Japan’s Mayu Crossley and South Korea’s Gerard Campana Lee won the girls’ and boys’ 18s singles titles, respectively, at the 76th Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, which concluded Sunday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla.
Crossley, a 16-year-old who trains in nearby Boca Raton, Fla., completed the junior tennis equivalent of the “Sunshine Double” by winning the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, held last week in Bradenton, Fla., and the Orange Bowl in consecutive weeks. Unseeded in Plantation, she knocked off fifth-seeded American Clervie Ngounoue (16; Washington, D.C.) in the final, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“I didn’t think that I would win [the tournament], I was just happy to make the final,” said Crossley. “I had no pressure on me. I’m always the challenger so that’s good for me. I was able to play relaxed.”
With the victory, Crossley became the first Japanese player to win the prestigious event that counts tennis legends such as Chris Evert and Mary Joe Fernandez, as well as Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff more recently, amongst its former champions.
No. 1 seed Campana Lee also made history as he became the first player representing South Korea to win an Orange Bowl 18s singles title. The 18-year-old knocked off No. 2 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, in the boys’ 18s final.
Campana Lee, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the ITF World Junior Rankings joins a list of former Orange Bowl boys’ 18s champions including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendel, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Dominic Thiem.
“I am so tired I don’t feel any emotion but in a couple of hours I think I will realize that I won a very big tournament and I will be very happy,” said Campana Lee, who was also a boys’ 18s doubles finalist.
“The first day with my coach we saw the list [of former champions] before my first match and we didn’t see any Korean players so I told him it would be funny to see my name up there and now I guess it’s going to be there,” he continued. “It’s amazing to see more Asian players coming up competing against the best in the world.”
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