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John McNally, Alaina Miller Capture 16s Singles Titles At USTA International Spring Championships
John McNally, USA, winner of boys 16 singles, photo By Cynthia Lum / USTA
CARSON, Calif., (April 5, 2014) – No matter how hard he tried during the latter stages of his Boys’ 16s finals match at the 10th annual USTA International Spring Championships on Saturday, Cincinnati’s John McNally could not get rid of haunting memories of letting a huge USTA national title slip away from him like he did at last year’s ASICS Easter Bowl.
McNally, who held a championship point and was one point away from a gold ball before falling to Connor Hance last April in the 14s finals at the USTA Spring Nationals in Rancho Mirage, did his best to put that memory behind him, ultimately beating No. 11-seeded Patrick Kypson of Greenville, N.C., 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, to win the Boys’ 16s at the StubHub Center.
“I was serving for it and I started having nightmares of last year’s Easter Bowl where I had a match point but I blew it,” said McNally, 15, who had to call for a trainer up 6-5 in the third set to work on a bad blister on his right foot. “My entire right foot is one big blister. It hurt when I pushed off. It feels like there’s liquid in it but there’s not.”
He continued: “I thought on the changeover to just come out and try to win the first point and take it one point at a time and see what happens. Patrick is a very, very, very good player and he’s going to have a very bright future.”
McNally wasn’t done there, also capturing the 16s doubles title later in the day with partner Gianni Ross of Burr Ridge, Ill., over Kypson and Trent Bryde of Suwanee, Ga., 6-2, 7-5.
Fifteen-year-old Alaina Miller of Saratoga, Calif., the No. 16-seeded player in the Girls’ 16s, used an effective two-handed forehand to beat hometown favorite and No. 13 seeded Kalani Soli of Carson, Calif., 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (3), in the Girls’ 16 final.
“It was a nail-biter,” said Miller, coached by former SoCal junior and UC-Berkeley player J.P. Fruterro.
Miller was down 5-6 and serving and found herself down love-30 before digging deep and forcing a tiebreaker against Soli, who had about 25 area residents cheering her on. “I try not to show too much emotion,” said Miller after the match. “I found out working with my mental coach that if I don’t show emotion good or bad, then I play my best. Because if I’m saying, ‘Come On’, and that stuff I just don’t feel like that’s me. So I just try and keep it neutral.”
Miller said her mental coach has taught her to think of a song in times of duress. “When things are bad, I turn up the volume in my head and try to block out all of my thoughts and focus on the song,” she said, adding she was listening to Michael Jackson’s “Baby Be Mine” in her head during her most trying times on court.
“It was tough,” a positive Soli said afterward. “I think I was playing defense too much. With her two-handed forehand she hits really flat so it’s hard to get it back.”
Soli lives just down the street from the USTA Training Center-West but trains 15 miles away at the La Habra Tennis Center and is currently home schooled using K-12 Online school.
In the Boys’ 18s final on Sunday at 9 a.m., it will be top-seeded Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Md., against Naoki Nakagawa, the No. 2-seeded player from Fukuoka, Japan, who has been training at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., for the past four years. Nakagawa ousted local Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-1.
In the Girls’ 18s final on Sunday also at 9 a.m. that, like the boys’ final, will be streamed live at www.usta.com/isc, No. 5-seeded CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., will take on Raveen Kingsley of Fulton, Md.
In the Boys’ 18s doubles final, Tommy Paul of Coconut Creek, Fla., and Henrik Wiersholm of Kirkland, Wash., downed William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., and Alex Rybakov of Coral Springs, Fla., 6-4, 6-2.
In the Girls’ 18s final former Australian Open junior doubles champion Gabby Andrews of Pomona, and partner Sandra Samir of Irvine, Calif., beat Francesca Dilorenzo of New Albany, Ohio, and Caroline Dolehide of Hinsdale, Ill., 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.
For a complete run down of Saturday’s scores and updated draws, as well as live streaming, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.
Boys’ 18 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Tiafoe, Francis (1) (College Park, MD) def. Kerznerman, Daniel (9) (Brooklyn, NY) 6-1, 6-1
Nakagawa, Naoki (2) def. Fritz, Taylor (7) (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) 6-4, 6-1
Boys’ 18 Doubles (Final Round)
Paul, Tommy (Coconut Creek, FL) / Wiersholm, Henrik (3) (Kirkland, WA) def. Blumberg, William (Greenwich, CT) / Rybakov, Alex (7) (Coral Springs, FL) 6-4, 6-2
Boys’ 16 Singles (Final Round)
McNally, John (9) (Cincinnati, OH) def. Kypson, Patrick (11) (Greenville, NC) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
Boys’ 16 Doubles (Final Round)
McNally, John (Cincinnati, OH) / Ross, Gianni (6) (Burr Ridge, IL) def. Bryde, Trent (Suwanee, GA) / Kypson, Patrick (8) (Greenville, NC) 6-2, 7-5