Two ankle injuries saw Barbara Luz tumble from 499 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) June 2012 rankings to 882 a week ago.
On Saturday, the first year law student from Coimbra, Portugal clinched her maiden crown with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory over India’s Ankita Raina in the women’s singles final of the Sreenidhi-ITF $10,000 tournament that concluded at the international school’s Moinabad campus.
“My father Adriano played two seasons for Benfica along with Luis Figo and gave up the sport when I was born. When I wished to take up football he dissuaded me, saying it wasn’t a game for girls,” said Barbara. Following their daughter’s progress on-line, her parents texted their congratulations minutes after her triumph, that took over three hours.
Beyond grunts, the girls had to contend with a breeze blowing across the synthetic court, almost right through the contest. So was the sun in the eyes to be factored when tossing the ball up for service, the heat softened somewhat by the school’s sylvan surroundings.
Neither player’s authority was absolute as the showdown swung both ways, Luz’s high lob assault countered by Raina’s flatly hit drives to the corners. If the Indian displayed better control in the opening set, breaking her opponent in games two and 10, the Portuguese lass refused to be blown away.
Luz hung on grimly, retrieving almost everything came her way, her superior endurance carrying the day. Raina, wracked by nausea in the second set, showed signs of fatigue — physical, not mental though, holding out into the decider, also settled via tie-breaker. K.T. Mahi, Chairman, Sreenidhi group and Ssaritha K, Executive Director, gave away the prizes.
The result: Barbara Luz (Por) bt Ankita Raina (Ind) 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3). — Special Correspondent