In a match that pitted two contrasting athletes against each other, the cool, smooth, reserve of the USA’s teenage prodigy Marina Stefanoni competed with the passion, emotion and desire of the ironically similarly named French woman Marie Stephan.
Stephan has taken the scalp of the no 1 seed Ineta Mackevica in the semi finals on Friday evening and came into the final full of confidence and determination.
Stefanoni had progressed very comfortably through the draw, and appeared in the final with her customary calm and undoubted focus.
In the first game the American moved very deliberately and played extremely accurate lines – keeping the ball on the side walls and, when opportunities arose combining severe twisting cross-courts and short attacking widths. The Frenchwoman found it difficult to settle and was wrong footed several times and found Stefanoni’s precision length difficult to continually retrieve.
The second game was, perhaps, the crux of the match. After more of the same from the American, Stephan dug deep and staged a magnificent comeback with deep raking lengths setting her up with some loose balls from Stefanoni, which offered her the chance to use her skillful wrong footing deception to win a series of long debilitating rallies. As the game came toward the end, the younger Stefanoni appeared to be winded and even gave up on one long rally.
But just as the French woman seemed about to level the match, the young American played two rallies of such severity and precision that Stephan’s comeback had the wind blown out of its sales.
Marina took charge and with trademark accuracy took the second game.
In the third, Stefanoni maintained something of a stranglehold and despite courageous endeavor, Marie Stephan could not break free of the iron grip of precise length and sudden vicious wrong footing volleys and short arm flicks that Stefanoni used to create missteps from her opponent and ultimately, take the match.
Many congratulations to Marina on winning her second career PSA event. A worthy champion giving notice of more to come.