Week two of the Oracle Pro Series season wrapped up in Southern California, with the women playing in Malibu and the men a bit further south in Rancho Santa Fe.
Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska stayed calm under pressure and channeled some of her past experience on the big stages to win the title at Pepperdine University, and hometown hero Brandon Nakashima brought fans out in droves to help take the crown at Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club.
Podoroska overcame peaks and valleys in her level of play to defeat American teenager Claire Liu 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Her favorite shot, the inside out forehand, helped assert her game over her opponent in key moments as did her mental toughness, which has been developed in Grand Slam appearances and big moments like winning the Gold Medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.
“It was an important thing to keep focused,” said Podoroska. “I started to play amazing, but then she played better and I made a lot of mistakes, I got a little bit nervous – I think I lost seven games in a row. I stayed calm, tried to come back and play my game and that worked for me.”
Aside from the final, however, the Argentinian only had one other three-set battle in the second round – each of her other wins were routs, dropping an average of just three games per match.
“I played very aggressive the whole week and my mental state was important. I had a very good preseason and didn’t put pressure on myself for the first part of this year. I just tried to play and do the best I can on the court.”
The 2019 Pan-American Games Gold Medalist now flies to Guadaloupe to continue to try to bring her ranking up.
“It’s really important for me to win this Oracle Pro Series tournament. I was glad to play here, the organization was amazing.”
The doubles final saw another South American victorious, with Brazil’s Laura Pigossi partnering the Netherlands’ Rosalie Van der Hoek to defeat the Pepperdine Wave duo of Astrid Wanja Brune Olsen (NOR) and Anastasia Iamachkine (PER).
Three hours south on the Pacific Coast Highway, Brandon Nakashima played a stellar match in front of a packed house of fans looking to cheer on their local star. The newly-turned pro dropped only one set in the whole tournament, including a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing of last week’s Oracle Pro Series – Ann Arbor Champion Ulises Blanch.
In the final, he defeated the in-form Frenchman Geoffrey Blancaneaux 6-3, 6-3.
“It was a really tough match today,” said the 20-year-old American. “And I was happy to be a part of it. It’s really special to get a title at home in Rancho Santa Fe, especially in the beginning of the year. This is where I started playing tennis, so it means a lot.”
After a successful Freshman year at the University of Virginia and junior career that saw him reach World No.4, Nakashima turned professional during the off-season and begins his first full year on tour with back-to-back appearances in Oracle Pro Series events.
In doubles, top-seeded Lloyd Glasspool (GBR) and Alex Lawson (USA) defeated No.2 seeded Boris Arias (BOL) and Sekou Bangoura (USA) 6-1, 7-6(1).