PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – The women’s singles final at the 2016 Riviera/ITA Women’s Tennis Championship pitted two of the sport’s rising stars against one another for the opportunity to claim an ITA National Championship.
Ohio State sophomore and No. 3 Francesca Di Lorenzo, who already owns one ITA national title, having won the 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Singles Championship, took on UCLA freshman Ena Shibahara, who won 10 matches between the pre-qualifying, qualifying and main draws to make the final.
Both players gave the standing-room only crowd at the Riviera Tennis Club on Sunday, October 9, 2016, plenty to cheer about, but in the end it was Di Lorenzo that emerged victorious, taking a 6-4, 6-3 decision over Shibahara. The victory makes Di Lorenzo the first player from Ohio State to win the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Singles Championship.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Di Lorenzo. “Every tournament, I try to go out and play the best I can and compete the best I can and see where it goes from there. This wasn’t expected, and I’m really happy to be in the position I’m standing in right now.”
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, with Shibahara taking an early 3-2 lead, only for Di Lorenzo to battle back and win four of the last six games to take the set 6-4. The second set saw the two players exchange the first four games, before Di Lorenzo surged ahead 4-2. Shibahara answered back to draw within 4-3, but Di Lorenzo held serve for 5-3 and then broke Shibahara to clinch the set and match, 6-3.
“I just tried to keep things physical,” said Di Lorenzo. “I knew she had played 10 previous matches coming into today, so thought she may be a little tired, so wanted to keep (the match) as physical as possible and try to get some depth, because she likes to stay on the baseline and take the ball early. I knew I had stay offensive in this match and I think I did that pretty well and I played my game.”
The last match of the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships was the women’s doubles final, and it did not disappoint.
North Carolina’s Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney battled Pepperdine’s fifth-seeded team of Luisa Stefani and Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai through three intense sets, with the newly-formed Tar Heel duo claiming the national title via a 6-1, 2-6, 1-0 (9) score.
“I haven’t processed it all yet,” said Aney. “Being out here and representing North Carolina and to bring the championship home is an unreal feeling.”
Carter needed a new doubles partner this season following the graduation of Whitney Kay. The duo formed one of the nation’s top doubles teams, with the duo claiming the 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Doubles Championship.
It looks like the new pairing of Aney and Carter is working out just nicely, although the post-match celebration still needs some ironing out, as it appeared a chest bump was forthcoming, before settling on a hug.
“We didn’t plan anything out, I was just going for the super-enthusiastic hug,” said Carter.
Carter, a senior, was happy to close out her time at Riviera with a national title.
“I’ve had an amazing four years at Riviera for the All-Americans and this is a great cap to that,” said Carter. “All credit to Jessie; I’ll re-live that inside-out backhand at 9-9 for the rest of my life.”
Kentucky’s No. 1-ranked duo of Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi of Kentucky took on Oklahoma State’s Katarnia Adamovic and Vladica Babic in the consolation doubles final, and the Wildcats prevailed by an 8-3 margin. With the victory, Adachi and Sutjiadi clinched a spot in the National Indoors field.
The consolation singles final featured two players ranked in the Top 5, with No. 2 Luisa Stefani of Pepperdine facing No. 5 Sinead Lohan of Miami. Lohan, a junior from Waterford, Ireland, bested Stefani in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.
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