The top U.S. girls’ 18s and 16s players will converge on San Diego starting this weekend for the USTA National Hardcourts with a main draw spot in the US Open on the line. It all takes place at the Barnes Tennis Center and for the third year the event combines both the 18s and 16s.
The USTA recognizes the National Championships in August as the most prestigious national event they hold for juniors during the year. Over the years, winners of the Girls’ 16 and 18 Championships have included Lindsay Davenport, Lisa Raymond, Jennifer Capriati and Tracy Austin, but the tournament has become even more of a stepping stone to success in recent years.
Once again this year Marcia Frost will on-site as the tournament press aide and will update daily with scores and draws. Check back to www.scta.usta
for periodic updates. She filed the following information on the top players competing in each of the divisions.
Last year’s finalist, Nicole Gibbs, went on to her second year at Stanford and became only the third player in history to capture both the singles and doubles at the NCAA Championships. The 2009 Girls’ 18 champion Christina McHale has made her way to the top 30 in the world and recently represented the United States at the London Olympics. The 2008 third-place finisher Irina Falconi turned a successful run at Georgia Tech University into a growing professional career, bringing her ranking up to 104 in a short time. Melanie Oudin, who has placed in singles and doubles in recent years, is on the border of the top 100 in the world.
One of the most impressive past players of junior tennis in recent years is returning to go for the top prize. Last year, 15-year-old Taylor Townsend created quite the buzz as she took fourth place in the Girls’ 18s last year, upsetting third-seeded Madison Keys along the way. This year the Georgia teen returns as the No. 2 seed. She is also bringing with her singles and doubles (with Gabrielle Andrews) trophies from the Australian Junior Open Championships.
Receiving top-seeding at the USTA Girls’ 18 USTA National Championships is the Santa Ana native who beat Townsend in last year’s third-place playoff. Krista Hardebeck comes back to see if she can get the wildcard into the U.S. Open women’s singles draw by winning the Nationals before she goes off to attend Stanford University. Rounding out the top seeding for the Girls’ 18s are: 3. Samantha Crawford, 4. Allie Kiick, 5. Mayo Hibi, 6. Sachia Vickery, 7. Chalena Scholl, 8. Brooke Austin, 9. Jamie Loeb and 10. Christina Makarova, the hometown favorite from San Diego.
This year none of the top seeds are wildcards. The 18s wildcards were given to Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer, Rima Asatrian, Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum, Hayley Carter, Lynn Chi, Yuki Chiang, Liz Jeukeng, Rachel Nelson, Kassandra Orozco, and Katrine Steffensen.
The situation is the same in the 16s, where wildcards were given to Mary Haffey, Isabella Heidenreich, Kelly Schaffer and Caroline Xie. The top seed in that event is Jessica Ho. The Wexford, Pa., player made it to the quarterfinals of the consolation last year after losing in the second round to eventual winner Peggy Porter. This year the 2011 Molden Family Sportsmanship Award winner returns to the tournament with titles from the USTA National Winter Championships and the USTA International Spring Championships.
Behind Ho in the seeding are: 2. Kimberly Yee, 3. Kaitlyn McCarthy, 4. Ellyse Hamlin, 5. Chloe Ouellet-Pizer, 6. Katerina Stewart, 7. Francesca Dilorenzo, 8. Meredith Xepoleas, 9. Caroline Lampl and 10. Andie Daniell.
The USTA Girls’ 16 & 18 Nationals is once again being run by tournament directors Liz Blum and Ellen Ehlers, in conjunction with Youth Tennis San Diego. The George E. Barnes Family Jr. Tennis Center in San Diego, which has a large stadium in addition to 21 outdoor hard courts, will be the main site. During the first few days some courts at nearby San Diego State University and the University of San Diego will also be used. The Mission Valley Hilton continues as the host hotel.
With almost 400 girls descending on San Diego for 10 days, it takes an enormous amount of volunteers and sponsors to keep things running smoothly. Among those offering their support this year are: Wilson Sporting Goods, Babolat Corporation, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, Broadway Federal Bank, Luna Bars, Siggi's Yogurt, See's Candies, Einstein Bagels and the San Diego Sports Commission. Visit the sponsors' webpage for a full list.
The 2012 USTA Girls’ Nationals will begin at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, California, on August 4th with the 16 and under age group, followed by the 18s starting the next day. You can follow the tournament @USTAGirls on Twitter, USTA Girls 16 & 18 Nationals on Facebook and on the official website, http://www.ustagirlsnationals.com
. Additional information will follow in the days to come and releases will be issued each day when play has been complete.