by Rick Vach, ustaflorida.com
Florida's Sajous Finishes Final 4, Strode Wins US Open National Playoffs
Blake Strode lived-up to his top seeding in the final of the US Open National Playoffs on Sunday, defeating No. 2 seed Cecil Mamiit 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1). With the win Strode earns a spot in the 2010 US Open qualifying draw come August.
In the semifinals Florida's Olivier Sajous of Plantation lost to Strode 6-3, 6-0.
Strode, 23, of St. Louis, deferred Harvard Law School in 2009 to pursue a professional tennis career, a move that paid off in a victory by winning the USTA Southwest Sectional Playoffs Qualifying Tournament. An All-American for the University of Arkansas, he was also a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Strode earned a wildcard into the US Open qualifying tournament last year and also won his first professional title last year on the USTA Pro Circuit, and peaked at No. 483 in the world this month.
The final was shown live on the Tennis Channel, as will be next Sunday's women's US Open National Playoffs final.
The 2010 US Open qualifying tournament will be held Aug. 24-27, 2010, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., prior to the US Open.
Floridians Win at USTA Boys' 18's & 16's National Clay Court Chps. in Delray Beach
Winners were crowned on Sunday at the USTA Boys' 18's & 16's National Clay Court Championships hosted by the City of Delray Beach. Top-seeded Bjorn Fratangelo of Pittsburg, who trains at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton, won the Boys' 18 singles title, defeating unseeded Alexios Halebian of Glendale, Calif., 6-4, 7-5. Frantangelo almost made it a double, reaching the doubles final as the No. 2 seed with Nathan Pasha, losing to the top-seeded team of Emmett Egger and Shane Vinsant 6-0, 3-2, ret. (ill).
Texas' Vinsant won the Boys' 18 Singles 3rd/4th playoff, defeating Ross Guignon of Kansas 6-2, 6-1.
Illinois' six-foot-seven Michael Redlicki won the Boys' 16 title, beating Naples' Gordon Watson 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 9 seeds Andrew Butz of Vero Beach and Zachary Katz of Boca Raton won the Boys' 18 Doubles 3rd/4th playoffs, beating Rickey Baylon and Ace Matias 6-1, 6-2.
No. 5 seeds Thai Kwiatkowski and Nicholas Naumann won the Boys' 16 Doubles playoffs, defeating No. 8 Nolan Paige and Aaron Revzin 6-3, 6-1.
Halebian and Kwiatkowski train at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.
Florida's Black Wins USTA Girls' 14 National Clay Court Chps.; Floridians at 12s
Tornado Ali Black of Boca Raton, Fla., at 12 years old won the USTA Girls' 14 National Clay Court Championships in Plantation, Fla. She was one of 256 girls competed for the title from all over the U.S., in the final defeating highly-touted Bollettieri product Maria Shiskina 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4).
The two girls, who formerly trained together at Bollettieri's, argued over line calls and exchanged words throughout the match.
Although she lost the match, Shiskina told the Sun-Sentinel she can see the two renewing their rivalry in years to come on the pro tour.
"Definitely," Shishkina said. "I will beat her all the time. I am confident."
Tornado trains with Rick Macci in Boca Raton and in the USTA Player Development program.
Black won the USTA Girls' 12 Spring Nationals last year at 10 years old, also as a wildcard.
Floridians also placed at the USTA Girls' 12 National Clay Courts in Boca Raton, and the USTA Boys' 12 Clay Courts in Winston Salem, NC.
In the Girls' 12 final, Port St. Lucie's Cristina Rovira defeated Pembroke Pines' Sofia Kenin 6-2, 7-5. Wesley Chapel's Star Makarome won the third place Bronze Ball. At the Boys' 12s, Noah Makarome and Adam Ambrozy were the lone Florida players to reach the quarterfinals.
No. 10 seed Javier Restrepo of Miami won the third place Bronze Ball at the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale in the USTA Boys' 14 National Clay Court Championships. Top-seeded Daniel Kerznerman of Brooklyn, who trains at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, won his first national title in Boys' 14 singles.
Addison and Laurente Win Girls' 18 Clay Court Doubles Chp.
The unseeded team of Breaunna Addison of Boca Raton and Kelsey Laurente of Miramar won the USTA Girls' 18 National Clay Court Championships doubles title with a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 7 seeds Katie Goepel and Blair Shankle.
"I think when one of us isn't playing so well, the other one can pick her up," Addison told zootennis.com. "I'd start getting nervous and she would come through for me, and when she got nervous, it'd be vice versa."
Addison and Laurente were the champion and finalist at the Dunlop Orange Bowl 16s in December 2009.
"We help each other out," Laurente said. "My coach says my game is better on hardcourts, but I just love sliding on clay."