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Championship Week
Kenin Returns, Finishes the Job at Girls 18s

Sofia Kenin didn't keep her eye on the prize. In fact, she did everything in her power to avoid even thinking about it.

Kenin was "devastated" last year when she lost in the semifinals of the USTA Girls 18s Nationals.

She realized how close she came to receiving a coveted wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open women's singles event.

Kenin, 16, returned to nationals this year determined to keep a single-minded focus and not look ahead in the draw.

The strategy worked to perfection as the third-seeded Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., outlasted top-seeded Tornado Alicia Black of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 to capture the singles title in San Diego.

"It's so amazing. A lot of girls want this U.S. Open wild card and I am just so happy I was able to get it," Kenin said. "I knew the wild card was on the line, but I tried not to think about it when I was playing because I don't think I would have played as good."

Kenin and Black battled for more than three hours on the main court at the Barnes Tennis Center.

Kenin trailed 2-1 in the first set before winning five straight games to capture the set.

Kenin served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Black won 12 of the next 15 points to extend the match to a deciding set.

Black held a 4-2 lead in the third set before Kenin rallied to win the next three games for a 5-4 lead.

Black broke Kenin to even the set at 5-5, but Kenin swept the final two games to capture the title.

"I was just playing hard and trying to fight for every point and try to play my game," Kenin said. "I tried to go in with an open mind. I just wanted be aggressive and move her around. I didn't want to give her any chances. I tried to hit drop shots because she doesn't like the drop shot."

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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