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Chicago Charities Women's Preview
October 31, 2017
With most of the players in the top 30 of the APTA rankings competing at Charities, the depth of the draw makes this a particularly compelling tournament. Last year’s champions, Martina Ondrejkova and Gabriela Niculescu are among the favorites this year, but with different partners. Will Niculescu and partner Liz Cruz, undefeated this season, continue their dominance in Chicago, or if not, who will break their streak?
The first NRT of the season, the Patterson Open, and the first Grand Prix, the PNC Steel City Open, both had the same finalists. Cruz/Niculescu took both titles by beating Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay, but the match in Pittsburgh was extremely close and looked like anyone’s match until the last point. Look for both of these teams to be vying for the Charities crown on Sunday.
Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg first gave notice that they were a team to watch at Charities last year. Playing together for the first time, Hanisch/van Starrenburg almost pulled a major upset over Dardis/Shay in the round of 16, holding match points before losing in a third-set tiebreaker. The rest is history, as Hanisch/van Starrenburg went on to emerge as one of the top teams in the nation and to win the 2017 APTA Nationals. Although they haven’t reached quite that level yet this season, look for Hanisch/van Starrenburg to find their form and make it to the late rounds in Chicago.
Several Chicago teams could make a big impression at their home tournament. Hallie Bodman and Liz Hayward recently won the Lake Forest Women’s Open, winning tough three set matches over Alison Morgan and Wendy Shpiz in the semifinals and Jane McNitt and Chelsea Nusslock in the finals. Morgan is partnering with Laura Berendt again at Charities this year, after taking the champions Ondrejkova and Niculescu to three sets in last year’s round of 16. All of these teams, plus Suzanne Lemery/Kelly Rohrbach and Sandy Cvetkovic/Marina Ohlmuller, have a great opportunity to bring the Charities title back to a Chicago team.
Mirian Cruz and Marcela Rodezno reached the semifinals at Patterson and the quarterfinals at Pittsburgh, losing to Dardis/Shay both times. Liz Jaffe and Myrthe Molenveld paired up for the first time in Pittsburgh and had a great showing, losing to Cruz/Niculescu in the quarters but coming back to take out Bodman/Hayward and Cruz/Rodezno to win the quarterfinal reprieve. Both of these teams, plus Atlanta’s Agata Cioroch and Lisa Teer who always play well in Chicago, can go deep in the draw.