THERE were no top-100 players in the men's draw when the Odlum Brown VanOpen started at West Vancouver's Hollyburn Country Club on July 28 but by the time it ended on Sunday there was one headed that way in a hurry.
It took Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands just one hour to beat Ukraine's Sergei Bubka 6-1, 7-5 in Sunday's final played under a scorching summer sun. Seeded No. 1 in the tournament, Sijsling jumped from 102 in the world rankings all the way up to 74 when the list was updated on Monday. The 24-year-old may turn out to be one of the Open's famous shooting stars - youngsters like Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray played the tournament before hitting it big - as he has risen to his current spot after beginning 2012 as the 200th-ranked player in the world. This is the first time he's cracked the top-100 in his career.
"It's one of my goals I set when I was a little kid," Sijsling said after the match. "I'm really happy that I broke into it and I'm trying to stay there for a long time."
The Dutch player was too hot to handle in the early going as he scored three service breaks en route to a quick win of the first set. In the second set Bubka, son of the famous Ukrainian pole vaulter of the same name, battled back to make things interesting but in the end Sijsling set the bar too high.
"He played really well today, it was very difficult from the first point on," said Bubka. "I felt like I had to do something special to beat him - he wasn't missing and was playing aggressively and deserved to win."
Sijsling, who said he hoped to be back next year to defend his title, was very happy with the way he played on the Hollyburn courts.
"I felt very comfortable playing here and confident on the court - it's been a great week for me," he said. "I had a great time, it's a beautiful club, beautiful town, beautiful people."
The VanOpen champ on the women's side also got a nice career bump for her troubles. In an all-American final, Mallory Burdette topped Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-0 to claim the title without dropping a single set in the tournament. The win earned Burdette a wild card entrance into the main draw of U.S. Open which begins at the end of August.
"I'm so excited," Burdette said, moments after learning that she'd earned a ticket into the Grand Slam tournament. "I knew that it was going to be a tough match today - I played Jessie last week and we just go shot-for-shot. She hits the ball so well. I really enjoyed playing her, actually. I knew it was going to be tough right from the beginning and I'm proud of the way that I hung in there. I was definitely feeling the nerves a little bit but I worked through it and it was a great day."
The action started on Sunday with the men's doubles final and it was the Belgian duo of Maxime Authom and Ruben Bemelmans that took the title, defeating John Peers and John-Patrick Smith of Australia 6-4, 6-2.
The women's doubles final, played Saturday, was won by Julia Glushko of Israel and Olivia Rogowska of Australia who knocked off Jacqueline Cako and Natalie Pluskota of the United States 6-4, 5-7 (10-7).