Laiho turns up heat to capture title

U. of Florida junior survives in satellite final

August 02, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Still groggy from being sick the past few days, Whitney Laiho said she'll have to wait a few weeks to truly enjoy her 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Vilmarie Castellvi in the final of the USTA Satellite Tournament of Baltimore at Druid Hill Park yesterday.

The final featured two women who were exhausted by the end from the five-day tournament in the record-setting Baltimore heat.

"I'll probably enjoy winning this tournament more when it hits me in a few weeks. Right now, I'm not thinking about it," Laiho said.

"Whitney just played awesome," said Castellvi, who is from Puerto Rico and will attend the University of Tennessee on a tennis scholarship in the fall. "We were both dead tired. We had a long week. I had no energy left. I couldn't get my legs back."

As tired as she was, Castellvi came back in the third set after losing her serve in the fourth game. She broke Laiho to even the score at 4-4 before Laiho came back to break Castellvi in the next game by sending a backhand down the line. The University of Florida junior fought off one last break point in the next game to serve out the match.

"I was wondering if I had enough in me to keep going," Laiho said. "I just kept focusing, and I didn't think about losing. I'm still sick, but I'm able to walk."

Laiho can attribute her fatigue to being sick with strep throat, but Castellvi can blame Laiho for tiring her out at the end. Laiho used the entire court throughout the three sets to wear Castellvi down.

In the final set, Castellvi was forced to use drop shots and lobs in trying to force Laiho into errors and end the points quickly.

"I was just playing my game and hitting the ball from side to side and waiting until I got the short ball," said Laiho, who won $1,600. "Then I just tried to take advantage of the short balls."

Castellvi looked good early in the match, not losing her serve in the first set and breaking Laiho on a drop shot to go up 5-3.

Laiho came back in the second set, not losing her serve and breaking Castellvi in the second game on a double fault.

In the doubles final, Lauren Klavaria and Marie-Eve Pelletier defeated Candice Jairala and Nadia Johnston, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Klavaria and Pelletier had never played together before this tournament. The two staved off a triple set point in the first set to come back and win a tiebreaker.

"It was hard for them to come back after that," Klavaria said. "We just came up with some good points at that time."

This was the first year of this tournament, and tournament director David Owens said: "I think this year, for a first-year tournament, we did real well. The money invested in this tournament is going directly to the youth and to the grass-roots programs."

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