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2016 Chicago Platform Tennis Charities Women's Preview
October 31, 2016
What a difference a year makes! As play began at Chicago Charities a year ago, Gabriela Niculescu and Martina Ondrejkova were the up-and-coming challengers, a team ready to break through but yet to win a major tournament. Break through they did, winning last year’s Charities and going on to win the 2016 APTA National Championships. At this season’s first Grand Prix tournament, Niculescu and Ondrejkova solidified their newfound perch at the top of the women’s game, winning the tournament by defeating Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay, the same team they beat to win Nationals.
There are plenty of teams hoping to prevent Niculescu/Ondrejkova from repeating as the champions in Chicago. The always formidable Dardis and Shay followed up their finals showing at Patterson by winning the NRT at Indian Trail. Last year’s Charities finalists, Jane McNitt and Wendy Shpiz, will be looking to get back to this years finals and are always a tough out in Chicago.
At last week’s Lake Forest Open, Laura Berendt and Alison Morgan stormed through the draw, taking out the #2 seeds and two-time National finalist Chelsea Nusslock, and Hall of Famer Mary Doten in the semifinals and the top seeds Sandy Cvetkovic and Marina Ohlmuller in the finals. All three of those teams live in Chicago and should go deep in the draw at their home tournament. Other Midwestern teams favored to go far at Charities are last year’s semifinalists Heather Prop/Ania Kazakevich, Hallie Bodman/Liz Hayward, and Suzanne Lemery/Kelly Rohrbach.
Joining Niculescu/Ondrejkova and Dardis/Shay are several other dangerous teams from the New York/Connecticut region. Liz Cruz/Roxy Enica gave Niculescu/Ondrejkova all they could handle in the semifinals at Patterson, losing 7-5 in the third set. Kerri Flynn/Myrthe Molenveld and Liz Jaffe/Sue Tarzian are both experienced teams who are always capable of scoring an upset. Finally, two rapidly improving players, Florentina Hanisch, who recently reached her first NRT final at The Lake Invitational with Debora Castany, and Annica van Starrenburg, are a new pairing that no one will want to face early in the draw.
Will Niculescu/Ondrejkova repeat as champions? Will Dardis/Shay reassert themselves as the team to beat? Will another team emerge? Whatever happens, great matches and storylines will play out at Chicago Charities the first weekend in November. Catch all the action on Live Streaming, beginning with the pregame show on Friday at 11:00 am and continuing throughout the weekend.