LAS VEGAS, Nev., (Oct. 2, 2010) – Sorana Cirstea has played on the grandest stages in tennis, including the All-England Club at Wimbledon and Roland Garros at the French Open. But the 20-year-old Romanian told the Lexus of Las Vegas Open tennis fans there was no place she would have rather been on Saturday than Las Vegas.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Roland Garros or wherever, it’s just a pleasure to play before all these wonderful people,” said the No. 3 seeded Cristea, after her 6-3, 6-4 win over her countrywoman and top-seeded Edina Gallovits in the semifinals of the USTA $50,000 Pro Circuit event being held at the Red Rock Country Club in Summerlin.
Cirstea, who lives in Las Vegas a quarter of the year training with the Adidas group led by Darren Cahill and Gil Reyes, will meet American Varvara Lepchenko in today’s final. Lepchenko, the No. 2 seed, beat No. 4 Mirjana Lucic in similar fashion, 6-3, 6-4, in the first semifinal on Saturday.
Cirstea controlled the match opening up a 5-1 second set lead with her popping first serve and consistent groundstrokes. “She is tough to play because she is such a good friend,” Cirstea said of the 25-year-old Gallovits, who she now holds a 3-0 career head-to-head against, including a straight-set win over her in the first round at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships.
Cirstea has dropped just one set in the tournament, which came in the first round against American Irina Falconi. “After I survived that first round I started feeling more confidence,” she said.
The lefty Lepchenko got her revenge against Lucic, who beat her last week in the semifinals at the Albuquerque, N.M., Pro Circuit event. In that match, Lepchenko was actually up a set and a break before letting Lucic back in the match which Lucic ultimately won, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. “I did start to remember about last week when I was up 3-0 and 4-1 in the second set,” Lepchenko said. “I just had to keep reminding myself to stay aggressive.”
A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko currently resides in Allentown, Pa. She has lived in the United States since 2001 after receiving political asylum and became a U.S. citizen in 2007.
In the doubles final on Sunday at 11 a.m., wild cards Falconi and Maria Sanchez will face No. 4 seeds Lindsay Lee-Waters and Megan Moulton-Levy.
Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Results
wc: wild card
Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), def. Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4), 6-3, 6-4
Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), def. Edina Gallovits, Romania (1), 6-3, 6-4
Sunday’s Finals Order of Play
Stadium Court Starting at 11 a.m.
Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S. (wc), vs. Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4)
Followed by Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), vs. Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3)
The tournament title sponsor is Lexus of Las Vegas with the presenting sponsor Hand Surgery Specialists of Nevada. Thank you to all the members who sponsored the tournament, including Dan Jackson with Raymond James, Kate Lowe of State Farm. Dwain Frazier of All State, Rob Weisbord of CW Las Vegas, Keith Brille of Women’s Specialty Care and Dr. Jeffrey Ng, .MD, among many others.
For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com.
LAS VEGAS PAST CHAMPIONS
Year Winner Runner-up
2009 Regina Kulikova (RUS) Aniko Kapros (HUN)
2008 Camille Pin (FRA) Asia Muhammad (U.S.)
2007 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) Akiko Morigami (JPN)
1999 Erika de Lone (U.S.) Hila Rosen (ISR)
2009 Aniko Kapros (HUN) – Agustina Lepore (ARG)
2008 Melinda Czink (HUN) – Renata Voracova (CZE)
2007 Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)
1999 Erika de Lone (U.S.) – Annabel Ellwood (AUS)
SINGLES: Prize Money Points
Winner $7,315 70
Runner-up $3,990 50
Semifinalist $2,185 32
Quarterfinalist $1,235 18
Round of 16 $760 10
Round of 32 $475 1
DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)
Round of 16 $285
USTA Pro Circuit
With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.