Tyler O’Meara, Sam Philp, Victoria DiMuzio, Sofija Zecevic, Anna Philp
Ekaterina (Katy) Shulaeva and Mike Hall had the pleasure of taking a team of ACE Tennis players down to Florida to participate in the Eddie Herr International event this past November. The event attracts the world’s best junior tennis players from many nations to compete. As a bonus, there are local tournaments known as the “Casely’s” for players to participate in prior to the Eddie Herr and after they were eliminated.
This year we had a group of 11 players to oversee throughout the tour. The team was comprised of some great Canadian juniors who are training with ACE Tennis.
- Maria Patrascu – U16 National Finalist, U18 National top 3
- Victoria DiMuzio – U14 National Finalist, U16 National top 3
- Sofija Zecevic – Previous U12 National Champion, U14 National top 8
- Maria Tanasescu – U12 National Champion
- Viktoriya Tabunshchyk – U12 National top 4
- Iryna Kostirko – U16 National top 5
- Bianca Zuzu – U16 Nationals competitor
- Anna Philp – U14 Nationals competitor
- Sam Philp – U16 Nationals competitor
- Alberto Vergara – U12 Nationals competitor
- Tyler O’Meara – Previous U12 Nationals competitor
With a strong team of Canadian juniors we felt pretty good about our chances at some success. Five of our players were in the main draw with the others having to qualify.
Qualifying Day 1:
Alberto Vergara opened the day by winning his opening round match in straight sets fairly easily. Anna Philp lost a close match 76 62, and Tyler O’Meara fell 63 62 to a strong opponent. Bianca Zuzu and Iryna Kostirko both backed up the team by having strong performances and winning in straight sets. Sam Philp was able to win his qualifying match with ease.
Anna and Tyler were both able to take away some positives from their matches and moved on to play the Casely’s events to gain extra matches and experience.
Qualifying Day 2:
Alberto Vergara started the day again in the boys U12 second round qualifying. Alberto went down to a tough opponent – playing against Petr Korda’s son. Iryna and Bianca and Sam all once again had very strong showings and were able to pass the second round in straight sets.
Things were looking good for the team. We had three players in the final round of qualifying and 5 already in the main draw!
Qualifying Day 3:
Bianca and Iryna were both on first. We did not know Iryna’s opponent well but were very familiar with Bianca’s opponent, a fellow Canadian Ayan Broomfield. Iryna took care of business fairly quickly in the first set 61 and except for small lapse in concentration in the second, played well enough and booked her spot in the main draw 61 64. Bianca was playing a very solid match, but unfortunately for her so was Ayan. Ayan took the match in straight sets and we awaited Bianca’s fate hoping she would be a lucky loser for a chance to play in the main draw. As for Sam, he continued to roll through the qualifying draw winning his match in straight sets as well. Sam was playing with a lot of confidence and we were excited to see what he would be capable of doing in the main daw. Two of our players had now qualified for the main draw bringing our total to seven.
Main Draw Day 1:
Bianca was lucky enough to receive a “lucky loser” entry into the main draw by getting to the last round of qualifying. This brought our total to eight players in the main draw! The first round of main draw is divided up into two days so only Sofija Zecevic, Viktoriya Tabunshchyk and Sam Philp were scheduled to play on the first day.
Both Sofija and Viktoriya (or Vita how her friends call her) were in tough playing highly seeded players in the first round. The girls fought tough but were ultimately defeated in their first round matches. Both girls are in their first year of their age groups and will be back next year for another chance.
Sam Philp was scheduled to play later in the day and made for some exciting tennis. Sam was up against a very tough American player with a strong serve and very steady mentally. Sam lost the first set by only one break, but was able to get an early break in the second and hold serve to force a third set. In the third, Sam lost his serve at 3-4 and the opponent was able to hold to end the match.
Many lessons learned for the players. A disappointing day from a results standpoint.
Main Draw Day 2:
This day started off much better than the previous with Maria Tanasescu winning her first round match in straight sets with ease. Next up was Iryna Kostirko – fresh off three victories in the qualifying – but was unable to keep her momentum losing out to another strong American girl. Victoria DiMuzio was also on the losing end of her first round match. Maria Patrascu and Bianca Zuzu had the last 2 matches of the day. Both players were up against very steady opponents. Maria lost the first set but was able to capitalize on a tiring opponent and win the second set. Unfortunately, due to a string of unforced errors at the start of the third, her opponent was a able to get back into the match and take the third set. Bianca’s match also became a third setter and went the distance in the third. At 5-5 in the third set, Bianca’s opponent began to cramp and Bianca was able to outlast her taking the third 7-5.
To be honest, we were a little bummed out as a team. We started the main draw with eight players and only two were left after the first round.
Main Draw Day 3:
Maria Tanasescu was up against a very solid opponent. The girl did not have many weapons but was willing to stay out there, fight, and run all day if need be. The match was approximately four hours long and at 5-4 in the third set Maria had three match points. The opponent was able to fight off all the match points with steady play and level the match at 5-5. Maria was a bit distraught over this and with some strong play from her opponent went out 5-7. Bianca, our last hope, was up later on against a seeded player. Again, the girl did not pose a threat with too many weapons, but was willing to stay out there for 50-60 balls to earn each point and was able to break down Bianca with her consistency and patience.
And just like that, our Eddie Herr experience came to an end. We had the players each write a brief summary of what they experienced in their matches and how they felt the competition was better than them. It was pretty unanimous in that the players felt like they were defeated on a mental level more than anything else. These international level players were tougher mentally, fought extremely hard for each point – willing to stay out there forever if need be.
Since returning back to our academy, we have seen a positive change from many of the players in their training habits, and work ethic. Many of them understand what they are lacking now to become a true international level player and are making the necessary adjustments to their training in order to come back next year stronger and able to compete on such a stage.
We would like to thank ACE Tennis for organizing the tour for the players and coaches to continue their development, as well at the Ontario Tennis Association for supporting the players on the tour. We look forward to providing the players with more opportunities such as these in the future, and hopefully with more success each time!