Fourteen-year-old tennis phenom Tornado Alicia Black lived up to her name at the Sargent & Collins, LLP Women’s $10,000 Championships. She blew into town and destroyed everything in her path en route to the singles finals Sunday at Miller Tennis Center, taking out seven competitors —including tournament top seed Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman. Black demonstrated the power she’s named after with a barrage of devastating cross-court winners, as well as the rage, with a few outbursts directed at herself, at her racket and at officials’ calls. But once opponent Jamie Loeb weathered the worst of the storm, it subsided quickly and didn’t threaten again. Loeb, a 17-year-old from Ossining (Westchester County), won the singles championship in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-2, and later won the doubles event with partner Nika Kukharchuk, 25, of Russia, 1-6, 6-3 (10-8). “I always pump myself up and I never like to show negative emotions,” Loeb said, contrasting her composure with Black’s. “I feel like that’s one of the stronger points in my game: I stay positive, stay confident and let the other person get frustrated. “She was getting frustrated so I took advantage of that. . . . I like to feed off people’s emotions, so if she’s getting frustrated, I see that and I start pumping myself up and I’m more determined to win the point. Hopefully she’ll crack, which she did.” Black dropped the first three games in the first set before storming back to win six of the next eight, giving herself a chance to win the set on her serve. But Loeb held her off to force a tiebreaker, which she won by coming from behind again to finish a set that lasted more than an hour. Black served first in the second set and went up 2-1, but was growing visibly frustrated with miss-hit shots and Loeb’s resiliency as well as the chair umpire, who came down several times to point out where the ball landed after Black inquired. Loeb was up 30-0 in the fourth game when Black forced her into a high return. Black was set up for a smash but got overzealous and hit the overhead into the net. Loeb held serve to even the set at 2-2 and followed by quickly winning the next four games to win her first professional singles title. She turned it on full-force when she saw Black’s focus dwindling. “She just hit points,” Black said. “She was a better player, today. She pulled it off.” After a half-hour cool down period, Loeb teamed with Kukharchuk to win her first doubles championship. They were beaten swiftly in the first set by the second-seeded Al Nabhani and Jacqueline Cako of Brier, Wash., winning only one game. “We were a little shocked ,” said Kukharchuk, who used every advantage possible from her left-handed swing. “They were hitting everything pretty big. We didn’t adjust right away but then we started being more aggressive in the second set and things went our way.” Points were harder to win in the second set. There were longer rallies but most points ended the same way — with Loeb placing a shot just inside of the line that drew applause from the crowd of about 100 — there was no official attendance announced. Cako got treatment for a back injury before the tiebreaker and looked to be in pain after the match. She and Al Nabhani took the lead briefly in the tiebreaker but couldn’t hold off Loeb and Kukharchuk, who lost in the quarterfinals of last year’s tournament at Miller Tennis Center. Kukharchuk said Buffalo was a “special city” to her since her sister lived here for two years, and she frequently came up from Brewster, where she works as a pro, to visit. Kukharchuk stayed in her sister’s apartment during the tournament. ... Black, who was too shy to talk to the crowd over the loud speaker immediately after the match, said later that Tornado is actually her middle name, though she put it first on her official paperwork with the USTA. She yells at herself on the court by her first name — “Come on, Alicia!” Black has a younger sister whose first name is Hurricane, who is also a tennis player. email:?email@example.com
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Miller Tennis Loeb a double winner as Tornado fizzles out
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