Andreea Slusarciuc makes a backhand return during her win in the Public Courts women's open finals.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was a second straight year in the women's open singles finals and an opponent with a similar name for Andreea Slusarciuc, but this time around the result was much different and much more enjoyable.A year after falling to seven-time women's champion Erica White, Slusarciuc returned to the finals and cruised past George Washington High School rising junior Kirsten White (no relation to Erica) and picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win at the Charleston Public Courts tennis tournament Saturday at the Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City.Slusarciuc asserted herself and controlled the match from the outset."It feels good of course because I won," Slusarciuc said. "I did my best to step up my game. It was a good match and a good win."
Slusarciuc, a rising senior at West Virginia State and a native of Romania, got her first taste of the Public Courts last year and really liked the tournament.So much, in fact, that she brought her younger sister Silvana along this year as the two paired up for the siblings doubles draw and Silvana competed with former Hurricane standout and State player Jordan Kerns in the women's open doubles division.Andreea Slusarciuc, working on a double major in finance and international business at State, hopes to try for her master's degree and become a tennis coach.Whether or not her future will include a return trip to the Public Courts next year to defend her newly acquired crown is yet to be seen, but she said she hopes to be back."I will try," Slusarciuc said. "I really like this tournament and I hope I can play with my sister again next summer. I was really happy I had the opportunity to bring my sister over. We both played here and I introduced her to a lot of people and she got a feeling of how it is to be here."Maybe more than just the tennis aspect, Slusarciuc said the event has allowed her to settle in and become part of the Charleston community."I came here three years ago on a tennis scholarship and at first I didn't know anybody when I got here," Slusarciuc said. "Through three years I've met good people here, I've made a lot of friends, I have a lot of connections and it feels like home here, actually."It looks to be just the beginning of a long and successful run at the Public Courts for Kirsten White, who held her own and then some this week in the 16-year-old's second appearance in the women's open draw.She advanced to the high school state tournament for the second year in a row for GW, including last year as the Patriots' No. 1 singles player.But on Saturday, White simply ran into a much more polished and experienced player than she's used to seeing."Her game was really hard to play against because she's just everywhere on the court," she said. "I was hitting the ball short on the court and she was there to put it in the spot it needed to go to hit a winner.
"This tournament I played college players and they have more experience and time put into it, and in high school they're still trying to improve their game a lot more."White admitted that her ultimate goal is to play tennis in college.Slusarciuc believed the youngster is well on her way."She's actually a very good player," Slusarciuc said. "She definitely has some things she has to work on and improve but I'm sure she'll definitely play in college, and if she's still going to push things the way she does she can get a scholarship to a good college."Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/Rpritt.