Tiafoe, Kenin earn US Open wild cards with 18s Nationals titles

August 10, 2015 12:18 PM

By McCarton Ackerman,

Rising American stars Frances Tiafoe and Sofia Kenin overcame high-quality fields to be crowned the 2015 Boys’ and Girls’ 18s national champions. With their victories, the two earned main-draw wild cards into this year’s US Open.

The Boys’ 18s National Championship was held July 31-Aug. 9 in Kalamazoo, Mich., while the Girls’ 18s National Championship was held Aug. 1-9 in San Diego, Calif.

The top-seeded Tiafoe, 17, rallied from a break down in the final set to defeat No. 3 seed Stefan Kozlov, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. Both players received medical attention for cramps during the grueling match that lasted more than four hours. A drop volley winner from Tiafoe clinched the match as he collapsed to the court in celebration

"It's over. I have a wild card draw to the US Open. I don't have to play tennis anymore," joked Tiafoe to Michigan Live. "I had so many things going through my mind. It was such a relief. It was very tough."

This will be Tiafoe’s third appearance at the US Open. He lost in the first round of qualifying in men’s singles last year, but advanced to the semifinals of the boys’ singles event. Tiafoe (pictured above) also competed in the junior draws in 2013.

Currently ranked No. 274, Tiafoe has jumped more than 850 spots in the ATP World Tour rankings this year. He won his first pro singles title this March at the USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Futures event in Bakersfield, Calif. He also prevailed the following month in the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge by racking up more points than any other American man during a three-week stretch of Challenger tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit, earning him a main draw wild card into this year’s French Open.

In the Girls’ 18s final, No. 3 seed Kenin prevailed in a hard-fought final against No. 1 seed Tornado Alicia Black, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. The 16-year-old, ranked No. 760 on the WTA tour and No. 9 in the ITF Junior rankings, will be making her Grand Slam debut in the women’s division. Kenin, currently ranked No. 9 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, competed last year in the US Open girls’ singles and doubles draws.

The 2015 USTA International Spring Championships winner will aim to follow in the footsteps of her two predecessors as under-18 U.S. champions, Sachia Vickery in 2013 and CiCi Bellis in 2014. Both players won their first-round singles matches at the US Open.

As the tournament runners-up, Kozlov and Black will receive wild cards into the US Open qualifying draws.

Reigning Wimbledon boys’ singles champion Reilly Opelka teamed up with boys' world junior No. 1 Taylor  Fritz to win the Boys’ 18s doubles title, prevailing in the championship match over Joshua Sheehy and Parker Wynn, 6-3, 6-4. Black, the 2013 US Open girls' singles finalist, and Ingrid Neel won the Girls’ 18s doubles title over Jessie Aney and Ena Shibahara, 6-3, 6-3.

Both winning doubles teams secured main draw wild cards into the doubles draw of this year’s US Open.

Main-draw matches at the US Open run Aug. 31-Sept. 13. The qualifying draw will be contested Aug. 25-28.




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