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Jr. State Closed Crowns Winners

June 15, 2008 06:48 PM

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BG 18s-14s Finalists Video Interview: Part 1 | Part 2


The 2008 USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles Championship, the oldest consistent tournament for junior players in the state, finished on Thursday, June 12 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.  Ending with six championship matches that took over two hours and adding a back-to-back state champion to the books, the six-day tournament brought together the best junior tennis players for fun, important ranking points and a chance to join the tradition of champions.

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The day started with a match-up between Courtney Colton (4) and Alexandra Kiick (8), training colleagues at the Nick Saviano High Performance Tennis Academy in Sunrise.  Both coming off from a big three set victory the day before, Colton and Kiick had to beat the heat and play their best against each other in the finals.  Colton looked confident on the court and it was evident she wanted the match against Kiick. 

“She is a great competitor, a great athlete and it was fun to play her,” Colton said.

After a hard fought contest, Colton took the match 6-4; 6-1. 

“I just really competed my best out there,” said Colton, who won doubles at the Tennis Plaza Cup in January.  “This was one of my best [matches] where I kept in the moment and fought for every point.  I hope to keep doing what I am doing, work on my game and hope it continues to get better in my tournaments.”

Boys’ 14s junior player, Morgan Mays (7) has been on a roll.  “The last month has been really good,” Mays said.  In the 14s division, he won singles and doubles at the Muterspaw Championships in Las Vegas, Nev., won doubles and was a singles finalist at the USTA National Open in Frisco, Tex., won singles at the Peach State Junior Tennis Classic, Norcross, Ga., and most recently, won the 2008 Jr. State Closed Singles Championship.

“I have been working hard for awhile now and it has finally paid off,” he said.  “Today was the hottest day and we were both tired; it was a test of will.”

Mays, who plans to move into the 16s soon, trains at Longboat Key Club.  In the finals, he played “Mighty Mouse,” otherwise known as Kenny Sabacinski (3) and took the match 6-3; 6-1.

“I tried to play the way I played the whole tournament,” he said.  “I wanted to dictate the points and stay on the offensive because Kenny is a great grinder.”

Up next for Mays are the 14s USTA National Clay and Hard Court Championships.

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The girls’ 16s final was a re-match of last year’s 14s playoff between Rebecca Bodine (1) of Tarpon Springs and unseeded Julia Jones of Largo.  Bodine took the match in three sets last year, and this year she won it in two, 6-4; 6-2.

“The win makes me very happy,” Bodine said.  “It’s good since I am coming off an injury and it makes me feel more confident about playing.”

Bodine pulled her T-Band in her upper leg two months ago.  She just started hitting with girls’ 18s finalist, Danielle Collins, at Seminole Lake Tennis Center only a week before the tournament.  Hiding her weakness from Jones, Bodine played aggressive and was in control the entire match.

“I was definitely playing my game and wasn’t switching off of it like I tend to do sometimes,” said Bodine, whose summer is busy with tournaments, including the Florida Bush Open, USTA National Open in Tallahassee and USTA National Clay Courts.  Looking to the future, she hopes to stay healthy, play solid, play her game and get her movement back.

The last three matches of the tournament went to three sets and lasted more than two hours.  In the boys’ 16s final, defending boys’ 14s Jr. State Closed champion, Jeremy Efferding, played Michael Rinaldi (9) of Palm City.  Rinaldi, winner of the 2008 Easter Bowl in Rancho Mirage, Calif., met Efferding last year in the boys’ 14s Jr. State Closed semifinals.  The match, filled with precise hitting, powerful serves and good sportsmanship turned out to be one of the best of the tournament.

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“I felt very nervous in the beginning,” Efferding said.  “I went into the match trying to play like I’ve been the whole tournament - to out-power and move my opponent off the court.” 

Efferding won the first set 6-4 and was up 5-4 in the second, ready to take the match. However; Rinaldi won an important game at deuce and then broke Efferding to go up 6-5.  Serving for the second set, Rinaldi couldn’t hold and Efferding broke back to take it to a tiebreak. The tiebreak was close, but Rinaldi won.

After a ten minute break, players resumed to the court.  “I picked up my level in the third and just played my best,” said Efferding, who is coached by Jay Berger at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton.  “Coach told me he had done the same thing, so it’s nice to follow in his footsteps and win back-to-back.”

 

The final score read 6-4; 6-7; 6-1 in Efferding’s favor, but both guys played an incredible match.  Efferding aged out of the 14s in May and says his goal is to play at Kalamazoo and the USTA National Clay Courts and see what he can do.

“I thank God for this victory and I couldn’t do it without Him,” he said.

In the boys’ 18s final, Brennan Boyajian (1) of Weston took on two-handed forehand and backhand player, Billy Federhofer (9) of North Miami.  Boyajian, who plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill in the fall, took control of the match early with precise shots and minimal errors.  Taking the first set 6-3, he looked to leave his last and final Jr. State Closed tournament as champion. 

In the second, Federhofer capitalized off of Boyajian’s mistakes and frustrations to prevail 6-2.  As players, parents, coaches and scouts anticipated the result of the final match, one thing was for sure – whoever won will have earned the title of state champion. 

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Boyajian earned the title, with a convincing 6-1 win in the third.

“It feels good just knowing that I’ve been playing Florida tennis since I was six years old,” Boyajian said.  “To play in my last junior Florida tournament and finish on top, it’s good.

Federhofer continues to improve his game.  His recent successes include quarterfinal finishes at the USTA National Opens in Naples and Peach State Junior Tennis Classic in Norcross, Ga., and a victory at a national tournament in Delray.
 
“He forces you to make every shot or else you pay for it,” Federhofer said.  “I wish it could have worked out better, but it was fun.”

“It was a good week,” added Boyajian, who will be attending UNC Chapel Hill with Florida players Zach Hunter and Luke Mojica.  “I will miss seeing all the kids because I have seen the same ones growing up for eight years.”

Closing out the last championship match of the tournament was Chichi Scholl (9) of Pompano Beach and Danielle Collins (5) of St. Petersburg.  Both girls are past Jr. State Closed champions, yet this was the first time the two, age 15 and 14, respectively, have played.  Collins won the first set 6-1 in just thirty minutes, as Scholl could not find her rhythm and made uncharacteristic errors. 

Scholl rebounded, got her rhythm back and took the second set, 6-0.  She started making more shots and her aggressive play was too much for Collins to counter.  In the third, Scholl quickly went up 3-0.

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“I tightened up,” she said.

Collins evened the match to 3-3, but Scholl took the reins from there to close out the match 6-3.

“Credit definitely goes to her because she played really good and it was a tough match,” said Scholl, who plays at a public park in Pompano Beach.  “I wanted to play aggressive, take balls out of the air, get my serve going and fight for every point.”

Collins, visibly upset about the loss, is already looking to her next step.  “I am going to keep working on getting better and getting stronger.”

After an erratic match, Scholl reflected on her performance.

“Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself,” she said.  “I know that even if I am down, I can come back if I believe in myself.”

The Sanlando Park in Seminole County hosted the boys’ and girls’ 10s and 12s divisions.  Congratulations to unseeded Katerina Stewart of Miami for becoming the Girls’ 10s Jr. State Closed champion.  Stewart defeated No. 7 seed Star Makarome of Wesley Chapel 6-3; 3-6; 1-0(5) in the finals.

Coming off a three set victory the day before, Charlie Sullivan (1) of Delray Beach may have been too tired to pull out a win in the finals of the boys’ 10s championship.  However; after defeating the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the draw already, Noah Makarome (8) of Wesley Chapel was ready for the challenge.  Makarome pulled off a close two set victory, defeating Sullivan 7-6(5); 6-4 to win his first ever Jr. State Closed championship.

Finally, congratulations to Alexandria Stiteler (1) of Bradenton  who defeated Anastasia Nefedova (9) of Palm Harbor, 6-0; 6-0 for the girls’ 12s championship title and to Elio Livi (3) of Miramar who defeated Paul Tyagi (1) of Miami Shores in a strong three set match, 6-3; 4-6; 6-3, for the boys’ 12s championship.

After a long and hot six-day tournament, filled with great tennis, friends and only one day of rain, players, parents, coaches and tournament staff should be pleased with the end result.  In its 60th year, the USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles Championship continues to deliver true champions of Florida junior tennis.  Thank you to our sponsors, Florida Virtual School, People to People, K12 and the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute, and congratulations to all!

Third Place Results: Boys Christopher Jackman (13) d. Blas G. Moros (3)  6-2; 4-6; 6-3. Girls 18s Jacqueline Kasler (3) d. Chloe Smith (15) 6-1; 6-4.  Boys 16s Spencer Newman (1) d. Zachary Katz (4) 6-2; 6-2.  Girls 16s Laura Gutsche (8) d. Korey Love (10) 6-3; 4-6; 7-6.  Boys 14s Blaine Willenborg (8) d. Roy Lederman (4) Wo (emerg). Girls 14s Kelsey Laurente (2) d. Denise Starr (1) 7-5; 6-4.  Boys 12s David Crisovan (2) d. Dan Stefan (8) 6-4; 6-2.  Girls 12s Julia O'Loughlin (3) d. Sofia Kenin 6-3; 6-0.  Boys 10s Davey Roberts (4) d. Ariel Hollender (2) 6-7(4); 6-0; 10-2.  Girls 10s Shelby Groeneveld (6) d. Katherine Wiley (5) 6-1; 6-3.

**All 16s and 18s finalists will receive a $1,250 travel reimbursement to be used at the next National Clay-Courts or National Hard-Courts Championship, while all 12s and 14s semifinalists will receive $625 for the first time in State Closed history! (Details available online and at event. Receipts must be submitted to cover expenses. NCAA approved.)

 

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