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April 2009 - Eirini Georgatou
By Nick Fishpool
In the Southwest of Turkey, 19-year old Eirini Georgatou
competed in two ITF $10,000 tournaments and is our featured player for April.
These two tournaments took place at the same outdoor hard-court venue, the Shine Tennis Club in Antalya-Belek and, with the last tournament of March, formed part of a trio of successive tournaments here.
Set on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Georgatou, who was unseeded, began with a match against Alexandra Kolesnichenko, a lucky loser from Uzbekistan. This proved to be a tough opening round but Georgatou came through this test in two close sets, 64 76(5). In the following two rounds, she found things a bit more comfortable, recording winning scores of 63 61 and 61 61 to reach the semi final stage, just as she had done here the previous week. A qualifier, in the shape of Russia’s Marta Sirotkina, provided her opposition in the semi final but the Russian was powerless to prevent Georgatou from winning 64 60 to make it through to the final. The final, in which she played the Ukraine’s Katerina Avdiyenko, unfortunately came to an early conclusion, with the score 3-2 in the opening set in Georgatou’s favour, Avdiyenko was forced to retire from the match. With the retirement of her opponent, Georgatou claimed a second ITF Pro Circuit singles title of her career. In the doubles event she partnered Israel’s Keren Shlomo to a semi final finish, which included an impressive 75 61 quarterfinal triumph over the top seeds.
With the Shine Tennis Club again playing host, Georgatou, unseeded, found herself up against a lucky loser in the opening round once more. She soon raced into a one set lead, losing just two games, but her opponent from the Czech Republic, Zuzana Linhova, came back into the match by taking the next set 64. Any fears Georgatou may have had at making a shock first round exit following her recent title success at this venue were soon dispelled as she dominated the final set to wrap up a 62 46 60 win. She followed up this victory with a straight sets 63 60 win over a Polish qualifier before taking on the seventh seed, Magli De Lattre from Portugal in the quarterfinal. Having lost just three games in her last three sets played, Georgatou was high on confidence and continued on her winning streak, recording a 64 61 win to move into a third consecutive semi final at this venue in as many weeks. In this semi final, Denmark’s Hanne Skak Jensen, seeded sixth, looked to be on course to bring this run of victories to an end. Having lost the first set 63, Georgatou fought hard to stay in the tournament and narrowly edged a close second set 75 to keep her hopes alive of reaching another final. Spurred on by having levelled the match, she then seemed to step up a gear or two and conceded just one game in the deciding set. Having now made it into the final, the first time in her career on the ITF Pro Circuit that she has contested back-to-back singles finals, she found herself up against seeded opposition for the third match running. Her opponent was the eighth seeded Ukrainian player Tetyana Arefyeva. Although the lowest of the three seeds she had faced, Arefyeva had the distinction of having knocked out the top seed in straight sets, 64 62, at the semi final stage. At the end of the opening set of the final, it was Georgatou who had gained the advantage by taking the set 63 to move within one set of securing the title. Chasing a first singles title since February 2008, Arefyeva pressed Georgatou hard in the second set and it eventually required a tiebreak, which was won 7-5 by Arefyeva, to separate the two players. With the match now tied at one set a piece, neither player let up in the deciding set with the continued high standard of play keeping the watching spectators guessing as to who was going to come out on top. Eventually, there had to be a winner and with a 75 triumph in the final set, the winner’s trophy was, just like the previous week, in the hands of Georgatou.
Although this was her last match of the month on the ITF Pro Circuit, the tennis was far from over for Georgatou. Upon leaving Turkey, her home for the past few weeks, she headed west to Malta, an island in the Mediterranean Sea nestled between the coasts of Italy, Tunisia and Libya. Here she was representing Greece in the Euro/Africa Zone Group III of the Fed Cup. From the four round robin ties contested, Georgatou played the doubles rubber in each of Greece’s last three ties, winning all three doubles rubbers without losing a set as Greece finished top of their group to earn promotion to Euro/Africa Zone Group II for 2010.
Along with the two titles she had won and also playing her part in securing promotion in the Fed Cup for Greece, Georgatou found she had further reason to be celebrating with the release of the WTA Rankings on May 4th 2009 as she had achieved career high rankings in both singles (518) and doubles (650). Both rankings show a huge climb up the rankings ladder from her 2008-year end rankings of 618 in singles and 775 in doubles. In terms of singles titles, she has now won the last three finals in which she has competed and if she continues in this sort of form, then further titles will soon follow for this rising star from Greece.
I can't wait!!! Just a few more weeks until she is back in action--this time in qualies of the 25K in Uzbekistan in two weeks
Actually, Irini is 2 spots out of the MD, so by then she will most likely not need to play qualies