“Finals” Sunday at Kiwi Club in Indian Harbour Beach was a complete misnomer for double champion Taylor Townsend, who mind-numbingly had to play – and win – nearly four complete matches on the rain-soaked tournament’s final day to hoist both the Singles and Doubles trophies.
That she did, in emphatic fashion, and while it’s too soon to burden Townsend with hyperbolic expectations, her two week “double” at Charlottesville and Indian Harbour Beach has been pretty amazing, and it just may be that we’re seeing the birth of a new star in American tennis.
The weather cooperated, thankfully, with a cooler, less humid, breezy and mercifully sunny day, and the morning started off with the singles semis being played simultaneously on stadium court and court 4. On stadium, Townsend lost the first set and survived match points in the second against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit before ultimately prevailing 3-6 7-6 6-4.
In the other semifinal, Canada’s Heidi El Tabakh managed to overcome a slow start and the tirades of Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putinseva to come from a 0-3 and 1-4 deficit in the first set and take the early advantage, 6-4. The hot-headed Putinseva blew up after blowing her early advantage, smashing her racquet against the ground repeatedly at 4-3, and then yelling at herself, or her coach, or perhaps at nothing at all, for a few games, until the set was over.
That seemed to help the diminutive Putinseva, especially as the breeze picked up, as she ran down just about everything El Tabakh threw at her, or tried to, at least. In the gustier conditions, El Tabakh’s bigger groundstrokes and far bigger serve were somewhat compromised, and as more errors crept in, the retrieving ability of Putinseva proved decisive. Putinseva claimed the second set 6-3, then broke to a 5-1 lead in the third before El Tabakh rallied with a hold and break of her own to close it to 3-5 before a horrible wind-plagued serving game cost her the match, Putinseva prevailing 4-6 6-3 6-3.
(SE)Taylor Townsend (USA) def. Anett Kontaveit (EST) 36 76(4) 64
(7)Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) def. Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) 46 63 63
After a two hour break, the finalists were back on court, in front of an eager and anticipatory crowd. It was an anticlimactic final, however, as Taylor Townsend proved to have too much in the tank for the obviously spent Putinseva, as Taylor mowed her down, 6-1 6-1. Taylor obviously deserved her title, though I can’t help wondering how the result might have differed had the semis and final not been played on the same day. Putinseva did an awful lot of running in her match against El Tabakh, and played a longer match in the morning. Townsend, by contrast, plays very quick points–she either forces her opponents into errors, hits them herself, or hits winners, and the points are over in a matter of a couple of strokes. We’ll never actually know for sure, of course, but it’s likely Taylor actually benefitted from having to play both the singles semifinal and final on Sunday.
Now, the same probably cannot be said for her doubles endeavors later in the day! Already tuckered from two singles matches, Taylor Townsend paired up with Asia Muhammad not once but twice to play, and win doubles matches against Josie Kuhlman and Peggy Porter and then Sanaz Marand and Jan Abaza, to capture the 2014 Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic doubles title to go along with her singles crown. Quite an impressive achievement for the seventeen year old star in the making.
Double results – Semifinal:
(2)Muhammad/Townsend (USA/USA) def. (wc)Kuhlman/Porter (USA/USA) 63 46 10-5
(2)Muhammad/Townsend (USA/USA) def. Abaza/Marand (USA/USA) 62 61
That’s a wrap from this year’s Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic. As always, it was a pleasure attending this fantastic USTA Pro Circuit event, which boasts a fun and friendly atmosphere, great crowd, and some awesome tennis, year after year. Already looking forward to next year!