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South Jersey Tennis:
A Busy Morning of Finals at the Moorestown Junior Open

Thursday, June 27, 2002

By Sanipa Koetsawasdi
SJSports Staff Writer

It was a pretty busy morning for the finalists today as three simultaneous matches, girls' 14-year-old, boys' 10-year-old, and boys' 12-year-old players, all started their games at 9:00am. Not too long afterwards, the boys' 16-year-old players would be joining the other players around 10:30am, battling it out for their championships.

All of the players had mixed reactions going into the finals. Elizabeth Sitzler, who played for the girls'14-year-old singles and defeated Elissa Decampli in the semifinals, felt that she could not win in the finals. Losing twice before has shaken her confidence. Before going into the finals, Sitzler felt she needed to practice different shots, work on her top spins, serves, and be able to adjust to the way different people play their games. Sitzler's opponent, Jillian Horn, felt quite differently before the finals. Horn had defeated Samantha Schwartz in the semifinals and felt very confident, thinking that she could win going into the finals. Unfortunately, how you feel before a game does not always predict the outcome of the game.

Sitzler ended up winning 7-5, 6-3 against Horn. Sitzler was very happy after winning and still couldn't believe she won. "I didn't think I'd get a trophy," she said after the finals. Even though she won, she knew she still needed to work on her footwork. Horn, having the confidence before the finals, being able to play right, work hard, admittedly said after the game, "I haven't been played a lot, she's [Sitzler] been playing a lot, and I'm hurt." She thought her chances of actually winning were 50/50. Horn knew that to improve her games, she had to work on her footwork behind the line. Horn felt that this was an off day for her and that she was simply "outplayed" by Sitzler. She knew she had to work harder, and was happy about her performance. Emotionally distraught, but being able to pick herself up and out of the loss of her game, her last graceful sportsmanship quote was that "she [Sitzler] played a good match." Sitzler will be playing at Veteran's Park next week and Horn will be playing in a couple of upcoming tournaments.

Playing at adjacent courts to the girls were the boys 10-year-old singles players, Jason Berry and Storm Portner. Berry was able to defeat Michael Bass in the semifinals and really wanted to win going into the semifinals because this was his last time playing in the boys' 10-year-old singles bracket. Storm was able to defeat Jayantha Vatson in the semifinals. Storm felt a little bit nervous before the finals, and thought he could possibly win. In the end, Berry was able to win 7-5, 6-3 against Storm. Berry thought he did alright during the finals tournament. Berry still knew that even though he won, he did not do as well as he had hoped he would. He really needed to work on his first and second serves. Berry plans to be on vacation and stated, "[this is] pretty much it for the next two weeks." Storm, looking back at the game said, "first I lost, but then I thought maybe I could come back. Then, I messed up a bit." Storm felt he needed to work on his second serve and keeping the points longer. Storm's next tournament will be in about another month.

Also playing at this time at the other end of the courts were the boys' 12-year-old singles players and friends, Gabrielle Allen and Max Rubin. Allen was able to defeat Raj Putatunda, and Rubin was able to defeat Jason Berry (who currently played and won the boys' 10-year-old singles) in the semifinals. Allen felt great after winning. Allen has played Rubin a couple of times before at tournaments. Being friends, Allen stated that since "we're best friends, it's kind of hard playing a friend. He beat me the last two times on clay and grass. It's pretty nice to beat him finally." Because these tournaments were being played on hard courts, Allen was asked if he was more comfortable playing on hard courts rather than on the clay and grass courts. Allen said no and explained that the week he played against Rubin on the grass courts was also the same week he played Rubin on clay. For Allen, it was a hard adjustment to make between the two. Allen definitely was "the beast" as he stated today. Defeating Rubin 6-3,6-0, he started to explain his strategies against his friend, Rubin. At first, he stated he was playing very carefully in the warm up until he realized as he switched sides, that he was able to use the wind to his advantage during the game. In retrospect, he knew he had missed a couple of shots he should not have missed and thought he should have worked Rubin more back and forth on the court, which he finally did at the end of the match. Rubin thought he had a chance, at first, but felt that Allen "just took advantage of me. I just didn't have a shot." Rubin stated, "next time, I'm not giving him any shots." Rubin needs to work on "putting everything away and not getting a second serve." Rubin will be entering a couple of upcoming tournaments including the doubles tournaments. Allen, who is a big tournament player, will be entering the Grass Court Tournament in Philadelphia, a couple of SR's (Sectional Ranked tournaments), and will try to do his best at his boys' 14-year-old singles event here at the Moorestown Junior Open tomorrow.

As the games go on, boys' 16-year-old singles players, Chris Hoeland and Michael Newgas join the scene to play their final tournament. Hoeland was able to defeat Devin Kearns, and Newgas was able to defeat Andrew Maisel in the semifinals. Before the tournament, Hoeland said he felt pretty good after the semifinals, but knew he still had to work at being steadier at the baseline and not to go for so many shots where he could not make it. He stated, "I know it's going to be tough. I came back from pretty far down yesterday. I have to put away my shots when I have the chance."

As for Newgas, he also felt pretty good after the semifinals especially when he didn't think he was going to win in it. He felt he needed more power in his game and he was definitely ready for the finals. When it came down to it all, Hoeland was able to defeat Newgas 6-0, 6-0. It was complete domination for Hoeland. His response after the game was, “I felt I played real well. I guess I just won the bigger points.” Hoeland volleyed well, taking all the hard shots. Hoeland kept thinking about his game yesterday, knowing that Newgas could still come back, “so I better just keep playing hard and not take it slow, maybe even step it up.” In future tournaments, Hoeland knows he still needs to work on everything. He stated that, “everything can be improved on, especially [my] ground stroke, playing steady, aggressively, not pushing.” Newgas thought he played well and simply stated, “He's [Hoeland] just a better player.” Newgas knows that in the future, if he plays against Hoeland, he needs to work on his passing shots and get Hoeland working because “he [Hoeland] kept working me.” Newgas’ plans will be to go on vacation and possibly play some tournaments when he comes back. Hoeland's next tournament will be at Veteran's Park.

Photos by Art Redd

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