Newport Beach’s Ashley Kratzer wins U.S. National championship

Newport Beach's Ashley Kratzer rips this backhand during the championship match of the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships Sunday, Aug. 13, at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. PHOTO COURTESY OF USTA
Newport Beach’s Ashley Kratzer rips this backhand during the championship match of the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships Sunday, Aug. 13, at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. PHOTO COURTESY OF USTA

Coming into this week’s USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships, Newport Beach’s Ashley Kratzer did not envision winning the hard court title at the Barnes Tennis Center.

But the unexpected happened on Sunday afternoon as the third-seeded Kratzer, 18, finished an incredible tournament run by defeating 33rd seeded Kelly Chen of Cerritos, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to win the 18s national championship and earn a USTA gold ball and a wild card into the U.S. Open.

After splitting the first two sets, Kratzer gained control of the third set with two early service breaks to establish a 4-0 lead. Chen, to the delight of the cheering crowd, fought back with two service breaks of her own and tied the set at 4-4.

In the ninth game, Kratzer regained momentum as she held serve at love for a 5-4 lead. As Chen served to stay in the match, Kratzer dropped only a single point and broke serve to close out the match.

“It feels absolutely amazing. I was not expecting to win the whole tournament. I set a goal just to get to the semis,” Kratzer said after winning the title. “To actually win is amazing.  I was playing some of my best tennis. I’m so excited to be in the US Open. It’s always been a dream of mine. I’m really looking forward to that.”

The newly-crowned Girls’ 18s singles champion enjoyed playing before the large crowd that packed Stadium Court and she was well aware that Sunday’s final was being broadcast to a national television audience on Tennis Channel.

“It was a little nerve-wracking at first. I was a little nervous. It was really cool that Tennis Channel was here,” she said. “It’s nice to see that (girls’) tournaments are now being televised. It was an amazing tournament. I thought the crowd was awesome. All and all it was a good experience.”

Kratzer advanced to the final after defeating Hailey Wilcox, 6-3, 6-2; Amber O’Dell, 6-2, 6-4; Marley Zein, 6-3, 6-2; Elysia Bolton, 6-4, 6-0 and Michaela Gordon, 7-5, 7-5, before ousting defending French Open Juniors champion Whitney Osuigwe, 7-6, 6-0, in the semifinals.

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