2021 APTA National Women’s Championships Preview

April 7, 2021
Summit, NJ

Although it is happening a month late due to the pandemic-plagued season, the APTA Women’s National Championships is fielding a loaded draw this weekend in New Jersey, with 32 teams that include 18 of the top 20 players in the country. There are eleven teams in the draw that have had strong seasons and can go far in the tournament, but three teams stand out as the favorites to take home the biggest title in paddle: Florentina Hanisch/Ana Marija Zubori, Kerri Delmonico/Lauren Gebbia, and Liz Cruz/Gabriela Niculescu.

New partners at the start of the season, Hanisch/Zubori looked unbeatable as they tore through the draw at the first Grand Prix in Darien. As the season wore on and the other players adjusted to their game, they met more resistance, taking only one more title at the Western New Englands, reaching the finals of the February Thaw Out Classic and falling in two semifinals. Hanisch, whose baby is due in July, would love to add another National Championship to her resume (she won in 2017 with Annica Cooper), and Zubori has the game and the talent to become a National Champion with her.

Delmonico/Gebbia have had incredibly good results this season, winning the Long Island Invitational and reaching the finals of the other three NRTs they played, all tournaments brimming with top players. This duo has been a good team for many years, but they have hit their stride this season, giving themselves a great opportunity to add a National Championship to their stable of titles together (Delmonico won Nationals in 2005 with Aila Main).

After each giving birth for the second time last year, Cruz/Niculescu started this season relatively slowly, going out in the quarters of both Darien and the Long Island Invitational. They found their games quickly, however, and as befits two champions who own multiple National titles, they came on strong this winter, dominating a tough draw at the February Thaw Out Classic and beating the top team in the country, Hanisch/Zubori, in the finals. They followed that up with another victory at March to Nationals, where they again bested Hanisch/Zubori, this time in the semis, and defeated Delmonico/Gebbia in the finals.

After the top three, there are a slew of other teams that have had strong seasons and could go far in the draw. Annica Cooper and Myrthe Molenveld have had an up-and-down season, but they found fine form at The Midwesterns where in the semifinals they avenged an early season loss to Jessica Guyaux and Jaclyn Williamson and then extinguished the title hopes of local favorites Spencer Caravaggio and Heather Prop in the finals.

Caravaggio and Sandy Cvetkovic have posted great results all season long, winning two NRTs (Lake Forest Open and Chicago Charities) and reaching the finals of two others (Hinsdale Challenge and Winter Warrior Classic).

Macie Elliott and Marcela Rodezno are the defending National Champions. They have played sparingly together this season, reaching the quarters of Darien and the semis of Long Island. If they can recapture their stunning play from last March, they will be in the hunt again this weekend.

Roxy Enica and Martina Ondrejkova are three-time NRT semifinalists this season but have not been able to find the top form they have exhibited in the past. Ondrejkova is a National Champion (2016 with Niculescu) and Enica a National Finalist (2019 with Laura Berendt) and they have the experience and expertise to repeat those fine performances together.

Guyaux/Williamson are another team that has racked up consistently solid results in NRT play this season. In their four NRT outings, they were semifinalists three times and advanced one round further to reach the finals at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

In the three tournaments they played together this season, Alison Morgan/Charlotte Sikora had their best showing at The Midwesterns where they were semifinalists, but this team has had good success against highly-ranked teams and will be a tough out for anyone in the Nationals draw.

The veteran Amy Shay teamed up this season with the talented lefty Jolene Sutter, and although they haven’t advanced past the quarterfinals of an NRT yet, they won two quarterfinal reprieves and are a dangerous team that no one wants to see in their portion of the draw.

Every season, the veterans Maria Manley and Pam Ruoff seem to pull off at least one big upset, and this season was no exception. In the semis of Western New Englands, Manley/ Ruoff out-battled the second seeded team of Cooper/Molenveld in a tight three-setter. There is no reason they can’t beat another higher-ranked team at Nationals.

With almost all the top players in the country scheduled to play, the competition at Nationals will be fierce from the onset of play. The Live Streaming crew is streaming multiple matches at once, starting at 9:30 AM on Saturday and 11:30 AM on Sunday. Tune in to the APTA YouTube Channel and see the top players battle it out for the 2021 National Championship.

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L to R: Rodezno and Elliot

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