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Clay Court Championship Week
Redlicki Earns Gold Ball in Delray Beach 16s

Michael Redlicki threw his head back, bellowed out "Come on" and then shook hands with Gordon Watson at center court after he rallied to win the USTA Boys' 16s National Clay Court Championship 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center July 25.

Boys' 16s Champion Michael Redlicki
© Lloyd Clayton, YourGameFace.com
As euphoria swept over Redlicki, it followed him wherever he went. Beside the court, people lined up to congratulate him. In the clubhouse, a couple of kids waited outside the men's locker room to ask for his autograph. Then, he returned to the court to conduct his first television interview.

Redlicki, who entered as the tournament's No. 8 seed, had gone from also-ran to champion. He went from being clay court novice to sliding surface extraordinaire. Just two weeks prior, he had not even played a match on that surface.

It was the type of performance the 16-year-old from Hawthorn Woods (Ill.) had been seeking - seven wins in a week-long national tournament to earn his first gold ball.

Using consistent power ground strokes, a serve that proved to be more effective as the match wore on and an increasingly aggressive strategy, he battled back from being down a break point. Holding serve, he wrapped it up with two aces and a service winner. In doing so, the lean 6-foot-7 Redlicki also qualified for a wildcard berth into a USTA Futures mens' singles event.

A surprising win for a No. 8 seed in the tournament? In many ways, yes. His previous best in singles' competition of a Super Series event was reaching the third round.

"I just didn't want to hold back," said Redlicki, who attends Lake Zurich High School, in the suburbs of Chicago. "I wanted to put it all on the table and see what happens. Today nice things happened. I'm really proud of myself for making that decision."

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