Zawacki has answers, satellite title

17-year-old keeps her cool despite heat, humidity


July 22, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Tory Zawacki was making her first final appearance in yesterday's Fourth Annual Holabird Sports/USTA Women's Satellite Tour championship at Druid Hill Tennis Center, but you would have never guessed.

The unseeded 17-year-old New Jersey native, a high school senior now residing in Hilton Head Island, S.C., confidently came up with the answers at all the right times to defeat fourth-seeded Aiko Nakamura of Japan in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, and leave with the day's biggest trophy, $1,600 in prize money and a huge smile.

Vilmarie Castellvi and Agnes Wiski, University of Tennessee partners, outlasted Natalie Dziamidzenka and Jin Hee Kim, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, for the doubles crown.

Behind a strong serve and unmatched pace on ground strokes in a match played mostly at the baseline, Zawacki overpowered Nakamura to come out on top of the 32-player field.

Getting through five rounds and all the heat and humidity that came with it made the week in Baltimore that much more satisfying for Zawacki, who is still an amateur as she considers college or turning pro.

"I played a lot of great players all week, so I knew I had to be playing well because I was able to pull those out," said Zawacki, who upset top-seeded Jin of South Korea in the second round. "I knew [Nakamura] was going to be tough, too, so I just bit my lip and went in there to be ready for the best."

She opened by winning the first four games and then when Nakamura, who turned pro earlier this year, settled in to get the first set even at 4, Zawacki was able to regroup.

Strong first serves and a key backhand winner from the baseline that found the left corner put Zawacki up 5-4, and then she broke Nakamura by forcing errors with deep returns.

"At four-all, it has happened to me before so I just told myself I had been through this so many times, I just had to make her play and that's what I did," Zawacki said. "I didn't want to give the first set away, and I knew I just had to go out and earn it."

Nakamura was up 5-3 in the second set when Zawacki battled back to get even at 5 and then took control with the longest game of the afternoon. She overcame three break points to take a 6-5 lead and then enjoyed a love game for the championship.

"I felt when I was able to put the pressure on her that she couldn't always take it," Zawacki said. "She's a good player from the back, but she's a little uncomfortable with the pace. I felt if I could keep the pressure on, I would eventually get a short ball to close points out."

After not surrendering a set to their first three doubles opponents, Castellvi and Wiski responded favorably at their first hint of adversity when Jin and Dziamidzenka took the second set to draw even. With Castellvi seemingly chasing down every ball and Wiski controlling the net, plus strong serving and serve returns from both, the former college teammates pulled through.

On championship point, a strong serve from Castellvi set up an easy smash at the net from Wiski for the win.

"We just stayed really confident and kept going forward. We just said we're not holding back for anything," said Castellvi, who will be a senior at Tennessee. Wiski graduated in the spring.

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