Whatever your tennis fancy, you can find it in the final of the $50,000 Cortec Tennis Challenge in Bloomington, Minnesota. The two player in the final could hardly have more contrasting styles -- or histories.
Stanislava Hrozenska is a youngster, still only 19 years old. With a ranking this week of only #237 in the world, she had to qualify even to make the main draw. But she looks ready to go places. With a wide variety of shots, a willingness to come to net, and good hands, she's playing the biggest event of her life. And doing it in dramatic fashion.
In the semifinal, Hrozenska played against Laura Granville of the United States, another prospect and a crowd favorite. It was a close, tough match, with breaks almost as common as holds. By the third set, Hrozenska was talking to the wall. It looked like Granville was in charge. The American broke to open the third set, then held. Hrozenska was having fitness problems; it looked like it was all over. After holding in the third game of the final set, she called the trainer -- and started raising her game, adding more lobs, more offspeed shots, an excellent dropshot. She broke Granville -- only to have Granville break back, at love, on a series of Hrozenska errors. But Hrozenska made it three breaks straight, then broke the streak with a hold. 4-3 Hrozenska. Hrozenska holds, 5-3. Granville proceeded to break back. 5-4 Hrozenska, but on serve. She kept the pressure on, and Granville couldn't answer. Hrozenska made it one more break when Granville hit a volley into the net. The New Face had the best result of her pro career.
As a result of reaching the final, Hrozenska will move up to about #200. If she can win the final, she can start planning for a trip to Paris, to play Roland Garros qualifying.
Her opponent in the final, Els Callens, is in complete contrast to Hrozenska. A veteran at 31, she's been everywhere, done everything. She's had an excellent career in doubles; she won two titles last year, and played for the winning Belgian Fed Cup team, and she and Chanda Rubin beat the Williams Sisters at the U. S. Open. But her singles career has languished; she came here ranked #135, and that's up quite a bit in recent months.
The fast indoor hardcourt at Bloomington could only help her game. Where Hrozenska's biggest weapon is her touch, Callens relies on power, including a big serve that has made her almost unbreakable in the doubles here. In her semifinal, she played against Seda Noorlander, the #2 seed and the only seeded player left in the draw. Callens had her cannon firing from the very start, getting off to a 3-0 lead in almost no time. It took Noorlander, who hits with two hands on both sides but still can't match Callens's power, some time to get into the match. She broke back in the ninth game, and then held, and had a break point in the next game -- only to see Callens hit two straight aces to get things back in control. The set went to a tiebreak. Noorlander got a minibreak on the first point, and then held for 2-0 -- whereupon Callens once again took charge, getting the minibreak back and cruising to a 7-4 win in the breaker.
In the second, Noorlander, who had played a lot in the past few days, and who runs a lot with her two-handed shots, started to wear down. After four holds to start the set, Callens broke. Noorlander called for the trainer. When the match continued, Callens held, then broke; Noorlander could hardly get up into the air to serve. She retired, giving Callens a 7-6 5-2 win.
Her finalist showing will move Callens to about #122. A win would get her a few more spots -- meaning that she could even dream about direct entry into Roland Garros.
She'll certainly get direct entry into the doubles. And she may manage a singles-and-doubles win at Bloomington; she and Shinobu Asagoe, the #1 seeds, topped qualifiers Pastikova and Deikmeijere 7-5 6-1. They will face the veteran Japanese team of Rika Hiraki and Nana Miyagi, 6-4 6-1 winnners over Valentina Sassi and Bryanne Stewart
Singles Finalist Stanislava Hrozenska
Singles and Doubles Finalist Els Callens
Doubles Finalist Shinobu Asagoe