Action Wraps Up on Hot Pittsburgh Clay Courts

When a week of action-packed tennis came to a close on Sunday afternoon at the Mount Lebanon Tennis Facility, those in attendance were certain of one thing: it was about time for some air conditioning.

In relentless temperatures that at times reached triple-digits, two tournaments took place on the clay courts in south-Pittsburgh last week, most notably the 2012 PNC Men’s Futures of Pittsburgh, a $10,000 tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit. Men’s and women’s competition at the ITA Collegiate Clay Courts/West Penn Amateur Championship also took place during the week, as painfully hot days became a common sight for the mix of local and national players.

In the end, it was No. 1 seed Alex Bogdanovic who took the Men’s Futures singles title after stringing together an impressive 6-2, 6-4 win over hard-hitting Australian Matheson Klein on Sunday afternoon.

Great Britain’s Bogdanovic, 28, held serve the entire match and didn’t drop a set throughout the tournament. The strong week of play is good news for Bogdanovic, who at one point played in eight-straight Wimbledons but never made it past the first round.

After struggling with injuries, the Brit is now trying to regain his previous form and take one more shot at cracking the world’s top-100. The stage is set for him, as just last year, the Men’s Futures produced champion Brian Baker, a former highly-ranked junior who used the win to catapult him back into the spotlight as one of the top players in the United States. Baker went on to reach the round of 16 last week in Wimbledon and is now No. 76 in the latest ATP rankings.

In doubles competition at the Futures, soon-to-be Duke teammates Michael Redlicki and Jason Tahir took the title by defeating the tournament’s No. 2-seeded team of Ruben Gonzales and Joel Kielbowicz, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Redlicki will be a freshman in the fall, while Tahir is currently a rising sophomore.

Perhaps a storyline outside of the Futures event, however, was the most gripping of the week. Anna Smith, a 13-year-old middle-school student from Venetia, Pa., dominated each court she took during the National Collegiate Clay Court Championships/West Penn Amateur, eventually defeating three-time WPIAL champion and incoming Duquesne University freshman Sarah Shashura in the women’s final.

Smith, the younger sister of standout junior Stephanie Smith, didn’t lose a game in the final match and became the youngest ever to win the event.

On the men’s side, Cornell sophomore Alex Sidney took the title.

Photos from the event can be found here.

Media coverage of the event can also be found below.

“Peters Teen Youngest Champ” by Phil Axelrod- Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“Plum Native Bjorn to Play Tennis” by Kevin Gorman- Tribune Review Sports

Australian Klein Enjoying Life on the Road by Pat Mitsch- Tribune Review
Last Year’s Winner Provides Major Inspiration at Men’s Futures- by Jason Mackey- Tribune Review
Bogdanovich Wins Futures Tour Event by Jason Mackey- Tribune Review
Brit Tries to Regain His Form by Phil Axelrod- Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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