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Champions crowned at USTA Girls 16’s and 18’s Nationals

Tornado Black hits a backhand return of serve in her loss to eventual winner Cici Bellis in the finals of the USTA Girls 18s Singles at the Barnes Tennis Center
Tornado Black hits a backhand return of serve in her loss to eventual winner Cici Bellis in the finals of the USTA Girls 18s Singles at the Barnes Tennis CenterDave Kensler

A great week of junior tennis has concluded at the Barnes Tennis Center with a couple of girls being able to call themselves, “National Champion.”

The United States Tennis Association(USTA) Girls 16s and 18s Nationals is one of the most prestigious junior tennis tournaments held in the country.

In the Girls’ 16s singles title match, 15-year old Kylie McKenzie from Anthem, Arizona who was seeded ninth, upset the second-seed Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, California by a score of 6-1, 6-4.

Just last month the two met in the quarterfinals of the USTA 16s National Clay Court tournament with Day winning in three sets. The two competitors are quite familiar with each other since they both train at the USTA Training Center in Carson, California.

For her victory, McKenzie receives an automatic wild card entry into the US Open Girls’ Singles Main Draw at the end of August in New York. With that also comes her first appearance in a major event.

“It’s going to be my first, so it’s a big deal to me. All the hard work has paid off. I’m so excited. It’s going to be an amazing experience,” she said in an interview after her win.

The 18’s singles championship was captured by 15-year old Cici Bellis from Atherton, California, 6-3,6-1 over 16-year old Tornado Alicia Black of Boca Raton, Florida. In this case the seeding held true to form with Bellis being the second-seed and Black the fifth-seed.

Although in the semifinals Black upset the number-one seed Louisa Chirico of Harrison, New York in a tough three-set match, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.

Bellis made the choice to bypass tournaments in the United States over most of the summer and instead opted for international junior competition. She won four International Tennis Federation singles titles on the way to an impressive 34-4 record and a number two world ranking in junior tennis.

For her efforts, Bellis will now be in the Main Draw of the US Open Women’s Singles. The winner of the Girls’ 18s is given an automatic wild card entry.

“I was so emotional at the end of the match. It feels amazing. I’ve been dreaming about playing there since I was seven years old,” said a teary-eyed Bellis after the match during an oncourt interview. “The fact that I’m going to be playing there in a week and a half is amazing. I’m so excited.”

For complete tournament results including doubles please visit http://www.ustagirlsnationals.com/