Some of the area’s top players finished off 2015 competing at the USTA National Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Mixed Open Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
The tournament’s finals were played on New Year’s Eve, as players and spectators closed out 2015 with some high-quality tennis.
In the Men’s Singles Final, Shawn Hadavi of Columbia took on Josh Silverstein of Iowa in a thrilling championship match.
Silverstein, who hails from Great Neck, N.Y., raced out to the early lead by taking the first set 6-2. But the second-seeded Hadavi fought back, forcing a tie-breaker in the second-set. And in the tie-breaker, Hadavi turned up the heat, including the final baseline winner that earned him the second-set win and forced a deciding third set.
Hadavi carried that momentum into the third set, breaking early to open up a 3-0 advantage. He wouldn’t look back and went on to win the final set and capture the title with a 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 comeback victory.
“I had a couple of tough matches previously in the tournament, so I was kind of tired and sore,” said Hadavi. “He had a break point to go up 5-1 and he missed a few shots, so I tried to just make it interesting and sneak out my own break. I was able to do that and went from there. I felt like I didn’t play my best, but once I was able to hang around and had a few points go my way I felt like I could get back into it.”
In another thrilling final, 15-year-old Marcella Cruz took on fourth-seeded Quinn Gleason, who plays her college tennis at Notre Dame.
Cruz, who trains out of the National Tennis Center, held a 5-1 lead in the opening set, before Gleason rallied back to win six straight games and win the first set 7-5. Cruz fought back and won the second set 6-3 to force the match into a third set.
Gleason would turn an 0-2 third set deficit into a 5-4 lead, but Cruz dug in from there. She turned up her intensity and rattled off the final three games to win the set 7-5 and capture the title.
“I feel I played very well, especially in the big moments. It was a tight match the whole time and I think I was able to pull out some really good tennis,” said Cruz.
About her comeback, Cruz said: “Experience definitely came into play. It happened to me just a couple of weeks ago at the Junior Orange Bowl. I ended up losing that match and it was definitely a learning experience for me.”
St. John’s senior Vaidik Munshaw paired up with former St. John’s player and assistant coach Gustavo Loza, and the duo knocked off University of Buffalo’s Ethan Nittolo & Columbia’s Daniel Grunberger 6-4, 6-2 in the Men’s Doubles final.
Loza & Munshaw were able to secure early breaks in each set to take control and win the title in straight sets.
“This is the first tournament we’ve played together, but we both love doubles and we are enjoying the competition,” said Loza. “I think today was just about playing solid, making a lot of returns and good volleying. And we were able to do that.”
The Dartmouth duo of Taylor Ng & Katherine Yau battled back from a set down to beat Rima Asatrian of Columbia & Kelly Williford of Virginia Tech 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Women’s Doubles final.
“We’re teammates in school and play a lot together so I think that contributed to our success today,” said Yau, a Manhasset native. “We are very comfortable playing together, and have played these two in both doubles and singles before, so we sort of knew how they played and I think we just needed to stay aggressive.”
While Williford fell short in the Women’s Doubles final, she would win the Mixed Doubles title, pairing with Bucknell’s Nicholas Bybel to defeat the Brooklyn duo of Keith Kessler & Jessica Livianu 7-6(5), 6-4.
Credit all photos to Brian Coleman
Marcela Cruz sets up during her win over Quinn Gleason in the Women's Singles final
Shawn Hadavi gets ready to hit a backhand during his win over Josh Silverstein in the Men's Singles final
Katherine Yau & Taylor Ng of Dartmouth came back from a set down to win the Women's Doubles final
Nicholas Bybel finishes up a serve during he and Kelly Williford's straight set win in the Mixed Doubles final