Oyinlomo Quadre capped off a sensational week at the ITF Junior Tennis Club de Megrine by winning the title on Sunday. It was her first ITF Grade 3 title and biggest of her fledgling career.
The young Nigerian defeated the in-form Russian, Maria Bondarenko in three sets, rallying from an opening set loss to seal a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory and reign supreme in Megrine. The victory, however, didn’t come easy. There were occasional bouts of a lapse in concentration from the 15-year-old, squandering good leads, but she did incredibly well to put her nerves in check when it mattered most and power to victory.
“This match could have been easier for me cause I think tactically I was doing good, but mentally I slowed down at some important points,” said Quadre. “Just so you know, I was 5-2 up in the first set and I lost it and I was 5-1 up in the second before winning 6-4”
After opening a 5-2 lead in the first set, Quadre lost her way, as Bondarenko found her range to win 5 of the next 6 games and take the set. Quadre knew then, that she had to quickly regroup.
“Well, I said to myself ‘Oyin you know you can win this match, you know you had it under control. She might have won first set because of your mistakes but she won’t win the match because of those mistakes of the first set.'”
The youngster regained her form to win the next two sets.
Having had a lukewarm start to the season in clay-court events in Morocco, Quadre bounced back- first, making a run to a third-place finish at the AJC 16 and Under event in Hammamet, Tunisia, before her title-winning run in Megrine. She credits the twist in fortune to her affinity for the hard court and work ethic.
“Well, first, hard court is my favourite surface which I am sure you already know,” said Quadre. “I enjoyed every bit of the challenge and I kept working hard, trying to improve after every match, improving tactically and that’s what helped me a lot.”
Quadre finished off the match with a short angle cross-court winner, and was initially shocked at the realization that she had just won her biggest career title.
“Hahaha, it was funny,” she said of her reaction after converting match point. “We [she and Bondarenko] did a long rally and I did a winner with a short angle cross and when she just didn’t run after it, I stood still, looked at the coach, told myself ‘it’s real, Oyin’ and then I shouted, ‘Come on!’
“No tears really, cause I feel like I have not really achieved my long-term goals yet,” she added.
The Nigerian will continue her grind on the ITF Junior Circuit this week at the Grade 2 clay-court event in Algeria. She’s now away from the hard court, and conditions will be different.
“Well … I will be playing a G2 in Algeria on clay [this week], different weather, different atmosphere and surface so I am going to have to take things slowly next week.”