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Major, Lavender: Singles Champs at US Open National Playoffs Southern

June 24, 2016 09:57 AM

Click here to tournament results.

By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Singles champ Philip Major

hundal_goodwin_usonp_rc_062416Vikram Hundal, left, and Andrew Goodwin win men's doubles.

greene_speaks_usonp_062416Women's doubles victors Aryn Greene, top, with Ansley Speaks.

Alexandra Anghelescu and Danie van den Heever win mixed doubles.

Philip Major, of Charlotte, N.C. and the Bahamas, spoilt Trey Yates shot at a home court victory with a 6-4, 6-2 men’s singles final victory in the US Open National Playoffs Southern Sectional Qualifying Tournament.

Major trains with coach Jim Lavender, father and coach of his daughter, Elyse, who won the women’s singles Friday.The 20-year-old Major played for the Bahamas in last year’s Pan Am Games and has been playing ITF tournaments, mostly overseas. 

Yates, of Dunwoody, Ga., coaches at the Life Time Fitness at Peachtree Corners facility where the tournament was played. He is a rising junior at the University of Kentucky, where he went 6-5 in SEC singles matches. 

Major kept the pressure on Yates by breaking serve in the first game of each set. Yates lost control of his ground strokes, along with his focus when he asks his fans to be quiet. The last game included three saved match points and eight deuces before Major shouted in victory.

Asked how he guided two of his charges to singles victories here, Lavender said, “I’m proud for my players. We have them put in the physical and mental work and now it’s paying off.” Lavender has a private coaching business which trains eight players out of Charlotte and south Florida.

Elyse Lavender, a 17-year-old from Wilson, N.C., (above) dominated Amanda Rebol, of Duluth, Ga., to win the women’s singles final at the US Open National Playoffs Southern Sectional Qualifying Tournament.

Lavender prevailed 6-0, 6-2 in the final and lost only four games in her four tournament matches played at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross. She took advantage of 10 double faults by Rebol in only seven service games, including the last three points.

Jumping out to an early break, Lavender stormed through the first set with crisp, accurate groundstrokes. Rebol was able to get two games to deuce but was broken each time.

The second set was more competitive as Rebol held in the second game by winning the sixth deuce. But, at 2-2, Lavender found her return game, going on a tear and taking the final four games.

 “I was trying to find my game and use my forehand,” Lavender said. “I tried to keep my nerves under control and I’m proud of how I played.”

Asked how she would prepare for the US Open National Playoffs just before America’s Grand Slam, she said, “Keep training the way I am and play tournaments throughout the summer.”

Lavender has committed to play at LSU starting in the fall of 2017. Earlier this month, she reached the final of USTA Mid-Atlantic’s $17K 56th Annual CVITT Presented by API Funds tournament. This year she has a 16-11 record in ITF matches played in Turkey and Greece.

Rebol, a rising sophomore at North Carolina State, couldn’t capitalize on playing on her home court. She was a long-time Life Time academy player before beginning her college career. Rebol, of Cumming, collected seven ACC singles wins, playing mostly at line four and five.

The duo of former University of Alabama player Andrew Goodwin and former first-team All-Conference USA doubles player for the Charlotte 49ers Vikram Hundal defeated the brother combo of Casey and Michael Kay 6-1, 6-3.

Goodwin and Hundal, both of Alpharetta, Ga., were playing only their second tournament together. Using strong serves and deft hands at the net, they kept control of the match from the first game.

The Kays couldn’t exploit their years of experience playing doubles together. Casey, who just graduated from Georgia Tech, and Michael, a rising junior there, were ranked No. 42 in the nation in collegiate doubles this year.

Furman tennis players Aryn Greene and Ansley Speaks derailed Julia Dimitrov, 36, of Atlanta, and Alexandra Lussi, 28, of Monroe, Ga., to win women’s doubles 6-4, 6-4.

Speaks, of Simpsonville, S.C., teamed up with Greene, who just transferred to Furman. Alpharetta, Ga.’s Greene finished her freshman campaign at the University of Alabama with an overall record of 5-5 in singles and 10-4 in doubles.

“It was great fun playing with Ansley for the first time,” Greene said. “We said we’d go for our shots and we did.” Speaks added, “I’m really excited that I can share my senior year with her.”


The local duo of Alexandra Anghelescu, of Johns Creek, Ga. and Danie van den Heever, Cumming, Ga., easily dispatched Danya Ivanova/Michal Motyka, of Palm Beach, Fla., in the mixed doubles final.

As the 6-0, 6-2 match was drawing to a close, Life Time coach Anghelescu did a little dance on court, even though she missed her shot. With a small crowd of young junior girls who take lessons from the former Georgia Tech star in attendance, Anghelescu was taking joy in their success.

Van den Heever advanced to the national playoffs in 2013 and was a mixed doubles finalist last year.