News from Around Banderas Bay | September 2007
|Carlos Palencia Captures Vallarta Open Championship|
Bob Cohen - PVNN
The first Annual Vallarta Open concluded Saturday with the top two seeds clashing in the finals that were played at 7:30 pm. Carlos Palencia of Monterrey, the top seed, and 2nd seeded Juan Elizondo of Leon battled in an anticipated final match.
|Carlos Palencia, winner of the 1st Annual Vallarta Open, in post match ceremony with trophy presentation.|
|Juan Elizondo is awarded the finalist trophy by City of Puerto Vallarta official and tennis player, Raul Aguirre.|
|Prior to the "A" finals, on the left Duncan Forbes with opponent Martin Casteñeda. Forbes won the "A" title match.|
|On the left, "B" division winner Jerry Lopez with finalist Cesar Huerta after a thrilling match.|
|On the left, Felipe Nocedal, winner of the "C" finals with finalist Rodrigo Martinez.|
|Just prior to the professional finals, Carlos Palencia on the left with Juan Elizondo.|
|Juan Elizondo positioning himself for a return after hitting his two handed forehand.|
|Carlos Palencia returns a backhand from the baseline.|
|Juan Elizondo on the left and Carlos Palencia on the right both have their hands raised at the conclusion of the awards ceremony.|
Palencia, who is ranked 4th in Mexico played a tactical, mistake free match to defeat Elizondo, ranked 7th in Mexico, 6-3, 6-2. Palencia picked up the first place prize of $10,600 pesos and is off to another tournament. Elizondo, who is a Vallarta favorite, picked up $5000 pesos and said he will take a short break before resuming competitive play.
Their roads to the finals were relatively easy until Palencia ran into 3rd seed Marco Sanchez of Guadalajara in the semifinals. The two engaged in a hard hitting first set that went to a tie break. Sanchez had a break point to win the first set but Palencia held serve and moved to an exciting 8-6 win in the tie break. The first set win seemed to propel the top seed to a 6-1 second set victory and a match up with Elizondo in the finals. Elizondo never lost more than two games in any match in reaching the final.
It appeared that the one tough match was needed as Elizondo never was pressured throughout the tournament and played to the finals to meet a player ready for battle on center court. The players traded breaks early in the first set and Elizondo, who hits both a two handed backhand and forehand, led early, 2-1. Palencia broke serve to take a 4-2 lead and won the opening set 6-3. Elizondo tried a number of drop shots; some successful but many landed short into the net. He also came up to volley behind strong baseline shots, but Palencia was successful in passing Elizondo consistently.
The second set began with Elizondo holding serve, but was broken on his next service game as Palencia built a 3-1 lead. Juan held serve to go to 2-3, but that was the last game the 24 year old from Leon would win, as Carlos won the last four games, taking the set 6-2. Elizondo's shots were wide of the lines more frequently as he appeared tired and was trying to hit outright winners. He did hit some, but the rallies that lasted longer had a steady Palencia moving Elizondo from side to side until the court opened for him to hit a winner.
The match on paper at 6-3, 6-2 looked like an easy victory, but Palencia had to work for the victory. His strategy of patience, good ball placement and powerful baseline shots, led to few unforced errors, which was the determining factor in the match. The two could play again and the score could easily be reversed.
The match was well attended for the Saturday night finals at the Canto Del Sol Tennis Club, as local tennis enthusiasts filled the seats. Puerto Vallarta dignitaries awarded the winning and finalist trophies to the competitors.
Three local Puerto Vallarta professionals reached the quarterfinals before losing. Danny Niño, who was in the main draw, won his first match and was then defeated. Luis Carlos Rodriguez entered the tournament with a wild card berth and also lost in the quarters. Ricardo Padilla has to qualify to just get into the main draw and made the most of it. He took his first match before also losing the quarterfinals.
There was also an amateur tournament that included open singles play in A, B, C and D divisions. It was also a first annual, aptly called the Independence Day tournament. The matches were played on the clay courts as the professionals were playing inside on the hard courts. The finals however were played on the hard courts prior to the professional final.
In the "A" division Duncan Forbes added another trophy to his collection, defeating Martin Casteñeda rather easily 6-1, 6-2. Forbes plays a more aggressive, attacking game and Casteñeda plays a defensive style, returning with consistency. The "A" division was a strange one for this tournament as Forbes made it to the finals without playing a match. He had a first round bye, then won on a walkover and in his other match his opponent, Dr. Raul Meza was in surgery and had to forfeit, putting Duncan in the finals. The division was missing some of the top local "A" players, but a trophy is still a winner.
In the "B" division, 12 year old Jerry Lopez played a thriller Saturday night in the semifinals with a large crowd cheering the youngster on. Jerry looked more like a boy in his mid-teens as he has grown in size as well as quality of play in the last six months and just moved into the "B" division after winning the "C" championship in a recent tournament. Lopez faced consistent Cesar Huerta in Sunday's final. Both players had tough matches to make it to the finals, but hadn't faced each other before in competition.
Huerta's game is not an aggressive one, but he returns almost every shot, awaiting errors by his opponents. He also has some "B" titles to prove the strategy works well for him. In a tough first set on a hot, humid court the younger Lopez held on for a 7-5 victory. Those who know Jerry, have seen some temper outbursts when he isn't playing well. As he is maturing they have lessened but he wasn't happy about the 6-0 loss to Cesar in the second set; forcing a deciding final set. Lopez jumped out to a 3-0 lead, held his serve after that and hit a crisp forehand for the winning shot, taking the set 6-3 to win in his first attempt at the "B" division. Congratulations Jerry!
In the "C" division, 12-year-old Rodrigo Martinez faced Felipe Nocedal in the finals. Rodrigo had a difficult first round match that went three sets, and then moved past his next two opponents in straight sets, including a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory. Nocedal is a more experienced player, who returns almost everything hit at him with deceiving spins. He also challenges players to hit the winners as he tends to keep the ball in play. Rodrigo, who is a hard hitter for his age and size was baffled in the first set by the off pace strategy by Nocedal and dropped the set 6-1. Rodrigo hit a number off balls out in his attempt to overpower his opponent. The second set was closer and better played by the youngster, but Nocedal won 6-4 to win the "C" title.
Another new tournament has been added to the Puerto Vallarta tennis community. Our hope is that it will grow and draw a stronger professional field. Thanks to the City of Puerto Vallarta for financially supporting the event and another good job was done by Tennis Director Martin Parra and his staff of pros.