MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – A pair of 15-year-olds from the United States, Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., and Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., captured the Australian Open junior girlsâ€™ doubles title on Friday by defeating Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.
Townsend and Andrews have known each other since they were 8-year-olds in tennis camp and have been friendsÂ since. â€œThey used to bring us out into the Home Depot Center and they have the eight high-performance camps and so they brought people from all over,â€ Townsend said.Â â€œWe just decided to play doubles. Easter Bowl was the first time when we were 14.â€
Earlier in the day Townsend advanced to the junior girlsâ€™ final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Krista HardebeckÂ of Santa Ana, Calif., in a 90-minute slugfest.
â€œShe played really well, I came out playing really well,â€ Townsend said. â€œI went up, 2-0, and then she came back and got up, 3-2, and then from there it was really tight and no one could really break serve. A lot of return errors really killed me because she was holding serve and holding serves at love, because I was missing my second serve returns.
â€œI stayed in the points and I was just fighting at the end. She gave me some free shots, I hit some good shots, good severs, when I needed them. I made sure to keep coming into the net. I couldnâ€™t stop doing that. And in the second set I think I did that more than in the first.â€
Hardebeck, 17, defeatedÂ Townsend last week in the Loy Yang Traralgon International quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, and went on to win the tournament.
â€œI was really excited about it,â€Â Hardebeck said of that win. â€œI actually played Taylor last week and I beat her there. It was a great match and a great week there. This week was pretty good as well, so Iâ€™m happy.â€
Townsend said: â€œThe biggest thing for me was that I competed today. Last week, I feel like I kind of less settled because it was a warm-up tournament quarterfinals like. It was very very tough conditions. It was windy outside.â€
â€œBut today I definitely came out really hard and that was the biggest thing keeping myself pumped.â€
Townsend led off the match with a break of serve and Hardebeck returned the favor in the fourth game. Both held serve until the tiebreak, which Townsend won, 7-3, by playing aggressive tennis. She ended the tiebreak with an ace.
The second set saw HardebeckÂ take a 4-2 lead and in the sixth game of the match she saved four break points.Â It looked as though Hardebeck was going to send the match to a third set.Â But Townsend picked up her game by mixing up baseline and net play and won the next four games in a row to win the match, 7-6, 6-4.
Towsend served seven aces in the match in contrast to Hardebeckâ€™sÂ seven double faults.
â€œMy serve was a little bit shaky today,â€ Hardebeck said. â€œIt wasnâ€™t in its best form but Taylor played really well, so there really wasnâ€™t much I can do anyway.â€
Townsend will face the Russian Yulia Putintseva for the junior girlsâ€™ title Saturday.
â€œSheâ€™s a very tough opponent, very competitive,â€ Townsend said. â€œShe tries to get in your head with â€˜câ€™monâ€™sâ€™ to pump herself up. She kind of plays better when sheâ€™s down. Iâ€™m going to have to keep the pressure on her and keep playing my game and being aggressive and, hopefully, Iâ€™ll come out on top.â€
Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.
This article originally appeared in the Straight Sets Tennis Blog of the New York Times.