Krueger and Kiick Claim International Spring Championships in Carson
by Colette Lewis
, 14 April 2012
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Top seed Mitchell Krueger and seventh seed Allie Kiick punctuated an impressive week of tennis with superb performances in the finals at the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif. last week. Krueger downed 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov 6-3, 6-4, while Kiick defeated longtime rival Chalena Scholl 6-0, 6-2 in the Easter morning championship matches at the Home Depot Center.
Warm and calm conditions throughout the week, unusual for the area in the spring, gave Krueger and Kiick the opportunity to shine, and both took full advantage.
Krueger dropped only one set during the week, to No. 3 seed Noah Rubin in the semifinals, with Kiick also losing only one set, to top seed and reigning Australian Open Girls champion Taylor Townsend in a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 semifinal victory.
Krueger's match with the 16-year-old Rubin was ideal preparation for his encounter with Kozlov in the final, with the 18-year-old from Aledo, Texas facing the pressure of a much younger opponent with nothing to lose.
Krueger again survived, defeating the 12th-seeded Kozlov in just under two hours, but he was effusive in his praise of the young Floridian, who has the court sense and shot selection of a much more experienced player.
"The way he plays is really unique, really different," said Krueger, who had never played Kozlov before, and had only hit with him once previously. "I think he makes you play a lot slower than you would want to. He gets you into the trap of doing what he wants you to do, and if you bite, you're right where he wants you."
Krueger found out quickly the challenges Kozlov would pose when he was forced to save four break points in the first game.
Kozlov showed no sign of nerves - he said after the match that he "just came out and played my game, and if I lost, I lost" - enabling him to hit his usual array of lobs, touch volleys, slices and angles. He had plenty of chances to break Krueger, but didn't capitalize, with the only break of the first set coming with Kozlov serving at 3-4.
"I got lucky to win the first set, I think," Krueger said. "He was playing better than me, and I just played one good return game and that's all it took. The second set he was up pretty much the whole set."