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Martina Ondrejkova and Gabi Niculescu Take Boston Title
January 28, 2017
With all of the top teams competing besides seventh ranked Hallie Bodman and Liz Hayward, the Boston Open draw glittered with great matchups and upset possibilities. There were some competitive early round matches and several seeds exited early, but at the end of the day Friday, form held and the top two seeds prepared for the Saturday morning final.
The top seeds, Gabriela Niculescu and Martina Ondrejkova, came in as heavy favorites, having won the Patterson Open Grand Prix and the Chicago Charities Grand Prix. Although they were undefeated as a team this year, they hadn’t competed together since Chicago in early November, and it wasn’t clear if they were in top form. After only dropping one game while dismissing the always tenacious sixth seeds, Kerri Delmonico and Jessica Guyaux, in the quarters, any doubt about their lack of match play was erased. They continued their dominance in the semis, beating the hottest team on the APTA circuit, third seeds Liz Cruz and Roxy Enica, who were coming off of a big win at The Midwesterns Grand Prix.
On the top half of the draw, the second seeds Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay also reached the finals without dropping a set. After beating the unseeded Suzanne Lemery and Kelly Rohrbach in the quarters, they easily dismissed the fifth seeds Kerri Flynn and Myrthe Molenveld in the semis. Flynn/Molenveld won a marathon quarterfinal match, beating the fourth seeds Ania Kazakevich and Heather Prop in a see-saw battle that they finally closed out, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4.
As befitting a showdown between the top two seeds, the finals produced some high quality paddle. Dardis/Shay lost to Niculescu/Ondrejkova in two straightforward sets at the Patterson Open, but one of their greatest strengths is their ability to learn from their losses and formulate new strategies. That proved true in Boston, as Dardis/Shay came out with a strong, well-executed game plan, and were rewarded with the first set. After winning two close games to start the second set, Dardis/Shay looked like they were on their way to the title. As the second set wore on, however, Ondrejkova cut down on her errors, and Niculescu gained momentum, often taking over points with her heavy forehand drive and her blitzes. Once Niculescu/Ondrejkova closed out the second set at 7-5, they had firm control of the momentum, riding it and their high-level play to a 6-1 third set and the victory.
The two unseeded teams who reached the quarters may have been ranked too low for a seeding but were hardly unheralded. Lemery/Rohrbach have played sparsely this year, but are always a threat in any draw. They took out the eighth seeds and first-time team Liz Jaffe and Alison Morgan in the round of 16 before falling to Dardis/Shay. On the bottom half of the draw, Jade Curtis and Viki Stoklosova came through a loaded quarter, beating the seventh seeds, Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg, before losing two close sets to Cruz/Enica. A two-time national champion, Stoklosova is always a dangerous opponent, and she and her new partner Curtis are rapidly improving as a team.
As the players head to Short Hills in two weeks for the season’s final Grand Prix event, the rankings at the top of the game will remain the same, as will the Childress Cup standings, which reward the best performers in the Grand Prix Series. The top three spots are incredibly close, with Cruz/Enica holding onto the top spot with 82 points, followed by Dardis/Shay with 81 points, and Niculescu/Ondrejkova with 75 points. After Short Hills Grand Prix, the Childress Cup winner could be decided by three points or less.
Paddle players everywhere watched the Live Stream from Boston on the APTA Network and on Facebook Live. On Facebook Live alone, 34,900 people viewed the coverage, and 169 people liked the APTA Facebook page. That’s 169 more people who will be getting paddle updates right in their Facebook newsfeed. Thank you to Gerri Viant, Mark Fischl, Patty Hogan, Brad Easterbrook and the ENET crew for making the Boston Open must see TV!
Thank you to tournament director Drew Sawyer, Weston Golf Club‘s Genius Chidzikwe, and the Boston Open tournament committee for providing a great player and fan experience, and to Boston Private and all of the other generous tournament sponsors.
Main Draw: Gabriela Niculescu/Martina Ondrejkova def. Cynthia Dardis/Amy Shay, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
Quarterfinal Reprieve: Kerri Delmonico/Jessica Guyaux def. Suzanne Lemery/Kelly Rohrbach, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
Reprieve: Florentina Hanisch/Annica van Starrenburg def. Mirian Cruz/Marina Ruiz de Gauna, 6-2, 6-1
Consolation: Denise Murphy/Lynne Schneebeck def. Kelly Brown-Cobbs/Susan Tarzian
Consolation Reprieve: Cooey Lyon/Charlotte Sikora def. Sarah Driscoll/Lindsey Herchel, 6-1, 6-2