Hofmanova and Luncanu Make History at the Orange Bowl
©Colette Lewis 2006--
Key Biscayne, FL--
Austria's Nikola Hofmanova and Petru Alexandru Luncanu of Romania claimed upset victories at the Orange Bowl Sunday morning, getting historic victories for their countries in the prestigious Grade A ITF event.
The Czech-born Hofmanova, seeded ninth, defeated No. 2 seed Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus 7-5, 6-3 in a topsy-turvy match at the Crandon Park courts on Key Biscayne, to become the first Austrian girl to win a title in the tournament's sixty years.
Hofmanova ran out to a 5-2 lead in the first set, but Milevskaya countered, winning the next three games. Serving at 5-6, however, the 16-year-old from Minsk played a loose game, and unforced errors cost her the set.
"I wasn't confident today at all, I don't know why," said Milevskaya, who lost to Hofmanova in the first round of Wimbledon this year. "After the first set, I was getting mad at myself, and didn't play well."
Hofmanova gave Milevskaya an opening, losing her serve at love in the first game, after Milevskaya had returned from a trip to the restroom, and twice more down a break, at 2-1 and 3-2, But as Milevskaya observed after the match, being down a break isn't unusual.
"Girls tennis is not about serves, it's about how you're playing," she said. "If you serve good it helps you a lot, but not too many girls can do it."
"In the beginning (of the second set), I only looked at how she's playing," said the 15-year-old, who has been playing tennis for 11 years. "But then I started to play my game again."
Asked to describe her game, Hofmanova, whose family moved to Austria when she was two, was quick to respond. "I'm playing aggressive, taking the balls early, and try to make the point, not waiting for the opponent to make the mistake. Normally I try to play more from the net, but that didn't work so much today."
Hofmanova managed to win the Orange Bowl without playing her best tennis in the final, and she spoke with amazement at how far she had come in a year's time, when she was seeded second in the 16s and lost in the quarterfinals.
"Last year I was looking at the 18s girls that were playing, 'thinking oh my god, they are so good', so it's a great feeling."
When asked how she would celebrate, she spoke of waiting until she returns to Austria on Sunday to celebrate with her family, but after thinking a moment, another idea came to her.
"I'm going to the Dolphin Mall shopping this afternoon," she said. "If I see something and I like it, I'm going to get it, no matter what."