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Déjà Vu in the Men’s Finals; Brengle and Gibbs to Face Off in Women’s

News Release – July 26, 2014

Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships

www.lexingtonchallenger.com

 

 Déjà Vu in the Men’s Finals; Brengle and Gibbs to Face Off in Women’s

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was déjà vu all over again at the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships Saturday as Great Britain’s James Ward and Australian James Duckworth both won their semifinal matches in straight sets to face each other Sunday for the second year in a row.

 

On the women’s side, it was cause for an early celebration for American Nicole Gibbs, who in addition to winning her semifinal match against Irina Falconi, 7-5, 6-2, also got news she would receive the USTA Pro Circuit wild card into the US Open main draw after the second-leading contender, Melanie Oudin, was knocked out by the third-leading contender, Madison Brengle, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. (If Gibbs had lost, Brengle still would have been in the race after beating Oudin.)

 

Seventh-seeded Gibbs, as one astute fan noticed Saturday evening, played the first set like she had somewhere to be at 7 o’clock. Clearly the aggressor on most points, the 21-year-old went for her shots over and over, intertwining unforced errors and an inability to convert at least a half dozen break points with spectacular quick-footed plays. Falconi’s unforced errors rivaled Gibbs, but the 24-year-old, who is ranked 167, chose her moments more carefully as the two went neck and neck throughout the match. It wasn’t until Gibbs was able to convert the breakpoint she most needed to make it 6-5 that she gained the momentum required to take the first set 7-5.

 

“I mean she’s a tricky player to get used to out there,” the former Stanford University standout said about Falconi, who is ranked 163. “She plays a very different game style. She has a lot of finesse, uses her drop shot insights really well, but she also hits through the ball so you’re constantly off balance, and it just took a little while to get used to that today, and then I settled in a little bit late in the first set and into the second set.”

 

In the second set Gibbs ratcheted down her play to a more steady level, making fewer errors and also choosing her moments more carefully. Falconi, meanwhile, dialed up her game with more offensive play but was unable to overcome Gibbs’ momentum, with Gibbs pulling out the second set 6-2, along with a trip to the finals Sunday and a trip to New York later this summer.

Nicole Gibbs s3

 (Nicole Gibbs)

Gibbs will face Brengle at 1 p.m. on Sunday after the No. 2 seed defeated Oudin in three sets. Oudin was slow to get going in the first set. The 2008 US Open quarterfinalist had trouble keeping the ball in play as Brengle chased down everything that was in play and broke Oudin four times to take the set 6-2.

 

In the second set, Oudin battled to break Brengle, getting over the hump, so to speak, and to take her serve to 40-0 and pull ahead 2-1. Brengle fought back, chasing down balls like her life depended on it, bringing the score to 2-2. Oudin then won her serve, hitting winners, and went on to break Brengle and go up 4-2. Brengle fought back at game point, but it was not enough to stop Oudin, who served herself to 5-2. Brengle redoubled her efforts to win her serve and got another game, but Oudin served out the set 40-0 to take it, 6-3.

 

With more rhythm in her game, Oudin broke Brengle and held her serve in the first set, as Brengle seemed to falter before winning her serve. A long service game that went to deuce several times, ended up with Oudin losing on a double fault. Brengle, who is ranked 151, then won her serve to make it 3-2. Oudin gathered herself up to make some fantastic plays, including an inside-out backhand winner, to tie it up 3-3. Several unforced errors in the next game gave Brengle the edge and put her ahead. Oudin, fighting to stay in the match, then broke Brengle to make it 4-5, but two double faults did not help her cause and Brengle took the third set, 6-4, to win the match.

 

“She stepped it up the second set and stopped making as many errors,” said Brengle who is from Delaware but trains at the IMG academy in Florida. “She started nailing shots on the baseline that were hard to get back. The third set, I made it a point to get more on my balls to get them deeper so she couldn’t hit those kinds of shots.

 

“I feel like we both had ups and downs,” Brengle said. “She started the third set so well, but then I got on a roll … The two double faults in the last game really helped.”

 

Oudin, ranked 156, said she was very disappointed.

 

“I was controlling the points but missing that last ball and you’re just not going to win matches that way,” she said. “I fought as hard as I could, but she fought hard, too.”

 

“The last time I played her it was lopsided, but I won the first set then 6-0, she won the second set 6-3, then I closed it out 6-2,” said Oudin, who had 63 unforced errors Saturday. “She doesn’t hit a lot of winners, but she just getting ball back and makes you play bad.”

Madison Brengle s2(Madison Brengle)

Repeat of Ward vs. Duckworth in Men’s Finals

 

In addition to déjà vu in the finals, it was also déjà vu in the semis of the men’s singles division, which featured a rematch of the finalists in 2011.

 

This time around, however, the 27-year-old Ward came away the winner with more consistent playing and strong serves that kept American challenger Wayne Odesnik on his heels throughout the match. Ward, the No. 5 seed, took the match 6-3, 6-3.

 

Ward and Odesnik, 28, have faced each other three times since 2011 with Odesnik winning two of those matches, all on hard court. Ward , who is ranked 150, said after Saturday’s match he had a definite strategy to beat Odesnik and stuck diligently to the plan. The elements of his strategy he wouldn’t divulge, however.

 

“I might have to play him again this year, so I’d better keep that to myself,” Ward said. “He’s tough, and you know you’re going to have to play long rallies. He places the ball well because he’s a lefty.”

 

A key factor in Ward’s victory was his big serve, which delivered seven aces on critical points and gave him winning points on 83 percent of his first serves. By contrast, Odesnik had only one ace and got points off 61 percent of his first serves.

 

“I have been serving better every day of this tournament,” Ward said. “You serve well at the right time, that’s a big advantage. Wayne doesn’t have the biggest serve so you know you’re going to be in it every point.”

 

Odesnik wore a brace on his left ankle and had a trainer look at his ankle following the seventh game of the first set but said after the match his ankle was only “one of many aches and pains” and didn’t affect how he played. He said Ward simply played a smarter game.

 

“He got a lot of balls back in the court,” Odesnik said. “I just didn’t have any legs underneath me today, and that’s the basis of my game. It’s like going to war with a knife.”

 

Ward also did a better job of minimizing unforced errors. The match started a bit shaky for him with seven of his 25 total unforced errors occurring in the first two games. He then settled down while Odesnik’s error rate increased.

 

Ward won the men’s singles title at last year’s Lexington Challenger tournament against Duckworth, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The two players faced off a total of three times in 2013 with Ward winning each time.

James Ward s1(James Ward)

Duckworth, 22, said he has other plans for Ward, after winning the battle of the Aussies in the semifinals. Duckworth, the No. 4 seed, defeated 18-year-old wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(2), 6-3 to advance to the finals.

 

With both players serving well (first-serve percentage was 58 percent for Duckworth and 57 percent for Kokkinakis), neither player yielded a break in the first set as it went to a tiebreak, Kokkinakis’ third in as many sets.  Duckworth delivered back-to-back aces on his first two serves and continued to serve well as he capitalized on unforced errors by Kokkinakis to take the tiebreak, 7-2, and the first set 7-6(2).

 

Duckworth, who is ranked 164, said Kokkinakis served very well in the first set and that the difference was that he played a more aggressive tiebreak and got a big lead quickly. Duckworth said that he and Kokkinakis are “pretty good mates” and train together, and he thinks he has a great future ahead of him.

 

Kokkinakis struggled with his serve early in the second set, and Duckworth took advantage, attacking his second serve and again picking up points on Kokkinakis’ errors. Kokkinakis, who is ranked 298, described Duckworth’s groundstrokes as low and “awkward” and hard to get under.

 

Duckworth broke twice early to go up 4-0, but struggled himself with unforced errors in game five and gave one of those breaks back. After a Kokkinakis hold, Duckworth took the next game to go up 5-2.  Kokkinakis held again, and then serving at 5-3, Duckworth held and took the second set 6-3.

 

When asked about facing Ward in the finals for the second year in a row, Duckworth said he was very excited to be in the finals again.  Duckworth said “I am a better player this year” and he plans to “take it to him.”

James Duckworth s3

 (James Duckworth)

Great Britian’s Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith Win The Women’s Doubles Title

 

Great Britian’s Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith defeated Shuko Aoyama and Keri Wong, 6-4, 6-4, Saturday night to take the women’s doubles title at the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships.

 

The first set was a series of service breaks, the points won on great cross-court groundstrokes that set up volley winners for both teams rather than strong serves. Rae and Smith managed to pull out the win 6-4.  Aoyama and Smith were both very active at the net, playing off strong groundstrokes by their partners.

 

In the second set, 6-foot-2 Rae played very aggressive at the net, using her length to place several volley winners out of reach. Smith said of her partner’s play in the second set, “Jocelyn saved me; she was brilliant tonight.” This set was close as well, but again Rae and Smith managed to break more serves, including Wong’s in the final game to take the set, 6-4, and the match.

 

Rae said that she and Smith have been playing doubles together for about a year now and that it is great to be able to have the continuity of having a partner that you know so well. “We manage to find a way to pick each other up when we need to,” she said.

 

Rae and Smith are headed to Washington tomorrow to partner up again, and hope to come back next year to defend their title.

 

Peter Polansky Repeats With New Partner Adil Shamasdin as Doubles Champions

 

 

Canadians Peter Polansky and Adil Shamasdin defeated American Chase Buchanan and Ireland’s James McGee, 6-4, 6-2, to claim the men’s doubles titles Saturday night.

 

Polansky and Shamasdin broke early in the first set, and that one break proved to be enough as they took the first set 6-4 over the Buchanan and McGee. Despite facing a first serve percentage of 85 percent from Buchanan and McGee, Polansky and Shamasdin’s aggressive net play and well-placed groundstrokes proved too much for Buchanan and McGee.

 

When asked about his net play, Shamasdin said “He (Peter) made me look good.”  Polansky said that they just kept playing better as the tournament went on and were having fun on the court tonight.

 

The second set was more of the same as Polansky continued to use big cross-court groundstrokes to set up Shamasdin for the put-away volleys. Once both Polansky and Shamasdin were in at the net, Buchanan and McGee could not find a shot that would work against them. Breaking serve twice in the second set, Polansky and Shamasdin won easily 6-2 to take the second set, the match, and the doubles championship.

 

After the match, Polansky commented on being the doubles champion two years in a row, saying “this is an only-Canadians-finish-first tournament,” referring to the fact that he won last year with a Canadian partner, as well.  Shamasdin said the plan was to keep this doubles title “up north.”

 

Kentucky Bank Tennis Championship

A USTA Pro Circuit Event

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center

Lexington, KY

Surface: Hard

 

Saturday, July 26 – RESULTS

 

Women’s Singles – Semifinals

(7) Nicole Gibbs, USA, def. (5) Irina Falconi, USA, 7-5, 6-4,

(2) Madison Brengle, USA, def. (3) Melanie Oudin, USA, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

 

Women’s Doubles – Finals

(3) Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith, GBR, def. (2) Shuko Aoyama, JPN, and Keri Wong, USA, 6-4, 6-4.

 

Men’s Singles – Semifinals

(5) James Ward, GBR, def. Wayne Odesnik, USA, 6-3, 6-3,

(6) James Duckworth, AUS, def. WC-Thanasi Kokkinakis, AUS, 7-6(2), 6-3.

 

Men’s Doubles – Finals

(2) Peter Polansky and Adil Shamasdin, CAN, def. Chase Buchanan, USA, and James McGee, IRL, 6-4, 6-2.

 

Sunday, July 27 – SCHEDULE

 

Women’s Singles – Finals

Stadium 2 – Starting at 1 p.m.

(7) Nicole Gibbs, USA, vs. (2) Madison Brengle, USA.

 

Men’s Singles – Finals

Stadium 1 – Starting at 1 p.m.

(5) James Ward, GBR, vs. (6) James Duckworth, AUS.

 

 

For more information, contact:

RENA BAER, Tournament Press Aide

Cell: (859)351-3230

Email: rena.baer@twc.com

 

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