After a brief three-year hiatus, the NYJTL Bronx Open returned to New York this summer as The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning hosted this ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour event in August.
The event brought professional tennis back to the Bronx and an exciting week of action here in New York as we prepare for the U.S. Open. In the tournament’s singles final, Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova would square off against Mirjam Bjorklund.
Rakhimova would prove to be too much for Bjorklund as she captured the title with a 6-2, 6-3 victory, her sixth career ITF singles title.
“My mental state is really nice right now,” Rakhimova said afterwards. “I’m feeling confident on the court. I’m just trying to do my best in each moment and just enjoy the game.”
That approach would turn out to be a good one for Rakhimova. The 20-year-old secured the match’s first break to establish a 3-1 advantage in the opening set. Another break for a 5-1 lead gave Rakhimova a 5-1 lead, and even after Bjorklund was able to break back, Rakhimova turned up her return game to secure one more break and win the first set 6-2.
Bjorklund attempted to make headway in the match as she broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set. But both players continued to struggle on serve and continued to trade breaks of serves including on four consecutive service games to bring the set on serve. Rakhimova was able to hold serve for a 4-3 lead before Bjorklund called for the trainer to deal with a back injury.
Sensing an opportunity to seize the match right there, Rakhimova broke Bjorklund’s serve in the ensuing game following the injury timeout, and proceeded to calmly serve out the set and the match.
Rakhimova hopes this win is a sign of things to come for her as she looks ahead to the U.S. Open.
“Of course the main goal for me is the Grand Slam,” she said. “But it’s nice to have this tournament for the preparation and for my confidence.”
In the doubles final, the Russian-Swiss pairing of Anna Blinkova & Simona Waltert beat the South Korean-Japanese duo of Han Na-Lae & Hiroko Kuwata 6-3, 6-3, to claim the title, their first title as a doubles team.
Throughout the week, the level of competition at The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning was extremely high.
"The level of tennis was extraordinary. It was more than we expected to be honest,” said Joe Ceriello, Chief Marketing & Development Officer for NYJTL, and the 2022 NYJTL Bronx Open Tournament Director. “I don't think you'd find another 60K challenger on the year that's quite this strong. It was closer to a 125 or even a 250."
The event was more than just the great tennis on the court, but also a celebration of the sport itself and for the work that NYJTL and the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning does in the community. Throughout the week, there were free clinics for youth players, with several hundreds of families attending and participating.
In addition, tickets to the matches were completely free to the public, a great way to showcase professional tennis right here in New York, and players in the NYJTL programming also served as the tournament’s ballkids.
“We brought out hundreds of kids during the week, and then they get to come out here and see these incredible athletes,” Ceriello added. “That’s really why we do it. We do this event for the community. We want to introduce people to this great sport.”