J. Fred Sidhu | August 15, 2017

SAN DIEGO – The USTA Girls’ 16s & 18s National Championships came to a close at the Barnes Tennis Center after an amazing week of high-level junior tennis, with third-seeded Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., winning the Girls’ 18s singles title to earn a wild card into the main draw of the upcoming US Open.


Kratzer, 18, defeated 33rd seed Kelly Chen of Cerritos, Calif., 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in the final before a large crowd that packed Stadium Court and a national television audience on Tennis Channel, which broadcast the final two days of the tournament. 


After splitting the first two sets, Kratzer gained control of the third set with two early service breaks to establish a 4-0 lead. Chen, to the delight of the cheering crowd, fought back with two service breaks of her own to tie the set at 4-4.


In the ninth game, Kratzer, who is ranked No. 344 in the WTA singles rankings, regained the momentum as she held serve at love for a 5-4 lead. As Chen served to stay in the match, Kratzer dropped only a single point, breaking serve to close out the match.


“It feels absolutely amazing. I was not expecting to win the whole tournament. I set a goal just to get to the semis,” Kratzer said after winning the title. “To actually win is amazing.  I’m so excited to be in the US Open. It’s always been a dream of mine. I’m really looking forward to that.”


The match marked the first time the Girls’ 18s singles final was broadcast on live television. Afterward, the newly crowned singles champion spoke about the experience.  


“It was a little nerve-wracking at first. It was really cool that Tennis Channel was here,” she said. “It’s nice to see that (girls’) tournaments are now being televised. It was an amazing tournament. I thought the crowd was awesome. All and all it was a good experience.”


The previous day, 16-year-old Angelica Blake of Boca Raton, Fla., captured the Girls’ 16s singles championship, scoring a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over her close friend and doubles partner Nikki Redelijk of Windermere, Fla.


In the deciding third set, with the scored tied at 3-3, Redelijk broke serve to take a 4-3 lead. Blake, however, would not lose another game as she came back to break serve twice and sweep the final three games of the match to clinch the title.


“The third set was filled with lots of ups and downs, breaks and holds,” said Blake, who earned a wild card into the US Open Junior Championships. “We were trying so hard and we were both so tight, but I think we ended up playing pretty well. It was a competitive match. I just thought, ‘Go out there and go for it.’” 


After receiving her USTA gold ball for winning the championship, Blake spoke about how it felt playing before a large crowd and on live television.


“I felt like I was playing a pro match, which I’ve never done before. I’ve been on a court with line officials before, but the atmosphere with Tennis Channel and everyone watching, it was very nerve-wracking,” she said. “I just focused and played my game and got through it. Playing in front of all of those people was very special.”


Here’s a closer look at the complete results from the USTA Girls’ National Championships:


USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships

Barnes Tennis Center, San Diego, Aug. 5-13

Singles: (3) Ashley Kratzer (Newport Beach, Calif.) d. (33) Kelly Chen (Cerritos, Calif.), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

Doubles: (5) Claire Liu (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) / Taylor Johnson (Redondo Beach, Calif.) d. (6), Hailey Baptiste (Washington, D.C.) / Ellie Douglas (McKinney, Texas), 6-7, 6-3, 6-2


USTA Girls’ 16s National Championships

Barnes Tennis Center, San Diego, Aug. 5-13

Singles: (9) Angelica Blake (Boca Raton, Fla.) d. (14) Nikki Redelijk (Windermere, Fla.), 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

Doubles: (17) Blake / Redelijk d. (5) Kylie Collins (Savannah, Ga.) / Shelly Yaloz (Little Neck, N.Y.), 6-2, 7-5


USTA Girls’ 14s National Championships

Metro Tennis Associates, Peachtree City, Ga., Aug. 5-12

Singles: (17) Robin Montgomery (Washington, D.C.) d. (33) Reese Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wisc.), 6-0, 6-1

Doubles: (1) Savannah Broadus (Carollton, Texas) / Kailey Evans (Ennis, Texas) d. (5) Carson Tanguilig (Alpharetta, Ga.) / Elise Wagle (Niskayuna, N.Y.), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1


USTA Girls’ 12s National Championships

Windward Lake Club, Alpharetta, Ga., Aug. 5-12

Singles: (2) Eleana Yu (Mason, Ohio) d. (9) Natalie Block (Plantation, Fla.), 6-3, 6-1

Doubles: Brooklyn Olson (Mission Hills, Kan.) / Natalia Perez (Guaynabo, P.R.) d. (2) Katherine Hui (San Diego) / Madeleine Jessup (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.), 6-0, 4-6, 6-1




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