KOREAN standout Ye Ra Lee banked on her superior groundstrokes to pulverize compatriot Hee Sun Lyoo Suh, 6-3, 6-2, and snare the Holcim-ITF Women’s Circuit first leg singles crown on Saturday at the Ynares Socio-Cultural Sports Center in Pasig City.

The 17-year-old Lee, a member of the Korean national team, rallied from an early 0-2 deficit to overpower Lyoo Suh and set the tone of the match from thereon, allowing har to claim the $1,600 (P89,600) top purse and six ranking points for winning her first event on the International Tennis Federation’s women’s circuit.

At No. 7 the only remaining seed left in the tournament, the student of Kang Lee High School near Seoul didn’t drop a set in rising to the top of the event sponsored by Holcim, the world’s leading supplier of concrete materials, and local affiliate Union Cement Corp.

The locals’ campaign in the tournament got only as far as the quarterfinals, which Filipino-German Anja-Vanessa Peter and Filipino-Spaniard Edilyn Balanga both reached before bowing out.

“[Lyoo Suh] was good early on, but she needed a lot of stamina to stay with me, and I decided to attack her early on,” Lee, ranked 899th in the world, told Sports Times via interpreter.

The Indonesian pair of Septi Mende and Ayu-Fani Dimayanti posted a hard earned 7-6, 1-6, 6-0 triumph over Ye Ra Lee and Hae Seong Kim to bag the doubles title and the $650 cash prize.

However, Koreans failed to dominate the whole tournament after t

“I also had to prove my standing as a member of our national team, so I tried everything to avoid her upset.”

“She deserves to win because of her great performance, while I committed many faults and my shots weren’t good enough to get past her,” explained Lyoo-Suh, who still gained the $1,000 (P56,000) runner-up prize and 4 points on the ITF circuit.

The qualifying for the second leg of the tournament is set Monday morning at the Manila Polo Club. The Philippine Sports Commission, Wilson Balls, Holiday Inn Galleria Hotel and the ITF Grand Slam Development Fund also support the two-leg event.

Lee rose to the challenge of Lyoo-Suh early in the first set, where she faced an early 0-2 deficit. Using a pinpoint backhand and her reliable groundstrokes, she rallied to tie the match at 2-2.

Lyoo-Suh, ranked No. 1017 in the world by the International Tennis Federation, broke her compatriot’s serve to take the fifth game, but Lee broke right back to level the match and pull away.

Josef T. Ramos