Sport

Bernard, Catanzarite capture ITF Jamaica Invitational Tourney

BY GERALD REID
Observer writer

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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ALEXANDER Bernard and Ava Catanzarite from the United States of America (USA) captured the Boys' and Girls' 18 and under singles titles, respectively, as the 2019 International Tennis Federation (ITF) Jamaica Invitational Tournament ended at the Eric Bell Tennis Centre, last Saturday.

Bernard defeated top-seeded former Jamaica top junior singles player Blaise Bicknell, who currently represents the USA, in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 in the final that lasted only 57 minutes.

Catanzarite defeated unseeded 13-year-old American Brooklyn Olson in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 to win her second title of the tournament. She had teamed up with Ava Krug to win the girls' doubles final the previous day.

The 15-year-old Bernard said he was surprised by the easy manner of his victory.

“I had expected a much tougher match against Bicknell, as he was the top seed and is a good player, but I don't think it was his best match,” said the left-handed Bernard.

He added that although Bicknell is much taller and has a strong serve, he countered with top spins, crafty plays, his speed across the court, as well as using the wind to his advantage.

Bernard had won the singles the previous Saturday in The Bahamas.

Meanwhile, Bicknell congratulated Bernard for his victory.

“It was one of my worst matches in the tournament as I never played really well. I did not recover enough from my semi-final that lasted for nearly three hours on Friday, and the wind did not help me, but Bernard used the wind very well to win,” Bicknell said.

Meanwhile, Catanzarite, also a winner in The Bahamas the previous Saturday, said she was really happy for the win, her fifth singles win on the junior circuit for girls this year.

The 15-year-old American said, although winning convincingly, it was a very good match, as she had to work for each point.

“I took control of the first set quickly, but had a much harder second set as Olson began to produce some good shots as I had to play my usual game to get the better of her,” Catanzarite said.

Olson, who was playing her opponent for the first time, said Catanzarite is a very good player.

“I need to improve, especially on my serves and spins, in order to get even with these older girls, but I think I played extremely well throughout the tournament and also making it to the final,” said 13-year-old Olson, who is playing on the junior circuit for the first time this year.

Meanwhile, the boys' doubles final was won by the second-seeded American pair of Connor Krug and Jake Krug, who defeated the unseeded American pair of Jakub Ostajewski and Matthew Robinson 7-5, 6-1 in 58 minutes.

Tournament Director David Sanguinetti said this was a very tough tournament for the Jamaicans, as only Michaela Stephens was able to reach the second round.

“We need to go back to the drawing board in order to get on even terms with these overseas players. The players are not close to being near to where we were 15 years ago, where Jamaica had players reaching the semi-finals and final,” he said.

He added: “We need a lot of improvement to compete and make it on the international circuit.”


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