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Kylie McKenzie Wins Girls 16s Hards

August 11, 2014 02:53 PM

Athem, Ariz. junior girl wins top 16s event for American girls - Qualifies For 2014 US Open Juniors

Kylie_McKenzie_Gold_BallAnthem, Ariz. junior Kylie McKenzie pulled off the biggest singles result in quite awhile by a USTA Southwest junior, winning the USTA National Girls 16s singles title, Saturday, August 9 at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif.

McKenzie,  15, and the ninth seed at the Girls 16s event, took out five seeds along the way, and dropped just one set in seven total singles matches en route to her first national age group gold ball title.

More importantly, with the win in San Diego, McKenzie earned a wild card into the US Open Girls' main draw junior event in New York in a couple of weeks time, her first career appearance in a junior Grand Slam event.

McKenzie showed flashes of big things to come in the Southwest Junior Closed in early June in Tucson, destroying the field their on her way to the Girls 18s title, but few could have predicted such a big splash in San Diego, even moving down an age group.

McKenzie - a Phoenician who trains about half the time with the USTA and the other half at home with former Arizona State men's coach Lou Belkin - had a torrid start in her final against second-seeded Kayla Day, winning the opening set 6-1.

Day had beaten McKenzie just a couple weeks prior in the quarterfinals of the USTA Girls 16s Clay Courts in a tight three-set match, but the early stranglehold McKenzie got on Day in San Diego proved to be a big difference.

Both Day and McKenzie (training partners at the USTA Training Center in Carson, Calif.) played pretty much even through the second set, until McKenzie snatched the lead at 5-4, and served for the title.

The final game of the match turned into a multiple-deuce marathon for McKenzie, testing her resolve and patience, down 15-40 to start and giving up three early match points.

Kylie_McKenzie_3She buckled down and roped two winners on the match's final two points, including a forehand winner on the final point to clinch her first age group national title.

"I knew I was playing well coming into this tournament, " McKenzie told the tennis site, 10sballs.com. "This tournament was my goal. I came out so focused. I’ve improved a lot lately and coming out today, I knew what I needed to do."

On qualifying for her first-ever Grand Slam junior event, McKenzie added: "It's a big deal to me. All the hard work has paid off. I'm so excited. (Going to New York) is going to be an amazing experience."

McKenzie also finished third in doubles with partner Ndindi Ndunda or Burke, Virginia. The unseeded duo reached the semifinals before falling to Adrian Reami and Taylor Russo of Florida 6-1, 6-3.

Tempe's Delaney Nothaft, also reached the quarterfinals in Girls 16s doubles in San Diego, pairing with Cameron Corse of Baltimore, Maryland.

To view McKenzie's Girls 16's complete results, click here.

Other top results by Southwest juniors are below: 

Boys 18s and 16s - Kalamazoo College - Kalamazoo, Mich.
Scottsdale's Nathan Ponwith reached the quarterfinals in doubles with partner Danny Kerznerman of New York. Ponwith and Kernezerman, as the No. 6 seed, reached their seeded spot, before falling to top seeds Colin Altamirano (Sacramento, Calif.) and Deiton Baughman (Carson, Calif.) 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6) in the quarterfinals.  

Girls 12s - Windward Lake Club in Alpharetta, Georgia
El Paso's Gianna Pielet reached the semifinals of the doubles, and claimed the third place match with partner Katie Volynets (Walnut Creek, Calif.). The duo won four matches at the event, but fell to the four seeds in doubles, Chidimma Okpara and Reilly Tran, but rebounded to win the third place match.

Pielet  also reached the Round of 16 in singles. 

For a full list of USTA Southwest juniors that competed in the age group national hard court events, click HERE. ​