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Clay Court Championship Week
Tarheel Hero Kodali Takes 12s Clays
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Down a set and 5-3, Anudeep Kodali was unflustered. He pumped himself up, moved his feet and used his ever-reliable forehand to put away the few short balls that came his way.

Boys' 12s Champion Anudeep Kodali
© Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Nathan Ponwith, up a set and serving for the match, valiantly fended off the unrelenting Kodali, whose survival instincts kicked into a higher gear when threatened with defeat.

"They fought and fought and fought," said tournament director Chris Cagle. "It came down to the player who was able to execute a better point at the right time."

Three hours and 15 minutes later, in a match with as many momentum swings as the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon 2009 finals, North Carolina's hometown pride, Anudeep Kodali, emerged victorious. He won his first USTA gold ball at the Boys 12s Claycourts National Championships 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6).

Perhaps the long week had taken its toll physically on both boys as each went the distance in the tournament, making the finals in both singles and doubles. Both players said that their first-serve percentages were a bit off for the finals as they traded breaks throughout. Kodali was broken three times in the first set to give Arizona's Ponwith the first set 6-4.

Clearly, Ponwith came in with an aggressive game plan to show off his natural talent and variety. He's got a beautifully crafted game and quick and easy movement on the court. In the spring at Delray Beach Clay Court Championships Ponwith lost to Kodali in straight sets 7-5, 7-5 and obviously, the hope coming into the Winston Salem final was to reverse that stat.

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