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Nashville's Brian Baker Wins Prestigious Burger King Orange Bowl Championship

December 16, 2002 10:19 AM

Burger King Orange Bowl International Championships
Tennis Center at Crandon Park
Key Biscayne, Fla.
December 8-15, 2002

Boys’ 18s Singles Final
Brian Baker (3), Nashville, Tenn., def. Mathieu Montcourt (4), France, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Vera Douchevina (1), Russia, def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (2), Germany, 6-0, 6-1.

Brian Baker
Brian Baker of Nashville and Russia’s Vera Douchevina captured the boys’ and girls’ 18-and-under singles titles, respectively, at the Burger King Orange Bowl International Championships held at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

Baker, No. 11 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, defeated No. 12 Mathieu Montcourt of France, 7-6 (5), 6-3, to become the first American to win the boys’ 18s title here since Andy Roddick in 1999. Top-seeded Douchevina, the reigning Wimbledon girls’ champion outclassed No. 2 Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, 6-0, 6-1, in 43 minutes.

Both champions received wild card entries into the 2003 NASQAQ-100 Open qualifying tournament.

The Orange Bowl was the final tournament of the year for all four finalists, who returned to their part of the world to spend the holidays with family before resuming training. Baker and Montcourt will head to the Australian junior events in January as two of the top five returning players in the boys rankings. Douchevina and Groenefeld plan on skipping the first major to play in ITF Futures, but will return to the junior circuit for the other majors.

“My strategy was to be patient. Hit it deep. Keep him back there and finally wait for the ball that I could attack and then attack and come in,” said Baker, who won his third international junior title this year and fifth overall. “He has a different style of game that I don’t see too often, so he gave me a lot of trouble at the beginning, but I sort of figured it out by the second set.”

After exchanging breaks of serve in the first two games of the match, both players held serve for the remainder of the set forcing a tiebreak.

Montcourt attacked the net early in the first set tiebreak and won three straight points to take a 4-2 lead. Baker responded by pressuring Montcourt from the backhand side to win five of the next six points and closed out the set with a service winner.

“I was very close to winning the set,” said Montcourt, who fell to 0-4 in ITF finals. “If I had won the tiebreak, I would have had a good chance to win because he played two very tough matches (in the quarterfinals and semifinals). I haven’t won an ITF tournament and I have played in three or four finals. I get this in my head and at the beginning I was very stressed.”

Baker adds his name to a list of Orange Bowl boys’ 18s champions that includes Roddick, Roger Federer (1998), Jim Courier (1987), Guy Forget (1982), Ivan Lendl (1977) and John McEnroe (1976). He has made his decision about turning professional right away or attending college before heading for the tour.

“It feels good right now but I still have to prove myself,” said Baker. “It’s good. I hadn’t necessarily done as well as I thought I could have at the slams this year. I was hurt at a couple of them and didn’t play well at the other two. It is very exciting for me to do well here. I’m very happy.”

This year, Baker lost in the first round of the French Open and Wimbledon and reached the third round at the Australian and US Open boys’ events. He reached the boys’ doubles final at Wimbledon and the US Open with different partners.

Douchevina gave Russia its fourth Orange Bowl girls’ 18s title in the last five years and accomplished the feat in front of her good friend Vera Zvonerova who successfully defended the title last year to become the first player to win consecutive 18s titles here since 1975. Zvonerova is still young enough to compete on the junior circuit, but played mostly professional events this year and finished her rookie season on the WTA Tour ranked No. 45 in the world.

“I played good tennis coming into the match,” said Groenefeld, who only lost 16 games in her five matches en route to the final. “Today, she played unbelievable. It was tough for me. At the beginning, I hit

Douchevina dominated the match from the onset and pinned Groenefeld behind the baseline with deep penetrating groundstrokes from both sides.

“At the beginning, I hit deep with her and I tried to make some more high balls at the end, but it was difficult,” said Groenefeld, runner-up also at last week’s USTA International Winter Championships here. “All in all I am very satisfied. It was my goal to reach Top 5 on juniors in the end.”

The title brought a smile to the usual stoic pony-tailed sixteen-year-old who planned on an afternoon of shopping before heading home to Moscow on Monday.

Complete List of Finals

Boys’ 18s
Singles Final
Brian Baker (3), Nashville, Tenn., def. Mathieu Montcourt (4), France, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Doubles Final
Scott Oudesma, Kalamazoo, Mich. and Phillips Simmonds (3), Reston, Va., def. Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau (1), Romania, 6-4, 6-4.

Girls’ 18s
Singles Final
Vera Douchevina (1), Russia, def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (2), Germany, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles Final
Daria Kustava and Anastasia Yakimova, Belarus, def. Jarmila Gajdosova and Andrea Hlavackova (1), Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-3.

Boys’ 16s
Singles Final
Jose Luis Muguruza (2), Aruba, def. Gael Monfils (1), France, 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles Final
Gregory Ouellette, Ornond Beach, Fla., and Eric Riley (8), Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., def. Timothy Neilly, Bradenton, Fla., and Marc Spicijaric, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 6-4, 6-2.

Girls’ 16s
Singles Final

Charlene Vanneste (1), France, def. SE-Sophie Melikishili, Georgia, 6-3, 5-7, 6-0.

Doubles Final
Ekaterina Kosminskaia and Ekaterina Makasova, Russia, def. Vania King, Long Beach, Calif., and Katy Pooler (3), Laguna Niguel, Calif., 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

 

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