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Kateryna cruises to her first ITF title

PRIZED POSSESSION: Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, who won her maiden ITF women's singles title in Pune on Saturday, is all smiles as she poses for lensmen. Kateryna had earlier won the doubles on Friday.

PRIZED POSSESSION: Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, who won her maiden ITF women's singles title in Pune on Saturday, is all smiles as she poses for lensmen. Kateryna had earlier won the doubles on Friday.  

PUNE DEC. 7. Kateryna Bondarenko took full advantage of rival Ipek Senoglu in `injury' mode, cruising to the first International Tennis Federation $10,000 title of her career on Saturday. The 16-year-old Ukranian, now heading for the Australian Open Juniors (she has a direct entry in the singles main draw) won 6-1, 6-1 against the older and experienced fifth seed from Turkey in NECC ITF Women's Circuit Pune leg singles final.

The much-awaited title clash would not have happened had Senoglu opted to rest her troubled right shoulder, but chose to step on court to fulfil commitments as a tennis pro.

Kateryna, flaunting a striking yellow attire, did not get much opportunities to show off the colour in her game, Senoglu calling for medical attention after losing the first set 1-6. The intense Ukranian did not relax her vigil till the end and kept hammering way from the baseline, the spring in her steps improving with every break, four in all.

She hit five aces, converted 59 per cent points off first serve and won five breakpoints. A momentary hiccup in the sixth game on serve, due to two double-faults in succession, was the only anxious moment as the champion regained focus, stared hard into her racquet strings, and bounced her way to victory.

Senoglu went through the motions, waiting for her young opponent to self-destruct, but realised the battle was up when Kateryna began attacking first serves. "The shoulder has been bothering me for some time. I stayed awake last night due to the pain. I just played because it was the final and because of the crowds and television," said the Turk, disappointed but not disheartened.

She pocketed $1,000 and gained four WTA points, as against $1,600 dollars and five for the young Ukranian, a top-40 in world juniors aiming to match sister Alona's achievements. The senior Bondarenko is in the world's top 200.

The collective booty from the Pune leg, $1,750 (she also won the women's doubles), is a handy Christmas present to fuel the career ambitions of the youngest Bondarenko, whose previous best was a final place in a $10,000 ITF event at Poland.

Now the bar has been raised, the young Ukranian's smile on the last day of her short India stay fitting for a bright day at the Deecan Gymkhana courts. The Pune leg was sponsored by National Egg Co-ordination Committee and trophies were given away by Mrs. Anuradha Desai of Venkateshwara Hatcheries.

The results: singles final: Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine) bt 5-Ipek Senoglu (Turkey) 6-1, 6-1.

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