It was a day to remember at the USTA Girls’ 18s & 16s National Championships for ninth-seeded Kylie McKenzie as the 15-year-old from Anthem, Ariz., surprised second-seeded Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., 6-1, 6-4 to win the Girls’ 16s singles title.
On a sunny, breezy day at the Barnes Tennis Center, McKenzie played an aggressive baseline game as she quickly won the first set 6-1 and took a 3-0 second set lead. However, Day mounted a comeback and won four of the next six games.
As McKenzie served for the match at 5-4, she fell behind 15-40, but fought off five break points in a long game that went to deuce five times. McKenzie eventually reached her fourth match point with a down the line backhand winner and won the match on the next point with a forehand winner.
“I was having trouble closing it out. She started playing better. At 5-4 it was a super-long game. I was getting tight. I played two really good points at the end. It was a tough match.” said McKenzie, who was award a USTA gold ball for winning the national championship.
Last month, McKenzie dropped a tough three-set match to Day in the quarterfinals of the USTA 16s National Clay Court tournament but came into today’s match determined to play more aggressively against Day, who trains with McKenzie at the USTA Training Center in Carson, Calif.
“I knew I was playing well coming into this tournament. This tournament was my goal. I really wanted to play well. I came out so focused. I’ve improved a lot lately,” McKenzie said. “Coming out today, I knew what I need to do. I kept to the game plan and I just played my game.”
McKenzie earned a wild card into the US Open Girls’ main draw in New York and will be making her first career appearance in a Grand Slam 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.
The Girls’ 18s singles final, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, will feature second-seeded CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., versus fifth-seeded Tornado Alicia Black of Boca Raton, Fla.
In today’s Girls’ 18s semifinals, Bellis outlasted 15th seeded Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 and Black ousted top-seeded Louisa Chirico of Harrison, N.Y., 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.
The fifteen-year-old Bellis compiled a 34-4 record in international junior competition this summer, winning four International Tennis Federation junior singles titles. She is currently the No. 2 ranked junior in the world.
Black reached the 2013 US Open Girls’ singles final as an unseeded wild card and was a Wimbledon junior quarterfinalist earlier this year. The 16-year-old, who is currently ranked 574 in the world, won her second career USTA Pro Circuit title last month.
The 18s singles champion will receive a wild card into the women’s singles main draw at the US Open. The 18s doubles champions will also be awarded a wild card entry into the US Open doubles main draw.
For complete match scores, results and draws, please go to: http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=...
Saturday’s action will be broadcast live on RadioTennis.com, which will offer audio play-by-play on Stadium Court.
Admission and on-site parking are free at the Barnes Tennis Center. For latest tournament updates, go to: http://www.ustagirlsnationals.com/
About USTA Girls’ 16s & 18s Nationals Presented by adidas
The USTA Girls’ 16 & 18s National Championships Presented by adidas are the premiere hard court tennis tournaments for amateur and professional American girls aged 18 and 16 and under in the United States. In 2010, both age groups began playing their events concurrently at San Diego’s Barnes Tennis Center. Tournament participants, who represent nearly every state in the United States, have been endorsed by their respective USTA Section or have received USTA special exemptions based on their results in qualifying tournaments, junior rankings, or results on the WTA Tour or International Tennis Federation Junior Circuit. Past tournament champions include Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger, Zina Garrison, Mary Joe Fernandez, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.
About George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center
The Center is owned and operated by Youth Tennis San Diego. It was built in 1995 and completed in 1997. The $4.5 million dollar junior tennis facility was made possible with generous public and private donations and is named after the lead donor family - the “George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center.” The Center, which is dedicated to the youth of San Diego, offers children 18 and under court priority over adults with advanced reservations.