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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2007

Toral surprises Dominiak; Eccleston not too young

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Cristobal Toral is charged up by winning a point against Todd Dominiak in yesterday Toledo Singles Championship final. Cristobal Toral is charged up by winning a point against Todd Dominiak in yesterday Toledo Singles Championship final.
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Cristobal Toral yelled loud enough for all to hear, though because he was speaking Spanish, few understood him.

Everyone, though, understood what was happening. Toral was about to pull a major upset, and for the first time in six years there was going to be a new city champion, err, campeon.

Toral yesterday did what no one has done since 2001 and that was defeat Todd Dominiak at the City of Toledo Singles Championship held at Toledo Tennis Club.

I need to be honest, I wasn t expecting to win the tournament, said Toral, an assistant women s coach at the University of Toledo.

Who could have predicted it? Dominiak is a nine-time city champion and winner of the last five. Toral was merely the sixth seed and unrested after playing a four-hour semifinal Friday evening.

It mattered little as the 24-year-old, originally from Chile, downed the 41-year-old Dominiak 6-4, 7-5.

Dominiak, who plays only in this tournament, is probably going to retire from singles competition, ending a tremendous run which began with his first championship in 1988.

I just don t feel the need to put my body through that every year, he said. My wife, Kathy, and I talked about, win or lose this match, the way I felt on the court [Friday in the semifinal] that it s about time, so something drastic would have to happen for me to change my mind.

Madelyn Eccleston, 16, found youth to be an ally yesterday in a victory over Cindy Yonker in the women s title match. Madelyn Eccleston, 16, found youth to be an ally yesterday in a victory over Cindy Yonker in the women s title match.
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Youth was also a factor in the women s final, as high school star Madelyn Eccleston won 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-2 over a fatigued Cindy Yonker, who at 32, is twice her opponent s age.

I m only 16 and I m playing against women in their 30s and you know it s hard for them, said Eccleston, who will be a junior at St. Ursula.

Eccleston, the fourth seed, took a 5-2 lead in the first set before a collapse that began with four double-faults in the next game. She never recovered in the set and Yonker later won in a tiebreaker.

It was just a mental lapse, I don t know what happened, Eccleston said. I think that s what kind of lost the first set for me. After that game I was mentally done.

In the second set it was Yonker who watched a 5-3 lead evaporate as Eccleston went on a tear, winning 10 of the next 12 games.

My conditioning is a bit different than hers, Yonker said. I chase [my sons] and she s probably still running hills.

And working a great deal on her game. A year ago Eccleston didn t enter this tournament, feeling as if she wasn t ready. Now she s defeating very capable and veteran players like Yonker and JoEllen Kaufman, last year s champion whom Eccleston defeated in the semifinals.

I just thought I was too young, Eccleston said. You see all of these older women, more experienced women out there. I just didn t think I was ready mentally or physically for a tournament like this.

Dominiak was impressive as he took a 4-1 lead in the first set, but it certainly wasn t a sign of what would transpire. Toral capitalized on an obvious speed and energy advantage, forcing Dominiak into several unforced, and uncharacteristic, errors.

He s a player that likes to position the ball on the court. He s very good at the net, but I like to put the ball deep so he didn t have the chance to move forward that easy, Toral said.

Now it looks as if Dominiak will be stepping back, possibly succumbing to the realization that he can no longer compete at a level he prefers.

I think it s time. If I would have won today I would be saying the same thing, Dominiak said. From last year s semifinal on it felt like I aged five or seven years.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com.



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