Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC) won the biggest title of her blossoming career on Sunday at the $50,000 Saguenay National Bank Challenger.
The top-seeded Canadian put forth an impressive performance against second-seeded American Alison Riske, ranked no. 157 in the world, in a hotly disputed and highly entertaining singles final between the tournament’s top two seeds at the Saguenay Indoor Tennis Club, coming away with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(5) victory to capture her first title of the season and second of her career.
Marino, who was playing in her second final of 2010, was almost invincible on serve in the opening set and made the most of a break in the tenth game to take the early lead. The 19-year old seemed well on her way to a straight sets win in the second set as she held three match points on Riske’s serve at 15-40, but just as the American had done all week, she played her best in the big moments and hit three winners with her back against the wall to ultimately comeback to win the tiebreak.
Riske started the final set just as she had finished the second and secured herself a 3-1 advantage with a break. This time it was Marino’s turn to turn the tables as she quickly broke back and much to the delight of the partisan crowd, the home favourite sent the match into a decisive third set tiebreak. The two players went back and forth in the tiebreak until Marino delivered the final blow and converted on her first match point at 6-5 with Riske serving.
"I’m so happy to have come out the winner today because the match definitely could have gone either way," Marino said. "We both brought our best game to the court today and I’m glad we were able to give the fans a good show. I love coming here (to Saguenay) it is a great tournament and I am honoured to be the event’s champion."
Riske, 20, announced her arrival on the professional tennis scene earlier this year when she reached the semifinals as a qualifier at the WTA Tour grass court Wimbledon tune up event in
Birmingham. Sunday’s triumph was Marino’s third over her opponent in as many tries. She is the first Canadian to capture the Saguenay crown in the event’s five year history.
It was also announced during the trophy presentation that the Saguenay National Bank Challenger will be back for a sixth edition in 2011.