By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SAN DIEGO – Sixteen-year-old Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., showed why she is one of the top junior players in the world, winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into the main draw of the 2016 US Open.
The top-seeded Day, who is ranked No. 5 in the ITF world junior rankings, defeated seventh-seeded Nicole Frenkel of Winchester, Mass., 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, in the final.
Day (pictured above) cruised into the singles final without the loss of a set. Frenkel, meanwhile, advanced by upsetting 2016 French Open girls’ finalist Amanda Anisimova in straight sets in the semifinals.
On a sunny, breezy morning at the Barnes Tennis Center, Day wasted little time in getting off to a strong start, scoring two early service breaks to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Playing with consistency and determination, Day went on to win the first set 6-2 in 41 minutes.
In the second set, Day continued to dominate as she broke Frenkel in the third game and then held serve for a 3-1 lead. The top seed was firmly in control of the match and looked to be headed for another straight-sets victory. But Frenkel fought back and cut down on her errors. She found her groove and went on to win the next five consecutive games to secure the second set.
Following a short rest break, both players held serve to begin the third set. Day got back on track and raised the level of her game. She regained the momentum, losing only seven points as she won the last five games in a row to complete the victory.
“It feels amazing,” Day said afterward. “I can’t even describe how good it feels. I’m just so happy. My serve really helped me out in the third set and I just played solid.”
Local tennis fans had plenty to cheer about as the Girls’ 16s singles featured two San Diego-area players in the final. Fourth-seeded Nicole Mossmer of La Jolla, Calif., got through a 65-minute first set and went on to complete a 7-5, 6-0 victory over 17th seeded Julia Haynes, a 15-year-old from the San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo.
Tournament officials believe it was the first time in the history of the USTA Girls’ 16s Nationals that two competitors from San Diego played against each other in the singles final.
The title match opened on Stadium Court with Mossmer and Haynes exchanging long rallies as they attempted to set up points for a winning shot. After Haynes held serve for a 5-4 lead, Mossmer began her charge to the title, sweeping the next nine games in a row.
After winning the title, Mossmer received her first USTA gold ball and will be awarded a wild card into the main draw of the 2016 US Open Junior Championships.
“It felt so good. I’ve been looking forward to this tournament all year,” said Mossmer, who turned 16 on August 5, the day before the start of the Girls’ 16s National Championships. “It feels amazing to win a USTA gold ball and a US Open junior wild card in the same day. It couldn’t get any better.”
“I’m so excited because I get to go to New York. I’ve never played at the US Open,” Mossmer added. “It’s going to be my first time. I’m going to try and play the best tennis I can.”
In the Girls’ 18s doubles championship, fifth-seeded Jada Hart of Colton, Calif., and Ena Shibahara of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., defeated ninth-seeded Meible Chi of Weston, Fla., and Taylor Russo of Deerfield Beach, Fla., 6-1, 6-4 to win the title.
With the win, Hart and Shibahara earned a wild card into the US Open women’s doubles main draw.
USTA Girls’ 16s & 18s Nationals
Barnes Tennis Center
Girls’ 18s Singles
Kayla Day (1), Santa Barbara, Calif., def. Nicole Frenkel (7), Winchester, Mass., 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
Carson Branstine (17), Orange, Calif., def. Amanda Anisimova (5), Aventura, Fla., 7-5, 5-7, 6-1
Girls’ 18s Doubles
Jada Hart (5), Colton, Calif., and Ena Shibahara, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., def. Meible Chi (9), Weston, Fla., and Taylor Russo, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 6-1, 6-4
Girls’ 16s Singles
Nicole Mossmer (4), La Jolla, Calif., def. Julia Haynes (17), San Diego, 7-5, 6-0
Katie Volynets (6), Walnut Creek, Calif., def. Hailey Baptiste (9), Washington, D.C., 6-4, 6-2
Girls’ 16s Doubles
Andrea Cerdan (9), Bloomfield, N.J., and Christina Hand, Moorestown, N.J., def. Chloe Beck (2), Watkinsville, Ga., and Emma Navarro, Charleston, S.C., 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5
For complete scores and results, click here.