At the Apis Canberra International on Saturday we saw the finalists decided for the women’s ITF Futures tournament held at the Canberra Tennis Centre.
As an AIS athlete, Olivia Rogowska had spent three years living in Canberra, so she was used to local conditions. In the match against Israel’s Julia Glushko you would have been forgiven thinking a club player was filling in. Rogowska looked outclassed by the powerful hitting Glushko.
Glushko looked to be cruising at 6-1, 3-0 before the match dramatically turned. Rogowska found her rhythm and Glushko started making more errors as Rogowska slowed things down to get Glushko out of her comfort zone. Then Rogowska won game after game to take the match 1-6, 3-6, 6-0. That set her up to take on the winner of the match between Destanee Aiava and Canberra local Alison Bai.
“Everything happened so fast [today], credit to Julia, she came out really pumped up in the first set and played some really good tennis,” Rogowska said.
“I’m proud of myself how I just hung in there. I wanted to snap, I can get quite emotional but I stayed cool and worked a couple of things out.
“I slowed things down and made her play a couple of extra balls, in a matter of minutes I was back at 3-3 and I thought I’m back in this. By the end of it, I was playing some good tennis.”
Aiava ranked 169 faced Bai, ranked 604 on centre court with a large crowd supporting the hometown girl. Bai had earlier eliminated the top-seeded Arina Rodionova in the second round, taking the match in three sets 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4. In the quarterfinals, she eliminated the qualifier Kaylah Mcphee, also in three sets.
Aiava went into the semifinal match after only dropping one set to qualifier Masa Jovanovic in the opening round. In round two and in the quarterfinal Aiava had comfortable wins.
In the semifinal, Aiava was always looking more comfortable and with her power game finally wore down Bai. The second set was tight with the score level at 5-5 before Aiva got a crucial break to see her serve for a spot in the final against Rogowska. Bai was not giving in and held a break back point before Aiava closed out the match with a 6-3, 7-5 scoreline.
“I started off slowly,” Bai said. “I knew she was a good ball-striker but I hadn’t played her or hit with her before so I took a while to figure her out.
“In the end she was too solid off both sides and didn’t give me many opportunities. It was a good quality match.”