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Hibino Is Perfect in Lexington Challenger

 

News Release – August 3, 2015
Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships
www.lexingtonchallenger.com

 

Hibino Is Perfect in Lexington Challenger

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For a player to compete in both the doubles and singles competition in the same tournament is an accomplishment in itself. Throw in 90 degree heat and 100 percent humidity, multiple matches in one day, unpredictable rain delays and some of the best opponents in the world – that makes a real challenge for a professional tennis player.

This is exactly what Nao Hibino, age 20 from Japan, faced when she came to the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships this week. Yet this didn’t deter the #138 ranked player in the world from defeating all her competition throughout the 10-day event and winning both the women’s doubles and singles championship.

After playing two matches on Saturday night, one of which was the doubles championship finals that she won with fellow partner Emily Webley-Smith, Hibino had to bounce back and compete in the women’s singles finals the following day. Her opponent was the U.S. Open Wildcard Challenge winner Samantha Crawford, a 20 year old from Atlanta, Georgia.

In the finals match that took place under grueling heat, Hibino jumped out on top early, breaking Crawford twice in the first set to win 6-2. With the momentum behind her and fueled by a tournament of flawless play, Hibino surged through the second set to win 6-1 and capture the women’s singles tournament championship.

“I can’t believe I won two titles in one week, what should I say, I’m so happy to be winning right now. I feel like I’m playing my best tennis ever and I did the best that I could do,” said Hibino after winning the singles championship.

Her opponent, Samantha Crawford, made a very impressive and important run deep into this Lexington Challenger, earning her enough points to edge out her fellow American women contenders in the U.S. Open Wildcard Challenge race and guarantee herself a spot in the main draw of the upcoming Grand Slam tournament taking place in Flushing Meadows, New York.

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Victory For The Aussie in Men’s Championship – Millman Edges Out Hot Opponent

John Millman knew he had a tough battle on his hands coming into the men’s singles championship match. He would face the Lexington Challenger’s hottest opponent, Yasutaka Uchiyama, who had beaten all the top seeded player up through this point in the tournament.

Millman, a 26 year old from Australia who is currently ranked #96 in the world, had made it to the finals of two previous Challenger events this year but came up on the losing end in each match. When having to face his opponent in the finals of the Lexington Challenger, Uchiyama, he knew that the grind was on, for Uchiyama had toppled all his opponents thus far as the underdog. Millman was entering the finals match at the #2 seeded player in the tournament while Uchiyama was the “Lucky Loser” who couldn’t lose.

“I knew he was playing extremely well and beating great players all tournament long. His ball striking and his service has been great all week long, that is a deadly combination. I was a little worried about how that was going to play into his hand for this championship match,” said Millman about his opponent.

Uchiyama is the first player in the history of the Lexington Challenger to make it to the finals as the “Lucky Loser” of the tournament. Quite an accomplishment given the competition he faced along the way.

The men’s final match was indeed a great competition. Millman won the first match by a break 6-3, only to have Uchiyama do the same in the second set, taking it 6-3. The third set went back and forth with each player grinding out long points and not succumbing to the other. Eventually Millman caught a glimpse of hope during the third set with the game score at 5-4. Uchiyama was serving at 30-30 and gave way to Millman, who hit an incredible lunging backhand slice to get to match point.

When asked about getting to the break point for the match, Millman said, “I never give up, I try to chase down every ball that I can possibility get. I was very lucky that it came off as well as it did, I premeditated that shot as it came off the racquet. I hit it just about perfect and probably caught Uchiyama by surprise. Just relief in the end.”

Millman went on to break Uchiyama and win the men’s finals championship, 6-3 3-6 6-4.

 

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For more information, please contact media coordinator Christopher Ware at 205-960-8009 or chris.madison.ware@gmail.com.

 

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