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EDWARDSVILLE – Something had to give when Axel Geller of Argentina and Sebastian Korda of the USA met each other in Sunday’s singles final of the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Edwardsville Futures tennis tournament presented by the EGHM Foundation at the Edwardsville High tennis center.

Neither one had previously won a professional championship during their time on the USTA futures tour; Geller, however, won the Wimbledon juniors doubles title last year and reached the final of the singles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, achievements that had helped him reach the spot of the world’s top-ranked junior boys player. Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, himself went into the match as this year’s Aussie Open boys junior champion and ranked second in the world junior boys rankings.

Geller came away with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) win over Korda to take his first championship at this level before a large crowd at the tennis center.

“We’ve trained together; we’ve known each other for a while,” Geller said following the win. “He’s a great player and a really nice kid outside of the court; inside the court, we both really want to beat each other.

“He beat me last week (to win the Ursula Beck futures title in Decatur); everything was fine. I beat him this week and everything is still fine – we’re good friends, he’s a great player; we’re both trying to get to the same place and we’re both obviously at the same level. It’s really good to have him here.”

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Geller had to survive a nearly three-hour semifinal win over Maxime Cressy of France the day before and then take a tiebreaker in the final set to win the championship. “It was some tough tennis and two very different matches,” Geller said. “Yesterday, I was playing a serve-and-volleyer (in Cressy); he was very good at what he did and made it very tough; his serves were very good, some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

“Today, it was kind of similar when (Korda) broke me in the third set; he was serving really well and I wasn’t able to get into the service games; he went up two breaks in the third. Yesterday’s match helped me in that I just stayed calm and helped me go for it when I had the opportunity.”

When the match got to a tiebreaker in the final set (sets that reach 6-6 play a tiebreaker where the winner much reach seven points first while winning by at least two points), Geller got on a hot streak that gave him the championship, shutting out Korda 7-0 in the tiebreak. “The first three points in the tiebreak were so important,” Geller said. “I made a first serve and then a good return; I hit a decent return – he kind of gave me a third point. I knew it was a very important advantage to have two serves; I tried to keep calm and do my thing.

“Having that advantage helped make me stay more calm than if it had been tighter; it gave me an edge at the end.”

Geller had won the opening set going away and looked poised to make short work of Korda before he made a couple of adjustments to take the match to a third set. “I kind of took my time a little more and tried to make the points a little bit longer,” Korda said. “He was playing some really good tennis and when he’s on, it’s tough to play against him.”

The Illinois Swing portion of the tour – which included the Futures tournaments in Champaign, Decatur and Edwardsville – may well prove to be a good step for Korda, he felt. “I was really consistent the last three weeks,” Korda said. “I’m really happy about that; now I get to go home (to Bradenton, Fla.) and go back to work.”

Both players enjoyed the experiences they had in Edwardsville during the week. “It was awesome,” Korda said of the week in Edwardsville. “We (Korda and Geller) went to the Texas Roadhouse (restaurant) every single night.

“It was completely full today; you don’t see that often (on the Futures tour).”

“I’m super-happy about everything,” Geller said. “This was a great week for me; if I’m still at the Futures level, I definitely plan on coming back next year.”Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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