Above photo: Canadian Peter Polansky. Photo courtesy of Karl Mendoza at www.kamera8studios.ca.
News from the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, July 8-16 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
Mayo Hibi of Japan will play American Caroline Dolehide for the women’s singles title at 11 am, with the men’s singles final to follow (not before 1 pm) as Peter Polansky of Canada takes on Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic.
Canadian Polansky Reaches Final
Peter Polansky of Canada will play for the men’s singles title after a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win Saturday over Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Polansky, the No. 2 seed at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, has captured two career Challenger singles titles: he won the Gatineau National Bank Challenger in 2016 and the Tiburon Challenger in California in 2013.
Polansky’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be No. 1 seed Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia. Kavcic beat Israel’s Edan Leshem 7-6, 6-3 Saturday.
“I played my best tennis here and it was really hard,” Kavcic said after his semifinal win. “I was lucky to play a perfect tiebreak – I didn’t make any mistakes and I served well like I’ve done all week here.”
Kavcic also reached the men’s singles final of the 2016 Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, losing in three sets to Go Soeda of Japan.
“I feel good here,” said Kavcic. “I felt good here last year. I feel good now. Last year I came close to winning – I had a set and break (lead). I hope this year I can go one step further.”
Hibi Beats No. 1 Seed Gibbs
Japan’s Mayo Hibi edged No. 1 seed Nicole Gibbs of the United States 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 Saturday to reach the women’s singles final at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger. Hibi won the last six games of the match after trailing 3-0 in the third set.
“Even though I was down 0-3 I had some game points in each game,” said Hibi. “I thought it could be 3-0 my way so I shouldn’t be too disappointed. It was also only a break down even though it seemed like a lot of games.”
Hibi, ranked No. 250 in the world, reached a career high ranking of No. 166 in June of 2016. The 21-year-old has won two singles titles this year, claiming top honours at a $15,000 ITF women’s circuit event in France (January 17-21) and at a $25,000 ITF women’s circuit event in Japan (March 28-April 2).
Hibi was born in Japan but has been living in California since the age of two. She is one of nine players (five men, four women) from Japan who competed in main draw singles at this year’s Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.
“When I got to the club on the first day I was like, ‘wow, there are so many Japanese players playing,'” Hibi said. “I only knew there was a women’s tournament. I didn’t know there was a men’s.”
Hibi will play American Caroline Dolehide in Sunday’s women’s singles final. Dolehide won their only previous meeting at an ITF tournament in February in Arizona.
“I know she’s playing really well,” Hibi said of Dolehide. “She’s a young, rising American – big serve, big forehand.”
Dolehide advanced to the final with 6-2, 6-3 win over China’s Shilin Xu. The 18-year-old has spent plenty of time on court at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger. After winning her quarterfinal singles match Friday (which lasted three hours, 45 minutes), she won her doubles semifinal 6-4, 1-6, 10-7 partnering with Kimberly Birrell of Australia. Then after beating Xu on Saturday she played for the women’s doubles championship.
“I’ve spent a lot of days training like that so I’m just glad I was ready for this,” Dolehide said after her semifinal singles win.
In the doubles final, Dolehide/Birrell lost 6-4, 7-6 to the team of Hiroko Kuwata (Japan)/Valeria Savinykh (Russia).
“I love doubles,” said Dolehide. “I try to play it as much as possible. I work with (coach) Stephen Huss who was a doubles specialist.”