News from Around Banderas Bay | December 2007
|Elizondo Captures 2nd Copa Pacifico Title|
Bob Cohen - PVNN
Juan Manuel Elizondo has been a regular competitor in recent years at the professional tennis tournaments held at the Canto Del Sol and consistently played well.
|Prior to the final match, Juan Manuel Elizondo (L) with his opponent Santiago Gonzalez.|
|Elizondo in action hitting from the baseline.|
|Gonzalez watches after hitting a winning shot.|
|Juan Elizondo is presented the winners plaque by Rueben Fregoso, owner of Pipi's Restaurant, a sponsor of the event and an avid tennis player and Canto Del Sol Tennis Director, Martin Parra.|
|Finalist Santiago Gonzalez thanks the crowd for their support accepting his plaque.|
|Elizondo and Gonzalez together at the award presentations.|
|The two participants in the finals along with everyone who played a part in the Saturday night of spectacular tennis.|
The 6th ranked player in Mexico has made the finals the last five times he has come to compete in Puerto Vallarta, but until Saturday night, he has always been the runner-up. The 24 year old from Leon, Mexico and playing out of Guadalajara has a unique style, hitting two-handed shots from the forehand and backhand sides.
In the Copa Pacifico with its $50,000 peso purse, it appeared after the first set that Juan would once again be a finalist as his opponent Santiago Gonzalez of Veracruz won the first set rather easily 6-2, mostly due to numerous unforced errors by Elizondo. Gonzalez is the 3rd best tennis pro in Mexico and reached #155 in the world in 2005, the highest ranking a Mexican has achieved in over a decade.
The second set began the same as the first, with Elizondo serving and getting broken. Gonzalez, also 24, is a big man, standing 6' 3" and his powerful serve is a big weapon in his arsenal. He won all his service games in the first set and appearances looked as if he would win them all in the match.
But something changed, as Elizondo began to play steady tennis, not looking for the angle to hit an outright winner, but to hit to an advantageous position and let his opponent do more work. It worked as Elizondo broke back to tie 1-1 in the second set, then held serve and broke Gonzalez again to go up 4-1. He has one last break of serve and won the second set by the same 6-2 score to even the match, sending it to a deciding third set.
The crowd had grown to close to capacity, a mix of local tennis fans and seasonal tourists who come to spend winters in Puerto Vallarta, mostly revolving around tennis. For the third straight set, Elizondo served first and was broken and Gonzalez held serve to go up 2-0 in the final set as Elizondo was again faced with a difficult uphill climb. He held his serve, then broke back to tie the set at 2-2.
Then the excitement and fun began as the two warriors traded games, sending the set to 5-5 and the crowd sensing a tie break. Elizondo went up 6-5 and then broke Gonzalez serve to win the match 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
It was the first trip to the winner's circle in Puerto Vallarta for Elizondo, the likable pro who has been the one consistent competitor that has always come to play in Puerto Vallarta tournaments. The victory was worth $16,000 pesos and 100 AMTP (Association of Mexican Tennis Players) points for him. Gonzalez, obviously disappointed, picked up $8,000 pesos and 75 points for his fine effort.
It was a difficult trip for Elizondo to reach the finals as he came in as the #4 seed, due to the fact that four of the top six Mexican players competed. The top four seeds reached the semifinals and Elizondo then upset the top seed and 2nd best player in Mexico, Victor Romero. The match was similar to the final, as he fell behind, losing the first set 4-6. Juan won a thrilling tie break to even the match in the second set, and then won the deciding set 6-4 to earn his ticket to the finals. Gonzalez got to the finals with a straight set 6-4, 6-4 victory over 3rd seed and 4th ranked Mexican Miguel Gallardo.
A large group of local Puerto Vallarta professionals qualified prior to the tournament to get into the main draw. A number of them won their first round matches, which in itself is quite an achievement. They were Ricardo Padilla, who lost to the #1 seed, Ramon Aguirre lost to the #8 seed, Sammy Sanchez lost to the #5 seed, Sergio Martinez lost to the eventual champion, Luis Carlos Rodriguez lost to the #3 seed, Danny Niño lost to the #7 seed and Pedro Rodriguez lost to the #2 seed. Congratulations go out from this writer and local fans that were rooting for you.
Local tennis pros generally are teaching pros or work in other professions, as even top Mexican players do not earn anything close to a large salary. Puerto Vallarta is also a very difficult location to reach to other cities that hold pro tournaments. There are no academies and the best coaches are located in the bigger cities. Thus, the only time the locals compete professionally is when a tournament is held here; two or three times a year.
Congratulations to Juan Elizondo for winning the Copa Pacifico and Santiago Gonzalez for an exciting final. Martin Parra and staff of the Canto Del Sol Resort and Tennis Club again put on a class event with an outstanding field and we congratulate them as well.