Sasha Vagramov and Christian Lakoseljac both captured their first-ever national titles on Friday as they won the girls’ and boys’ finals at the U18 Indoor Rogers Junior National Championships at Mayfair Parkway in Markham, Ont.
At the age of just 14 years old, British Columbia’s Vagramov ousted defending champion and top seed Vanessa Wong of Ontario 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(5). It was almost three matches in one, as Wong cruised in the first set, Vagramov easily took the second, and the third could have gone either way.
Wong reeled off the first five games of the match before Vagramov started to find her way. The eventual champion then broke to open the second set and was the more consistent, stronger player en route to forcing a decider. In the third set, Vagramov took a few one-break leads but Wong, a seven-time national champion between all four age categories, would not go away and came back each time. It ultimately finished in a tiebreaker.
“In the first set I was extremely nervous because it was my first 18s nationals and she was the defending champion,” Vagramov said. “I just went through that first set and coming into the second I just wanted to play my game. I knew she would probably be more nervous than me in the long run so I just wanted to start playing my game and forget about all the distractions.”
Last summer, Vagramov finished third at the U14 outdoor championships – and just a few months later, she is the under-18 indoor champion.
“It feels pretty good, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said the lefty, who also received the tournament’s sportsmanship award. “I’m really happy because I’ve worked really hard over the past months with all my coaches, and my parents have really supported me, so I’m glad that it’s all paying off.”
Vagramov also was a doubles runner-up, as she and partner Ashleigh Jacobs lost to Isabelle Boulais and Kirsten Prelle 6-4, 6-4 in Thursday’s final.
In the boys’ championship match, 17-year-old Lakoseljac of Ontario was steady on serve as he wasn’t broken once in a 6-4, 6-4 triumph against Quebec’s Gabriel Champoux, who had earlier upset No. 1 seed Victor Krustev in the quarter-finals.
In the first set, it was all even until 4-4 when the No. 5 seed took the first break and held serve for the one-set advantage. He broke again immediately to open the second set and held on to that lead through the set. Serving for the match at 5-4, he saved two break points to clinch the win.
“I was extremely nervous but I went to the towel and tried to refocus as best I can and take deep breaths,” he said of the last game. “I wanted to make him play, I thought that he was probably looser than me and I had to make him play. I ended up pulling through with a couple big serves. And the last rally was the tightest rally of my life but I managed to get through it!”
This is the first singles national title for the 17-year-old, who is the No. 10-ranked U18 player in Canada at the moment. His maiden Canadian crown came just one day earlier as he teamed with Krustev to capture the doubles title 7-6(3), 6-4 over Max Korkh and Luka Vukovic.
“It’s awesome, there’s a lot of history behind the tournament and a lot of people who have won it before,” he said. “And this is my last nationals because I’m leaving for school to Penn State in August so it’s an unbelievable feeling to play my last nationals and end up winning both singles and doubles. It’s incredible.”
Residents of York Region in Ontario will be able to watch Vagramov and Lakoseljac take their titles as Rogers TV was on hand for the finals. The matches will be aired on Saturday April 9 starting at 5 p.m. ET on Rogers TV in York Region, channels 10 or 63.
For the complete draws and final results from the week’s action at the U18 Indoor Rogers Junior National Championships, please visit tc.tournamentsoftware.com.
Photos by Armando Villavona