Florida Teen Profile: Pembroke Pines’ Kozlov Making Futures Circuit Impact
Stefan Kozlov, the 17-year-old Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident, claimed the second Futures title of his career earlier this month in the first USTA Pro Circuit event of 2016 in Los Angeles, Calif.
The sixth-seeded Kozlov, who won his first Futures title last fall in Belarus, defeated No. 4 seed Philip Bester of Canada 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 6-3 in the final of the $25,000 event, hosted by the University of Southern California. In the final, which took just shy of three hours to complete, Kozlov caught himself looking past the finish line when he took a 3-1 lead in the second set.
“I got up 3-1 in the second set and just got tight because I thought I had already won,” Kozlov told tournament press aide Steve Pratt. “But he was able to come back. It was a really tough match today.”
Kozlov had beaten top seed Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals and former junior rival Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals to advance to the final.
Now being coached by former ATP Top 20 player Andrei Cherkasov of Russia, a partnership that began before Kozlov’s first title in Belarus, Kozlov has trained for many years with both the USTA in Boca Raton and his father Andrei at the Kozlov Tennis Academy in Pembroke Pines.
With the 27 points from his second Futures title, Kozlov has seen his ATP ranking rise to a career high of 316.
“I always have a tough time playing these finals in the U.S. for some reason,” said Kozlov, who has finished runner-up in a Florida Futures, a California Challenger and the Kalamazoo 18s in the past 16 months. “Today I had a great team around me and was able to come through.”
Tunisia’s Jabeur Wins USTA Pro Circuit Daytona Beach Women’s Pro Championships
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the No. 3 seed, topped unseeded 17-year-old Olga Fridman of the Ukraine 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final of the ITF/USTA Pro Circuit 2016 Daytona Beach Women’s Pro Championships on Sunday at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
“I have to be more focused in the beginning and not let her play her game and not let her be comfortable in the beginning,” Jabeur told the Daytona Beach News-Journal of dropping the first set 6-0.
The 21-year-old Jabeur in the semifinals upset No. 2 seed Grace Min 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Jabeur started slowly in the final, seemingly trying to shake off her long three-setter the previous day, but stormed back to drop only six games over the final two sets.
“I have no idea what I’m doing, I just I had to take time to be warm, I think, and then get into the game,” she said.
In the early rounds Jabeur dispatched of Americans Taylor Townsend, the former No. 1 junior in the world in three sets, and another American in Bernarda Pera.
Jabeur, the 2011 French Open girls’ champ, survived three three-set wins during the week. She improved to 8-4 in career ITF-level finals, winning her first on U.S. soil. The teen Fridman is now 2-2 in ITF finals, winning last year at Joue-les-Tours, France, and in 2014 winning her career-first title at Istanbul, Turkey.
The doubles title was won by No. 4-seeded Russians Natela Dzalamidze and Veronika Kudermetova, who in the final defeated No. 3-seeded Canadians Sharon Fichman and Carol Zhao 6-4, 6-3.
Former Daytona Beach Women’s Open singles and doubles champs:
2016 — Ons Jabeur (TUN), Natela Dzalamidze/Veronika Kudermetova (RUS)
2015 — Darya Kasatkina (RUS), Jan Abaza/Sanaz Marand (USA)
2014 — Anna Tatishvili (GEO), Nicole Melichar (USA)/Teodora Mircic (SRB)
For more info go to www.protennisdaytona.com.