In the tenth $100,000 event of the year, it was the surging unseeded Russian teenager, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who rounded off a stellar week at the Neva Cup 2016 with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 victory over third-seeded Croat Donna Vekic, having not dropped a single set en route to the championships. Elsewhere, Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella powered her way to the Albuquerque title, whilst American Adam El Mihdawy played the role of villain, coming from a set down to deny home favourite Brayden Schnur of another title on home soil.
Vikhlyantseva Vanquishes Vekic in St. Petersburg; Magnificent Minella Moves Past Cepede Royg in Albuquerque
In one of her best displays of the week, Russian teenager Natalia Vikhlyantseva played her best tennis when it mattered most in a shutout 6-1, 6-2 victory over third seed Donna Vekic of Croatia, who was having a stellar week herself, to claim the $100,000 title in St. Petersburg—her biggest title to date. After trading holds to open proceedings, it was all Vikhlyantseva for the next ten games; the 19-year-old Russian finding the perfect balance between offence and defence, while Vekic struggled to find the court herself. Despite a minor blip while trying to serve out the match the first time around, the unseeded Russian made no such mistake at the second bite of the cherry, eventually sealing the victory in just 64 minutes on her third championship point.
Elsewhere, top-seeded Luxembourger Mandy Minella battled past third-seeded Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg 6-4, 7-5 to take home the 2016 Coleman Vision Tennis Championships title, a $75,000 event held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After struggling to win back-to-back matches this season until this past May, the Luxembourgish number one has rebounded nicely, going 17-7 since winning her biggest title to date at the Bol Open, a WTA $125,000 event held on the Southern Croatian island. With another close victory and title under her belt, Minella is sure to make a late push for a year-end top 100 ranking, having missed the cut the last three years.
In other finals, this past weekend, China’s Gao Xinyu and Australia’s Lizette Cabrera both survived three-set epics on home soil, while seventh-seeded Dutchwoman Quirine Lemoine and eighth-seeded Ukrainian Maryna Zanevska both powered to victory. In the case of Gao, the Chinese rallied from 3-5 down in the decider to stun top seed Shiho Akita 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in the $25,000 Hua Hin final, whereas Cabrera was forced to overcome the disappointment of failing to seal the victory in straight sets to outlast compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-2 in the decider, in the $25,000 Tweed Heads final. In contrast, Lemoine and Zanveska decided against taking the scenic route to claim the biggest titles of their careers, respectively.
El Mihdawy Plays Villain, Denies Schnur Third Title On Home Soil
On the men’s side, top seed Adam El Mihdawy played the role of villain Sunday afternoon in the $25,000 Bruno Agostinelli Futures final, denying seventh seed and home favourite Brayden Schnur his third title on home soil in a heart wrenching 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory. With only a single break separating the two in the first two sets, the decider was no different as the American pounced in the seventh game, and never really looked back from there. Serving his way to victory, the new world number 358 wasted no time in clinching his 12th ITF Pro Circuit singles title just games later, and astounding fourth of 2016.
In other championship news this week, third-seeded Aussie Marc Polmans recovered from squandering a set and 5-3 lead to edge out American Jarmere Jenkins 7-6(4) in the third, while Alvaro Lopez San Martin dominated an all-Spanish battle after a closely-contested opening set and French veteran Romain Jouan needed just 46 minutes to capture his first professional title since 2013.