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Short Hills Invitational Women’s NRT/Viking PCQ Preview
February 7, 2017
Short Hills, NJ
The final Grand Prix tournament of the 2016-2017 season is upon us. The country’s top players head to Short Hills, New Jersey, this weekend to answer some questions: Can anyone defeat Gabriela Niculescu and Martina Ondrejkova? Who will win the Childress Cup? With all the great teams playing, will there be many surprises, or will the seedings hold?
The top seeds, Niculescu and Ondrejkova, have had a stranglehold on the Grand Prix circuit this season. They have entered three Grand Prix events and come away with three titles, choosing only not to play The Midwesterns. In Boston nearly two weeks ago, Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay seemed to have a winning game plan against Niculescu and Ondrejkova in the finals, but after winning the first set and going up 2-0 in the second, Dardis and Shay were unable to close out the match, losing 6-1 in the third. With the win, Niculescu and Ondrejkova kept their perfect 2016-2017 record intact and reinforced their standing as the heavy favorites to win Short Hills.
By reaching the finals of the Boston Open, The Midwesterns, and the Patterson Open, Dardis/Shay have solidified their position at number two and as the team most likely to reach the finals at Short Hills. They will face stiff competition from the third seeds, Liz Cruz and Roxy Enica, who beat Dardis and Shay to win The Midwesterns and in the semis of Chicago Charities. Ania Kazakevich and Heather Prop, the fourth seeds, are coming off a tough three-set loss in the quarters of Boston to Kerri Flynn and Myrthe Molenveld, and a loss in the semis this past weekend to Laura Berendt and Alison Morgan in the semifinals of the Hinsdale Challenge. Look for them to regroup and have a good run in Short Hills.
The teams seeded five through eight are all threats to the higher seeds. Not only did Flynn/Molenveld reach the semis in Boston, they beat several top teams to come in fifth at Chicago Charities, and followed that up with a win at the Connecticut Classic. Kerri Delmonico and Jessica Guyaux lost to Niculescu/Ondrejkova in the Boston quarters, but rebounded to win two matches in the quarterfinal reprieve against quality opponents. This is the first Grand Prix of the season for seventh seeded Karin Kochis and Jaclyn Williamson, but this smart, veteran team with lots of firepower could cause problems for anyone in the draw. Seeded eighth, Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg lost early in Boston to the very dangerous Jade Curtis and Viki Stoklosova, but anyone who saw them hold match points against Dardis/Shay in Chicago or who watched Hanisch demolish the competition at the Long Island Invitational with Kerri Delmonico, knows its only a matter of time before this team has a breakthrough.
Because of the depth in the women’s draw, many highly ranked teams are unseeded. In addition to Curtis and Stoklosova, Debora Castany/Liz Jaffe, Agata Cioroch/Lisa Teer, Sandy Cvetkovic/Marina Ohlmuller, Bobo Delaney/Alison Morgan, Cooey Lyon/Charlotte Sikora, Mirian Cruz/Marina Ruiz de Gauna, Maria Manley/Pam Ruoff, and Lisa Rudloff/Mariya Slupska are all teams that could give seeded teams fits in the early rounds.
If you aren’t in Short Hills this weekend, watch the Live Stream on the APTA Network and on Facebook Live all day Saturday and Sunday. Tune in and see if Niculescu and Ondrejkova can continue their undefeated streak, if any of the unseeded teams can break through, and who will emerge with the highest number of Grand Prix points for the season and be crowned the Childress Cup champions.