The Last Word: Dec. 15, 2013

Francis Tiafoe wins Orange Bowl

It’s going to be a great story if this kid actually makes it.

The 15-year-old from Maryland, whose father is head of maintenance at the academy where he trains (Correction: he WAS head of maintenance), becomes the youngest ever to win the big Orange Bowl junior tournament in Florida.

Tiafoe defeated another 15-year-old (but one far more highly-hyped), Stefan Kozlov, 7-6(3), 0-6, 6-3.

Tiafoe is not at a main USTA Academy (this is a regional facility). His coach isn’t one of those hotshot coaches. His parents weren’t even there to hang out on his practice court, generally be tennis parents or even see him win (his coach came down at the last minute when he made the final).

Varvara FlinkIt’s refreshing, isn’t it?

Colette Lewis has all the good stuff in her report, right here.

She describes Kozlov as “deliberate under any conditions” (that’s usually code for sloooooow, multiple towel requests, intense examination of tennis balls to select the one that has 1/1000 less fluff, bathroom breaks and all the usual junior moves).

Kozlov, who had never lost to Tiafoe, blamed inadequate physical conditioning for the loss and said that wouldn’t happen again. You have to hope somewhere in there he was gracious about his opponent’s effort.

On the women’s side, top seed Varvara Flink of Russia defeated No. 2 seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 seed.

The girls’ 18s doubles final was another interesting one – even of the 6-0, 6-1 score indicates a non-competitive match.

The winners were two young ones who have been getting a lot of hype and press – 15-year-olds Naiktha Bains of Australia and (Tornado) Alicia Black of the U.S.

The two were playing together for the first time. The funny/scary part of this, as Lewis describes it, is that Bains’s people called Black’s people (both have agents) and that’s how it came about.

That’s a lot of 15-year-olds; it speaks to how the Orange Bowl – once the premier junior event on the planet – isn’t what it once was even if winning it is still a terrific accomplishment.

Only three of the top 10 boys in the ITF junior rankings were in the draw; the two finalists on the girls’ side were the only top-10 ranked players.

(Tiafoe pic: USTA/Ron Angle)

TC Paris beats Lille to win the French interclubs

Tied 2-2 after the singles, the men’s French Interclub championships (1st division) came down to the doubles.

And after accomplished doubles players Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau made quick work of Lille’s Igor Sijsling and Yannick Mertens, it was left to Marc Gicquel and Marco Chiudinelli to clinch against Ilija Bozoljac and David Goffin.

Not without the unwelcome, hour-long interruption caused by a power failure, of course, as TC Paris served to even the match at one set all.

Gicquel was undefeated in Interclub play during the season, winning 12 points out of 12.

Lille’s captain was Christophe Rochus, the retired Belgian player who was celebrating his 35th birthday.

TC Paris was the team Canadian Vasek Pospisil played for last season.

N’oubliez pas les dames

Meanwhile, the French seemed to pretty have forgotten the women’s first-division interclub final, which started an hour before the men (in the same venue) but seemingly far away from the livestreaming cameras.

But the Denain team led by Alizé Cornet and Kirsten Flipkens got the job done. Here’s some news on that.


Suspended Troicki out on the courts

Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, currently under ITF suspension for failing to take a scheduled blood test in timely fashion, clearly has the support of his compatriots.

A few weeks ago, he accompanied Novak Djokovic on his quick exhibition tour of South America – no doubt a trip that would help get his mind off his troubles for a bit.

Sunday, doubles star Nenad Zimonjic Tweeted this pic of his practice partner.


 Poots does cheesecake

Currently in Mauritius in pre-season training with the Mouratoglou academy, never-boring Russian-turned-Kazakh Yelena Putintseva decided to put a little bikini cheesecake out on the interwebs.


(Tennis tan line alert)

Putintseva made some promising noises at the beginning of 2013. But a back injury cost her part of the season (she didn’t play from Wimbledon until the second week of October) and, at No. 109, she’s on the bubble for direct entry into the Australian Open.




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2 thoughts on “The Last Word: Dec. 15, 2013

  1. Just a small little detail: Tiafoe’s father *was* janitor at JTCC. He is currently unemployed.

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