Unseeded Nik Scholtz and Ilze Hattingh of South Africa won the Sun City Futures 2 men’s and women’s singles titles on Saturday. Scholtz beat his close friend and doubles partner, Tucker Vorster the second seed 6-4 6-3 in the men’s final. It is the second Futures title for Scholtz who has just ended his US College Scholarship at the University of Mississippi.
Scholtz was cheered to victory from the sidelines by his parents Calla and Lizahn who made a special trip from Greytown in the Western Cape to watch their son in the final. Calla Scholtz is the former Western Province and Springbok rugby full back. Scholtz jetted into South Africa late last week from the USA.
“Flying in from America was tough as I had to adapt to the high altitude and winter conditions. But as the tournament got longer I played better” said Scholtz. The first break of serve came in the fifth game of the opening set and Scholtz held the lead to take the first set 6-3. In the second set Scholtz broke Vorster in the first game.
At 3-5 down, Vorster was serving to stay in the match but once again Scholtz was solid on the return and broke Vorster to clinch the set 6-3, match and championship. “It was one of those days everything I tried worked for me” said Scholtz following victory. “I was anticipating Tucker’s serves well. I guessed and played the big points well too, that made the difference I think.”
Scholtz said he played the best match of the week, “I returned real solid in fact I played a solid match, few unforced errors, overall I was on song it was my best match all week.” In the women’s singles it took South African junior Ilze Hattingh 1 hour 20 minutes to capture her first ever Futures title. The 18-year old Pretoria-based Hattingh upset second seeded Clothilde De Bernardi of France 6-1, 6-3 in the final Saturday.
Admittedly De Bernardi carried a hip strain injury going into the final but all credit to Hattingh for keeping her composure and focus and dominating the final. “I was happy with my game but felt I held back a bit maybe because of nerves. It was my first final since the Junior nationals last year so I was kind of tentative out there. I was keeping pressure on Clothilde because I know she has a good forehand and I didn’t want her to get into any rhythm with her forehand. But I think I played a great game not only today in the final but all week. I am really chuffed with the win” said Hattingh.
A visibly disappointed De Bernardi said she was “frustrated” and “hurting badly” after the final. “My right hip has been giving me so much trouble. I am playing my first tournaments in four months at Sun City after sustaining the injury and it’s not better. I was hurting badly out there and just could not play the game I normally play and move like I normally do around the court,” said the Frenchwoman. Hattingh broke early in the opening set and dropped only one game winning the set 6-1.
In the second set, De Bernardi broke in the first game to lead 1-0. Hattingh immediately broke back and in the fourth game Hattingh broke serve to lead 3-1. Hattingh then held to lead 4-1 but the fight wasn’t over from De Bernardi who won two games on the trot, saved a break point, to trail Hattingh 3-4.
Hattingh then broke serve to lead 5-3 and served out the ninth game to give her the set and match. What a week it’s been for Hattingh. She won the title without dropping a set all week and shocked top seed Chanel Simmonds in the quarter-finals. Then she beat third seeded Madrie Le Roux her doubles partner in the semi-finals on Friday.
“Yes it’s been a real good week. I have played well, had some luck but these are the weeks you work so hard for. I’m glad I am over my injury and back in form” said Hattingh. Scholtz won the doubles title when he teamed up with Vorster (seeded three) to beat fourth seeds Mark Fynn of Zimbabwe and Damon Gooch of South Africa 6-3, 6-4 in the final. The women’s doubles title was won by second seeds Agata Baranska from Poland and Stephanie Kent of USA who were given a walkover after Le Roux, Hattingh’s partner, fell ill and the pair were forced to withdraw from the final.
The final Futures 3 tournament will start on Monday 9 June with the finals scheduled for Friday 13 June.
Photo credit: BLD Communications