pushing -- well, not pushing, but lobbing. The Eddie Herr was all of that."

Kozlov's strategy of impatience did not serve him nearly as well, coming up just short of the famed Eddie Herr-Jr. Orange Bowl title double in the same year.

In the all-American Girls 14 final, unseeded Californian Yuki Chiang completed her dream run with a 6-3, 6-3 win over  Indianapolis' top-seeded Brooke Austin 6-3, 6-3. It was the first all-American Girls 14 final since 1988 when Nicole Hummel defeated Sandra Cacic for the title.

In the Boys 14 final, No. 8-seeded Thien Nguyen of Vietnam defeated No. 9-seeded MacKenzie McDonald of California 7-6(2), 6-0.

 

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