Clay Court Championship Week
Stewart Takes Boys 16s Title at the Beach
by Gary Curreri
, 26 July 2012
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Prior to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Boys' 16s National Clay Court Championships, Mitch Stewart had a fairly small bucket list. He wanted to win a gold ball in a USTA event and he wanted to play tennis in college.
Cross one of those off after the third-seeded Stewart dispatched 13th-seeded Baker Newman
, 6-1; 6-2 at the Delray Beach International Tennis Center on July 22.
Stewart, of Federal Way, Washington, who is ranked number 5 in the country by the USTA and ranked 9th on the AthleticDNA Class Rankings List, became the first player from his state to win a clay court boys' 16 title since the tournament began in 1967.
"This is definitely the sweetest thing," said the 16-year-old Stewart, who started playing tennis when he was 5 years old, but didn't start playing competitively until he was 11. "That was one of my first goals I wanted to achieve. It is the biggest accomplishment I have ever had in my life."
It was a case of nerves and serves for Newman, and Stewart won both. Newman, also 16 and a Miami-native, had to overcome a bout with leg cramps in the final. Both athletes were playing in their first national finals.
Stewart broke Newman's serve three times in the first set. The first break the duo battled for 18 points, and the second time Stewart outlasted Newman after 24 points to seize a 4-0 lead in the first set before they split breaks. Stewart won the first set when Newman's forehand was just wide.
"It was hugely important for me to get a big lead like that," Stewart said. "I had that one game (fourth) where I felt like I had 15 break chances, and I finally got to him. I don't know if that mentally broke him because he saved all those, but that definitely was a big game for me. A good start is always important."