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Clay Court Championship Week
Wildcard Hayley Carter Wins 16s Clays

Special from the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, HRVarsity.com
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This wild card trumped 'em all.

Unseeded Hayley Carter, who wasn't sure she'd be allowed into the tournament less than a week before it began, emerged with a hard-earned trophy and USTA gold ball in the steamy Girls' 16 National Clay Court Championships.

Girls' 16s Champion Hayley Carter
© Doug Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Carter, from Columbia, S.C., overcame third-seeded Jamie Loeb 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 in the championship match July 25, ending a week of heat that broke or approached records for mid-to-late July in southeastern Virginia.

Given her first serves that zoomed in at triple-digit miles per hour, excellent footwork and rocket forehand, it was hard to believe Carter - last year's USTA National 14s champion - was not among the 32 seeds in the field of 192. Since she didn't turn 15 until May 17, she lacked many 16s credentials, but USTA officials gave her a spot in the bracket.

Much like Wimbledon officials' decision to provide Goran Ivanisevic a wild card to the All England Club in 2001 --when he won the only Grand Slam singles title of his career - the USTA's decision proved prescient.

"I just aged up and had to get a wild card just to get into the thing," she said.

Considering how temperatures were near or above 100 for much of the event at Virginia Beach Tennis & Country Club, the hardy players did an excellent job handling the conditions. None of the six girls remaining on the last day appeared too gassed, but Carter described her experience during a 6-4, 6-1 semifinal victory over unseeded Jillian Rooney of Boston, compared to the championship match.

"It was a really hard week," said Carter, who trains at the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy at Hilton Head Island, S.C., and is ranked No. 2 nationally among rising 10th-graders by tennisrecruiting.net.

In the semifinal "I was really sick. I was really shaky and had a lot of goose bumps. But I got a lot of liquids in me, felt a lot better (against Loeb) and came out strong. I served really well and hit my forehand really well."

Loeb, a 15-year-old New Yorker from the Westchester County town of Ossining - protgaonist Don Draper's home in A&E's "Mad Men" - provided enough drama, intensity and guts to make for a good TV series. Seeded third, she saved three match points to overcome No. 5 Desirae Krawczyk 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in a memorable semifinal.

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Page updated on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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