Latest article of 50K Pittsburgh final:
PNC International Tennis Classic turns into grand slam event
By Jim Rudolph
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
A near sellout crowd watched 20-year-old Maria Elena Camerin of Italy defeat 15-year-old teen phenom, Maria Sharapova of Russia, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, to capture the championship of the PNC International Tennis Classic at the Oxford Athletic Club North in Wexford.
Sunday’s match was the culmination of a weeklong tournament that featured matches worthy of the US Open. USTA Professional Circuits supervisor Billie Lipp said, “Pittsburgh had, by far, the best draw of the year’s Challenger Circuit.”
The $50,000 PNC International Tennis Classic gave “Pittsburgh’s Grand Slam” tennis fans a glimpse of tomorrow’s top 10 women professionals. In addition to Sharapova, Ashley Harkleroad and Allison Bradshaw, both of the United States, gave spectators a crystal-ball look into the future of tennis.
Sharapova won three matches in the qualifier to earn her place in the main draw. She upset Amy Frazier of the United States, the No. 1 seed and ranked No. 39 in the world, and Mashona Washington, the No. 8 seed of the United States, to reach the semifinals. Not having to qualify, Harkleroad had an easier path to the semifinals but still had to beat No. 3 seed Marissa Irvin of the United States. The result was a “grand slam” quality encounter between Sharapova and Harkleroad in the semifinal match.
The PNC International Tennis Classic featured evening semifinal match turned into a breathtaking two-and-a-half hour, three-set marathon worthy of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The first set began with five consecutive service breaks and settled into a dead even first set ending with Sharapova taking a gut-wrenching tiebreaker from Harkleroad, 7-3. As the second set began, Sharapova was treated for thigh cramps, and she went on to lose, 6-4, to Harkleroad. After being behind 4-1 in the third set, Sharapova battled back to win, 6-4, with a screaming cross-court forehand at match point.
About being behind 4-1, Love 30 in the third set, Sharapova said, “I’m mentally tough, and I was thinking I didn’t want to lose, 6-1. I was having fun hitting the ball and running. Ashley’s great shots brought out the best in me.”
Despite losing in the singles draw, Frazier prevailed in doubles. Frazier and her partner, American Jennifer Embry, defeated Nana Miyagi, Japan, and Milagros Sequera, Venezuela, 6-4, 6-2.
The PNC International Tennis Classic was well-attended throughout the week and is expected to return for its fourth year in 2003.
WOW! Typical Maria SCREAMING!
What a mental tough player Maria is ....... from being down 1-4 and had her thigh cramps in the 2nd set against Ashley Harkleroad. She won at the end amazingly! Sound like typical Graf!!
Maria definitely has lovely personality: “I’m mentally tough, and I was thinking I didn’t want to lose, 6-1. I was having fun hitting the ball and running. Ashley’s great shots brought out the best in me.”.