A team came within one match of making 71-year history, and champions former and new raised titles when the 18s and 16s divisions were completed at the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships, contested Oct. 5-7, 2019, at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
Boca Raton’s Lara Smejkal added a third “Bobby Doubles” title to her resume when she teamed with Plantation’s Natalie Block to win their first state title as a team in the Girls’ 18s division. In the final the No. 2-seeded Block-Smejkal upended the top-seeded team and 2018 defending champions Ayshe Can (Weston)/Karly Friedland (Hollywood) 6-1, 6-2. They had lost to the pair earlier this summer, but in this meeting allowed only three games to their opponents.
“Really from the first point we both were really feeling the ball, so I said to Lara, ‘Oh my god, we so got this,'” said Block, who adds the title to her Bobby Singles crown won last year in the Girls’ 14s division.
Smejkal won back-to-back mixed doubles titles in 2016-17 with Yair Gritzman in the Mixed 12s then the Mixed 14s. It was the first career Bobby Doubles title for Block. Can-Friedland were one match short of becoming the first team in the recorded history of the 71-year tournament to win back-to-back Girls’ 18s titles.
The Boys’ 18s final guaranteed first-time Bobby Doubles winners as the top-seeded squad of Gabriel Diaz (Rockledge)/Colin Tavares (Titusville) defeated No. 3 seeds Eric Berenblit (Palm Coast)/Sami Ozzor (Daytona Beach) 6-2, 7-6(2).
The two friends both train at the University of Central Florida facility in Orlando. Tavares said the key to the match was his partner “Not letting me freak-out when I wanted to” and helping him rein-in his emotions. “Yeah, managing his emotions, that’s where the chemistry comes into play,” Diaz said.
Last year’s Mixed 14s winner, Santiago Cardenas of Orlando, was the Boys’ 16s top seed with partner Zamaan Moledina (Delray Beach), winning the Boys’ 16s title with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 2 seeds Amadeus Charlez-Alcock (Melbourne Beach)/Max Lindstrom (Satellite Beach). The match was delayed by rain on Sunday and finished Monday indoors at the USTA National Campus.
“[Finishing indoors impacted the match] a little bit, it took away the momentum sometimes but I think we just brought the intensity both times so it all just came back,” Moledina said.
Two first-time winners were awarded in the Girls’ 16s final when No. 3 seeds Sophie Llewellyn (Tarpon Springs)/Ryan Wuhrman (Lake Worth) edged the unseeded team of former Bobby Doubles winners Valeria Centeno (Hialeah)/Brooke Dugarte (Miami) in a third-set super-tiebreaker 4-6, 6-1, 1-0.
“The first set we actually were up 4-1 and they had an amazing comeback to win 6-4, so we realized during the second set we had to keep going for it and not back down,” Wuhrman said afterwards. “This gives us a lot of confidence because being 13 and 14 years old — I mean winning the 16s is pretty cool.”
The Girls’ 16s finalist Centeno, last year’s Mixed 14s winner with Cardenas, was denied a second career Bobby Doubles crown. Dugarte was looking for a repeat after winning last year’s Girls’ 16s championship with former partner Violeta Martinez, and was attempting to win a third career Bobby Doubles title.
In the Mixed 18s doubles final Block/Tavares doubled their title tally, as the top seeds defeating No. 2 seeds Jakob Pilones (Bradenton)/Paradise Traub (Bradenton) 8-3.
Cardenas also doubled his title tally in the Mixed 16s final, teaming with Centeno to win back-to-back mixed titles on the heels of their Mixed 14s title last year. In the final as the No. 4 seeds they defeated the unseeded team of Charlie Cowan (Orlando)/Ryan Wuhrman (Lake Worth) 8-4. Cardenas/Centeno became the first team to win back-to-back Mixed 14-16 titles since Brittany Dubins/William Federhofer in 2005-06.
Division Final Results:
Girls’ 18s Doubles: (2) Lara Smejkal (Boca Raton)/Natalie Block (Plantation) d. (1) Ayshe Can (Weston)/Karly Friedland (Hollywood) 6-1, 6-2
Boys’ 18s Doubles: (1) Gabriel Diaz (Rockledge)/Colin Tavares (Titusville) d. (3) Eric Berenblit (Palm Coast)/Sami Ozzor (Daytona Beach) 6-2, 7-6(2)
Girls’ 16s Doubles: (3) Sophie Llewellyn (Tarpon Springs)/Ryan Wuhrman (Lake Worth) d. Valeria Centeno (Hialeah)/Brooke Dugarte (Miami) 4-6, 6-1, 1-0
Boys’ 16s Doubles: (1) Santiago Cardenas (Orlando)/Zamaan Moledina (Delray Beach) d. (2) Amadeus Charlez-Alcock (Melbourne Beach)/Max Lindstrom (Satellite Beach) 6-1, 6-3
Mixed 18 Doubles: (1) Natalie Block (Plantation)/Colin Tavares (Titusville) d. (2) Jakob Pilones (Bradenton)/Paradise Traub (Bradenton) 8-3
Mixed 16 Doubles: (4) Santiago Cardenas (Orlando)/Valeria Centeno (Hialeah) d. Charlie Cowan (Orlando)/Ryan Wuhrman (Lake Worth) 8-4
The 12s and 14s divisions of the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships will be held on Oct. 19-21, 2019.
Former “Bobby Curtis” State Doubles winners include two-time NCAA champ and current WTA pro Danielle Collins (18s-2010, Mixed 12s-2005), former WTA doubles world No. 1-ranked and Wimbledon winner Corina Morariu (16s-1992, 14s-1991) and former ATP players Andy Roddick (12s-1994) and Wayne Odesnik (14s-1999).
Former world No. 1s Chris Evert, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier are among the players that have raised trophies in singles at the tournament, previously known as the USTA Florida Jr. State Closed. Florida’s top junior event was renamed to honor the legendary Florida junior tennis organizer Bobby Curtis in 2012.
For draws, seeding and complete tournament info, click here to visit the tournament TennisLink site.