News from the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, July 7-15 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.

Above photo: Rebecca Marino. Photo by David Mahussier of 1812 Photography.

Marino Captures Women’s Title

Rebecca Marino of Vancouver became the first Canadian singles champion of the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger with a 7-6(3), 7-6(4) win Sunday over Israel’s Julia Glushko.

“It’s super special,” said Marino. “To finally have a Canadian to go up on the photos (banners of past champions) will be really nice. For me, to win a title in Canada is always super special.”

Glushko, the No. 2 seed, hadn’t dropped a set going into the final. But it was Marino who won the opening set and then jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second. But Glushko rallied and had two set points to even the match.

“I know she’s a pretty gritty player so I wasn’t expecting her to just fall over,” Marino said of the 28-year-old Glushko. “I knew she was going to fight back.”

Glushko’s set points came with Marino serving at 5-6. Marino swiped away one of the set points with a service winner. On match point, Marino again hit a service winner.

“I like to think that when it comes to really key points and when there’s a lot of pressure and I’m serving, I love it,” said Marino. “I’m ready to take that to my advantage.”

The players had to contend with windy conditions on Sunday.

“The weather conditions were really tough,” Marino said. “It was super windy when we were playing. It was just (a matter of) who could be the most patient and take the right opportunities. It really could have gone either way.”

Marino, 27, has had a remarkable season after five years away from professional tennis. Her Winnipeg National Bank Challenger title is Marino’s fourth of 2018 after winning three ITF Pro Circuit events in Turkey to start the year.

“To be honest, I kept my expectations super low because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself,” Marino said of her comeback season. “Realistically if you take five years off a sport you don’t come back and expect to win your first tournament. I’m trying to keep myself humble and I’m just trying to go out and win every single match.”

Kubler Wins Men’s Final

Jason Kubler of Australia won the first tournament he’s ever played in Canada, beating Austria’s Lucas Miedler 6-1, 6-1 Sunday for the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger title.

Kubler’s victory came two weeks after qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon.

“The big thing for me the last few weeks has just been thinking about moments in matches,” said Kubler. “Everyone’s pretty good and it’s always going to be pretty close. If you can do well in the big moments in the match then you’re going to be pretty successful.”

Kubler, 25, will improve on his ranking of No. 147 in the world with his title in Winnipeg.

“It puts my ranking in a spot where top 100 is in reach,” said Kubler, a former No. 1 ranked junior player in the world.”

For Miedler, the 22-year-old will see his ranking rise from No. 319 in the world with his run to the final.

“It was a very good week for me,” Miedler said. “Today was the toughest conditions all week with the wind and he played like there was no wind at all. He played unbelievable.”

Miedler beat No. 1 seed and 2017 finalist Peter Polansky of Canada in the second round. In the semifinals, Miedler got past 2016 Winnipeg National Bank Challenger champion Go Soeda of Japan.

“Here I played probably the best tournament I’ve ever played,” said Miedler. “I beat some good guys and I’m pretty happy with the week.”

Tournament Photo Galleries

View Day 9 tournament photos by David Mahussier of 1812 Photography: