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Winter Nationals Week
Californians Failla and Huang Take 18s Titles

A pair of Californians - Jessica Failla of Ramona and Austen Huang of Elk Grove - won their first national singles titles on Jan. 2 at the USTA National Winter Championships in Mesa, Ariz.

Girls 18s Champion Jessica Failla
© Shelby Payne, USTA Central Arizona
Failla, a freshman at Southern Cal, felt her biggest challenge was the pressure of facing dangerous younger opponents. She defeated Alyvia Jones of Midland, Mich. - the No. 8 player in the class of 2018 - 6-3 6-1 in the girls 18 final.

"For sure, that's lot of pressure playing people who are freshmen and sophomores in high school, but that's something I've learned that can't cross your mind when you're on the court," Failla said. "This will help me in my upcoming college season to help me to focus on just playing the game and not the score or opponent."

Failla, the No. 8 player in the 2015 class, was seeded ninth, but so low only because she hadn't played a junior tournament in six months. She was considered one of the favorites and dropped only one set, to Darya Possokhova, a Boston College commit, in the round of 32.

There was less pressure on Huang, the No. 8 boys seed. Huang admitted that he would've been happy to reach the quarterfinals, matching his performance last year in the 16 division. But this year, he didn't have a set closer than 6-3 until the final, where he defeated No. 1 seed William Genesen of Tulsa, Okla., 6-3, 0-6, 6-1 for the boys 18 championship. Genesen is committed to Stanford.

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Page updated on Monday, March 09, 2020
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