Two back-to-back champions highlighted the final day on Wednesday at the 69th USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Singles Championships, where winners raised trophies in the boys’ and girls’ 18-16 divisions at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, and the 14-12 divisions at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.
Both 18s finals were grinders going the distance in hot and humid conditions as top-seeded Alana Wolfberg of Orlando outlasted No. 9 seed Ysabel Gonzalez Rico of Miami 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2, and No. 3 seed Michael Heller of Boca Raton upset top-seeded Evan Bynoe of Parkland 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-3.
For Wolfberg it was a second straight Bobby Curtis title after claiming the Girls’ 16s last year. In a difficult all-lefty battle for both players Wolfberg led 4-1 in both the first and second sets before closing it out in the third.
“In the third set I was standing a little too far behind the baseline so I decided I was going to step in a little more, be a little bit more aggressive,” said the 16 year old who is coached by her father. “I never really want to play [lefties] because they’re like me…it was classic lefty tennis and I experienced the total effect of that today.”
The Orlando resident, who lives just 15 minutes from the new USTA National Campus, says she looks forward to September and her junior year when she can start talking with college coaches. “I couldn’t have asked for more this year,” she says. “I have won two [Level] 3s, two L5s, an L4 and an L2 in Georgia — I’ve been on the top of my game I guess. Hopefully it continues this summer at the nationals.”
The Boys’ 18s champion Heller was also familiar with receiving top accolades, on Wednesday capturing his second Bobby Curtis title following the Boys’ 16s crown in 2015.
“We train together, and we both know each other’s games,” said Heller, coached by his father, of his frequent opponent and friend Bynoe. “It was just a matter of who was going to hang in there and compete harder. In the second set he got a lot more aggressive and started taking control…we’ve been playing against each other since we were nine. I played Evan a couple months ago in high school tennis and he beat me in three sets at states.”
The 17-year-old Heller, who played at the French Open juniors this year after winning a wild card tournament, plans to play ITF events this summer in addition to the USTA national clay courts and hard courts.
While the 18s were grinding claycourt affairs, both 16s finals were off the court quickly.
Ft. Lauderdale’s Demi Snyder wrapped-up her unseeded Cinderella run in the Girls’ 16s final, rolling past No. 10 seed Molly Heber of Boca Raton 6-1, 6-1. In addition to the No. 10 seed, Snyder upset the Nos. 1, 3, 6, and 9 seeds en route to her first “Bobby Curtis” state title.
“I went up 4-0 in the first set, but I knew in a final she would never give up,” said Snyder, who had played Heber earlier in the year, winning a 7-5 second set. “I told myself, ‘You’ve got to stay strong in this second set.”
A full-time student, Snyder came into the tournament unseeded as she put all her energy into her studies until 5-6 months ago when she started playing tournaments again.
“I didn’t have the tournaments as my top priority but lately my passion for tennis and my love for it has been rekindled,” said the first-year 16s competitor, who plays high school varsity tennis and was named the Broward County Player of the Year this spring. “I’ve wanted to play tournaments more and enter more of the big ones.”
Snyder is coached by Melinda Czink, a former Top 50 WTA tour player from Hungary. “Now that I’ve done well here, I hope that these points carry me to [USTA national] clay courts at Virginia Beach and hopefully hard courts in San Diego.”
In the Boys’ 16s final No. 4-seeded Logan Zapp of Fleming Island defeated No. 8 seed Matthew Segura of Apopka 6-4, 6-1. A raw talent without a coach, Zapp turned around an 0-3 start in the first set to win 12 of the next 14 games.
“It was basically trying to warm up and get a feel,” said the soft-spoken Zapp, who says he looks forward to playing “anywhere I can play” collegiately. “Then I was like, ‘OK, I can come back now.’ I tied it back up at 3-all and got the momentum and everything switched.”
Orlando’s Jack Anthrop was the other repeat winner, capturing the Boy’s 14s title as the top seed a year after winning his first Bobby Curtis title in the Boys’ 12s. The top seeds were also winners in the Girls’ 14s and Boys’ 12s.
Division winners (seeds in parenthesis):
Boys’ 18: (3) Michael Heller (Boca Raton, FL) d. (1) Evan Bynoe (Parkland, FL) 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-3
Girls’ 18: (1) Alana Wolfberg (Orlando, FL) d. (9) Ysabel Gonzalez Rico (Miami, FL) 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2
Boys’ 16: (4) Logan Zapp (Fleming Island, FL) d. (8) Matthew Segura (Apopka, FL) 6-4, 6-1
Girls’ 16: Demi Snyder (Ft Lauderdale, FL) d. (10) Molly Heber (Boca Raton, FL) 6-1, 6-1
Boys’ 14: (1) Jack Anthrop (Orlando, FL) d. (3) Jonah Braswell (Sarasota, FL) 6-4, 6-4
Girls’ 14: (1) Emily De Oliveira (Bradenton, FL) d. (8) Elaine Chervinsky (Boca Raton, FL) 6-2, 6-0
Boys’ 12: (1) Yannik Rahman (Miami, FL) d. (2) Leanid Boika (Delray Beach, FL) 6-2, 6-3
Girls’ 12: (3) Grace Levelston (Vero Beach, FL) d. (1) Lara Smejkal (Boca Raton, FL) 6-1, 6-2
The USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships is the most competitive USTA Section junior championships in the U.S., spawning the most players of any USTA Section to go on to the professional circuit and rank No. 1 in the world. Former “Bobby Curtis” champs who have gone on to rank No. 1 in the world on the ATP and WTA rankings:
* Chris Evert (1971 Girls’ 18, 1970-69 Girls’ 16, 1968 Girls’ 14, and 1966 Girls’ 10 champion)
* Jennifer Capriati (1986 Girls’ 12 champion)
* Jim Courier (1986 Boys’ 18 champion)
* Andy Roddick (1996 Boys’ 14, 1994 Boys’ 12 champion)
In 2012 the tournament was renamed the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships in honor of legendary Florida junior tennis organizer Bobby Curtis.
For more tournament info, including links to complete draws and results, go to www.ustaflorida.com/bobbycurtis.
Review Day 1 Results
Review Day 2 Results
Review Day 3 Results
Review Day 4 Results