By Steve Pratt
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The tougher the match earlier in the tournament, the better Varvara Lepchenko seemed to play.
The 24-year-old from Allentown, Pa., won her seventh career singles title with a dominating 6-2, 6-2 win over part-time Las Vegas resident and Romanian Sorana Cirstea on the final day at the Lexus of Las Vegas Open played at the Red Rock Country Club in Summerlin.
"It really helped my game," said Lepchenko, after receiving her winning check for $7,315 of her three and a half hour quarterfinal win over No. 6 seeded Anna Tatishvili, which included two tiebreakers. "It hasn’t sunk in yet. My mind is still in the match and I’m still playing."
Lepchenko had her left thigh heavily taped for the final but that didn’t prevent her from moving well all day and controlling almost every game. She went up 4-1 in the first set after two quick breaks of Cirstea’s serve.. It was the same story in the second set as she took a commanding 4-1 and then 5-2 lead before serving out the match.
"I’m very disappointed with my tennis today but that’s tennis and I’m happy overall with my week here," said Cirstea, who was watched by her coach Darren Cahill, her trainer Gil Reyes and Mike Agassi, Andre’s father. "Las Vegas is my No. 1 town. I would love to move here one day. It’s my favorite place to be."
A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko has lived in the United States since 2001 after receiving political asylum and became a U.S. citizen in 2007.
Tournament co-director Jordan Butler said this year’s tournament was a huge success.
"We were really pleased with our player field and the level of play we had out there all week," he said. "The crowds were great and we just received word that Lexus of Las Vegas has made a commitment to us for next year so we’re coming back bigger and better."
Since teaming up for the first time back in May and winning the $50,000 Carson Challenger, Lindsay Lee-Waters and Megan Moulton-Levy have enjoyed some success. They started slow on Sunday, but rallied to win the doubles title over the tournament’s wild-card team of Irina Falconi and current USC All-American Maria Sanchez, 1-6, 7-5, 10-4.
Lee-Waters dominated the super tiebreaker and won several points on aggressive put-away volleys. "That’s what is great about playing with Lindsay, she never gives up," said Moulton-Levy.
The pair split the $2,660 prize money while Falconi and Sanchez received $1,425 with Sanchez taking just expenses because she’s still an amateur. Sanchez begins play on Tuesday in the qualifying doubles at the ITA Riviera All American where she is the No. 3 seeded player in the maid draw singles, which begins on Thursday. Sanchez is currently ranked No. 3 in the ITA collegiate rankings and will play No. 1 for the Trojans this year.
It was the 18th Pro Circuit doubles title for Lee-Waters, which ranks her third all-time. The Pro Circuit’s leading money winner in 2009, the 33-year-old mother of two now has 29 total USTA Pro Circuit titles. Moulton-Levy played four years at William & Mary College where she was a four-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.
Sunday’s Finals Reults
Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), def. Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), 6-2, 6-2
Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4) def. Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S. (wc), 1-6, 7-5, 10-4