American power hitter Clervie Ngounoue halts European charge at ITF tournament in Newlands
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The 15-year-old American Clervie Ngounoue halted the European charge on Friday's semi-finals day at the David Samaai Junior Open, the ITF Junior Grade A tournament, which is underway at the Kelvin Grove Sports Complex in Newlands, Cape Town.
European-based players were poised to make a clean sweep to secure all the berths in Saturday's championship events (boys and girls) but the sixth-seeded Ngounoue broke the stranglehold with a straight-sets 7-5 6-2 win over the second-seeded Russian Ksenia Zaytseva.
It will prove to be a lucrative win for Ngounoue when the latest ITF Junior girls rankings will be announced on Monday. Ngounoue, 15, is presently at 48 on the rankings and Zaytseva, 17, is in a top-20 slot at 18th.
Ngounoue, 15, came in well prepared to challenge for the title. She played in last week's Stellenbosch event after playing several tournaments around the world. This year she played in three junior Grand Slams at the French, Wimbledon and US Open. She hopes to make her Aussie Open debut next year.
She hails from Washington, DC and has also played a sprinkling of senior events in recent months.
Ngounoue is based at the multimillion-dollar Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France. The 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams has been the face of the academy since she was coached by Patrick Mouratoglou, who heads up the famous tennis facility.
Ngounoue will play the third-seeded Croatian Petra Marcinko in the final. The 20th-ranked Marcinko defeated seventh Yaroslava Bartashevich (56) of Russia 6-4 6-2.
Marcinko has also played three junior Slams this year and prior to coming out to South Africa, she played three tournaments in Tunisia. She is the only player in the tournament to have graduated to both singles and doubles finals.
Marcinko played with Johanne Christine Svendsen (17) of Denmark, and are seeded No 2. They saw off the top-seeded Czech pair Brenda Fruhvirtova and Barbora Palicova 6-3 6-2 in the final.
In the boys doubles final, Jakub Mensik (CZE) and his partner Peter Privara (SVK), the top seeds, lost to the unseeded pairing of Paul Inchauspe (FRA) and Thailand's Tanapatt Nirundorn.
The defeat meant that the third-seeded Mensik lost out on making it a double after he reached the boys final following his 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-2 win over Poland's unseeded Borys Zgola.
The other boys singles final berth went to the top-seeded Swede Leo Borg who dispatched German seventh seed Neo Niedner 6-3 6-1.