The future of Lima women’s tennis is now.
Marina Fuduric, the 11-year-old wunderkind, won the Lima Area Tennis Association women’s singles title by defeating Ada’s Mackenzie Wills, 6-2, 6-1, in the finals at the University of Northwestern Ohio Tennis Courts Sunday.
“This means a lot to me and I am really happy,” said Fuduric who was the runner-up two years ago as a nine-year-old. “I have been working hard in practice and all the other competitors in this tournament were great. I think that I was just able to play my best in this tournament.”
Fuduric overpowered Wills, the Ohio Northern University freshman, with some hard hit ground strokes to force Wills into a series of unforced errors throughout the match. In the first set, Fuduric jumped out to a 3-0 advantage, however, Wills stormed back to win the next two games to cut the lead to 3-2. But Fuduric reeled off the next four games to collect the first set victory.
In the second set, Fuduric picked up where she left off in the first set to go up 4-0. Wills rallied to win the next game, but Fuduric finished off Wills by taking the next tw games to win the second set and the match.
Wills, who finished second in the tournament for the second straight year, complimented Fuduric and said she is as good as anyone she faced her first year at ONU.
“She could be a No. 1 on a lot of teams in college,” Wills said. “She is a great player.”
While Fuduric continues on her promising future, Jeff Brown continued his domination on the men’s side after recording his third-straight LATA men’s single title but vanquishing Jason Barton 6-2, 6-0.
“It was fun,” Brown said. “I treat this as my warm-up for other tournaments in the summer.”
The match was tight early on as Brown held a slim 3-2 lead as Barton tested the veteran Brown. However, Brown seized control of the match by notching the next three games to score the 6-2 first set victory.
Barton, who was battling arm troubles, could not stop Brown’s momentum in the second set and the Westwood Fitness and Tennis instructor cruised to a 6-0 lead to record the three-peat.
“He (Barton) came out strong in the beginning,” Brown said. “I know he had arm problems so he started to wear down a little but he decided to go out there and play.”
Brown added he and Barton, a junior at LeMoyne College, go back to 2012 when Barton played at Shawnee and the two have remained close. At LaMoyne, Barton was an all-Northeast 10 conference selection. He went 8-0 in conference action as part of a 13-8 year. His 13 victories are tied for the third-most by a Dolphin over the last 12 years and are tied (with a classmate) for the most since the 2009-10 season. At fifth singles, he has registered a 7-5 record overall, including a mark of 6-0 in conference play.
“He was one of the first students I worked with in the Lima area,” Brown said. “He is a good kid and great competitor. He is awesome and has a bright future ahead of him.”
Brown said that his game is not where it should be and with the LATA doubles matches approaches he will be hitting the courts for additional practice to get into a better rhythm.
In the most most compelling match of the day, Mary Lou Roush repeated as the 30-plus women’s singles champion after defeating rival Barbie Prince, 6-3, 6-3.
The ageless wonder, Roush, had her hand’s full with Prince. In the first set, the two battled to a 3-3 but Roush reeled off the next three games to secure the 6-3 first-set win. The second set mirrored the first as the two found themselves tied 3-3. But once again Roush rallied to win the next three games to capture the 6-3 second-set victory.
With the win, Roush went 5-0 in the round robin bracket to secure first place.
“Barbie is the best because she is the energizer bunny like me,” Roush said. “What was nice is that we had good match points every time. There was never a 40-love game and I don’t think there was anything but a deuce add so that means it was anybodies game.”
Roush said winning is great but it is more about the spirit of the competition.
“This whole group of seniors is upbeat,” said Roush who turns 70-years-old next year. “The people that run it are run it are very inspiring so that is why I play for the inspiration. Everybody wins in a way. I hope everybody stays because that is how we get depth.
Action resumes Friday when the LATA doubles tournament begins.