Lauren Davis, a 27-year-old Gates Mills native, didn’t know when she lost to Anett Kontaveit in the opening round of the Tennis in the Land event on Aug. 23 she had just faced the eventual champion.
Davis lost 6-1, 0-6, 0-6 to Kontaveit from Estonia in the first round that featured 32 players.
The inaugural Tennis in the Land is a part of the WTA 250 category of the 2021 WTA Tour. Fifty-four matches took place from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28. The field of 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams competed for about $300,000 in prizes.
The Davis-Kontaveit match was played in front of a majority “home” crowd at the 3,000-seat Jacobs Pavilion in The Flats in downtown Cleveland. Although Davis did not come away victorious, the near-sellout crowd gave her a standing ovation as she exited the court.
Kontaveit of Estonia won her second WTA Tour title, beating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the final Aug. 28.
The 30th-ranked Kontaveit entered the tournament on a four-match losing streak, then won five matches in six days in the inaugural WTA 250 event.
“It’s been a rough year, so I was really enjoying myself,” Kontaveit said. “Of course, it’s special to get a title as it’s been a while, but the main thing for me was gaining more confidence on the court. The welcome we received was so warm, it felt like home here.”
Kontaveit didn’t double-fault until the final game and completed the 115-minute contest with a forehand down the left sideline. She also won in 2017 in the Netherlands.
No. 74 Begu fell behind 5-2 in the opening set before succeeding on her fifth break point, then held serve to force the tiebreaker. She missed a drop-shot and made an unforced error, in order, to lose her first set at the tournament.
“Anett, you played amazing and you deserved to win,” Begu said. “It’s been an amazing week for me, celebrating my (31st) birthday and having so many Romanians here cheering. This has been a wonderful experience.”
Begu advanced to her first final since winning in Bucharest in her homeland in 2017. She was seeking her fifth WTA Tour title.
“It was a really, really, really, really close match,” Kontaveit said. “Putting pressure on yourself is not necessary, so I went point by point, trying to stay as calm as I could. I’m very happy with the way I pushed myself and pushed through.”
In the doubles final, top-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan beat Christina McHale of the United States and Sania Mirza of India 7-5, 6-3.
Aoyama and Shibahara won for the fifth time this year and eighth overall.
“American crowds have such a big voice, I thank you for that,” said Aoyama, who has 17 career doubles title. “And thank you Ena for playing with me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.