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Vjekoslav Skenderovic of Croatia overcame a double fault in his first serve on his way to a 6-4 6-3 victory over the Netherlands' Fred Hemmes in the final of the $10,000 ITF Futures tournament at Hadar Yosef on Saturday.
Skenderovic, ranked 498 in the world, composed himself after the double fault to win the first game. Hemmes (503) broke serve in the third game but failed to capitalize, which allowed Skenderovic to break right back.
Hemmes never regained his earlier momentum and he called for the trainer midway through the set. Skenderovic, sensing his opponent's difficulty, broke serve once again before serving out the first set.
Skenderovic lost an early 2-0 lead in the second set as Hemmes drew level, but the Dutchman once again lost his serve to make it 5-3.
Skenderovic thought he had served out the match with an ace, but the umpire called the ball out. Hemmes could only helplessly watch the ball fly past his backhand side as the Croatian's followup to his second serve sealed the victory.
"Like my semifinal [in which he defeated Russia's Mikhail Elgin on Friday], it was a very difficult match," Skenderovic said afterwards.
"It was a very mental match. Although it was not very good quality, it was always very close."
Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland (926) defeated Marlot Meddens of Netherlands (672) 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament, also at Hadar Yosef on Saturday.
Vogele broke serve midway through the first set and went on to win it. The second set mirrored the first as the match was always slightly out of Maddens' grasp.
"It is great that you have chosen to play here, as there are many other countries to play tennis in," said Ian Froman, president of the Israel Tennis Association, as he presented the players with their awards.
Froman's thanks come after a WTA Tour event scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv was cancelled in October due to security concerns following the war against Hizbullah.
Tournament organizer Yona Yair did not want to discuss the cancelled event. "We must look at the success of the event as a huge positive rather than look back," Yair said after the finals.
"Hosting this event has shown us what we have to do with our local players," noted Froman.
Only two Israelis, Amir Hadad and Amir Weintraub, progressed past the first round of this past week's men's singles
The winners of Friday's mens doubles final were Austrian pair Haider-Maurer and Steiner, who defeated Charroin and De Bonnevie of France 6-3, 6-3.
In the woman's doubles, Dutch duo Boonstra and Reinhard were defeated by the fourth seeds Hoch of Austria and Veselinovic 6-4, 7-6.
The third and final men's tournament begins Monday at the Tennis Center Ramat Hasharon.
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