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Philly Open NRT/Viking PCQ Women’s Preview
February 15, 2018
As the APTA circuit heads into the final Grand Prix tournament of the season at this weekend’s Philly Open, there are only a few ranking points separating the top three ranked teams. With the fourth team coming on strong with a win at last weekend’s Short Hills Invitational, it is hard to name a decisive favorite to take the Philly title.
The top ranked and seeded team, Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg, have had an up-and-down season as they try to regain the form that earned them the 2017 APTA National Championship. At the Boston Open, they lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual champions, Jade Curtis and Viki Stoklasova, but rebounded to reach the finals last weekend in Short Hills, falling to Martina Ondrejkova and Ana Zubori. Always searching for ways to improve, this team will try to find their peak form going into these final weeks of the season as they did last year.
Second-ranked and seeded, Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay have done a remarkable job of turning the tide against third ranked and seeded Liz Cruz and Gabi Niculescu. After losing to Cruz/Niculescu in their first two meetings this season at The Patterson Open and the PNC Steel City Open, Dardis/Shay came back to win their next two encounters and hand Cruz/Niculescu their only two losses thus far this season. Although they lost in the finals of the Boston Open to Curtis/Stoklasova, Dardis/Shay are in great form and a top contender in Philly.
Cruz/Niculescu have won two Grand Prix tournaments this season and suffered only two losses, but such is the depth at the top of the women’s game that despite their record they are only ranked third. They will have to survive tough possible matches against Kerri Delmonico and Mariya Slupska and Hanisch/von Starrenburg to try to avenge their recent losses against Dardis/Shay in the Philly finals.
Ondrejkova/Zubori , the fourth ranked and seeded team, notched the win last weekend that they’ve been working up to all season. Their final round win over Hanisch/von Starrenburg in Short Hills demonstrated their improvement as a team since they started playing together at the start of this season. To reach the Philly final, they face the tall task of knocking out both Roxy Enica/Myrthe Molenveld and Dardis/Shay, who beat them soundly in Pittsburgh.
In addition to Delmonico/Slupska and Enica/Molenveld, there are several other teams who can challenge the top four in the Philly draw. Mirian Cruz/Marcella Rodezno, Jane McNitt/Chelsea Nusslock, Heather Prop/Wendy Shpiz, and Cooey Lyon/Charlotte Sikora are all capable of upsetting one of the top teams.
Watch the Philly Open Women’s NRT/Viking PCQ beginning at 9AM Friday morning on the APTA Network, YouTube, or Facebook Live, and see who emerges as the final Grand Prix Champion of the 2017-2018 season.