Marina Stakusic holds Tevlin Challenger trophy

Photo : Neena Channan

In a thrilling conclusion to the Tevlin Challenger, Marina Stakusic has been crowned champion.  

The young Canadian bested Croatian Jana Fett in three sets 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to cap off a strong run that saw her score numerous comeback victories on her way to her third title of 2023.  

The match began with Stakusic dropping the first set, something she’d done against Eden Silva in round two and again against Lulu Sun in the quarter-finals. Just like those two matches, however, she transformed an initial loss into a thrilling victory.  

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The first set of the final was defined by breaks of serve. Both Stakusic and Fett struggled to use their respective serves to get ahead as the former didn’t hold until the seventh game. At that point, Stakusic was only down 4-3, but she stumbled again in her next service game to drop the set.  

Despite having some more trouble with her service games in the second set, Stakusic edged it out thanks to Fett’s equally frustrating serve. The Canadian came close to dropping the second set after letting a double-break lead slip away. But after Fett tied it 5-5, the Croatian was unable to take the lead, allowing Stakusic to break her next serve and could not get that one back.  

Propelled by the momentum of the second set, Stakusic came out thunderously in the third, quickly jumping to a 4-1 lead. The remaining four games were all breaks of serves but Stakusic’s resilience on return in the final led her to walk away with a victory.  

With another victory in the books, Stakusic is closing out the year in strong form. In September, she won both the W60 in Berkeley and the W25 in Valladolid, Spain. 

Next for Stakusic is the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, which are set to begin on Nov. 7. Joining her are teammates Gabriela Dabrowski, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Rebecca Marino, and Katherine Sebov, who most recently won the Saguenay National Bank Challenger earlier in October.