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Clay Court Championship Week
Andrews Makes Herself at Home with 18s Title
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Southern Californian Gabby Andrews is comfortable in Memphis, and not just because she reached the semifinals of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Court Championships in 2010 as a 13-year-old. Andrews calls Memphis, where her father Mike grew up, her second home, and when the top seed completed her 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over unseeded Denise Starr in the final, several dozen family members, including her grandmother and great aunt, were on hand at the Racquet Club of Memphis to witness the victory.

Girls' 18s Champion Gabby Andrews
© ZooTennis.com
That family reunion looked like it might not happen at all when Andrews dropped the first set of her first match to Julia Casselbury on Monday, but she recovered to claim a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. After that win, the 14-year-old from Pomona, Calif. kept her time on the court to a minimum - a huge advantage in the stifling heat and humidity that engulfed the area all week - earning straight-set wins in her next five matches.

In contrast, Starr was spending extra hours on the Har-Tru, with five of the eight matches she played during the tournament going three sets, including her second round upset of No. 2 seed and 2010 finalist Whitney Kay. In both Starr's quarterfinal win over No. 7 seed Samantha Crawford and her semifinal win over No. 9 seed Stephanie Vlad, the 16-year-old New Yorker fought back after dropping the first set. Against Vlad, Starr trailed 3-0 in the final set before her nothing-to-lose mentality earned her six straight games, a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 victory, and a place in her first USTA National Championship final.

Andrews' semifinal contest with No. 3 seed Danielle Collins was equally compelling, at least in the first set. Andrews and Collins, the Winter National and Spring National 18s champions respectively, played 75 minutes before Andrews took a tiebreaker seven points to five. But Collins, who was recovering from a recent bout of mononucleosis, began to fade physically, and could not continue, retiring when trailing 5-1 in the second set. In obvious pain, she was taken to a local hospital by ambulance where she was tested, diagnosed with an enlarged spleen, treated and released.

Although Sunday's final was scheduled for 9:30 a.m., the heat and humidity had already made the search for shade a top priority for the spectators, most of whom were supporting Andrews due to her Memphis connection.

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Page updated on Friday, February 21, 2014
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