Clay Court Championship Week
Collins Claims Girls 18s Clay Court Championship
by Colette Lewis
, 27 July 2012
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With her focus on senior activities and graduating with her class at Northeast High in St. Petersburg, Fla. in June, Danielle Collins didn't play a tournament for five months.
Yet when Collins returned to the Girls 18s Clay Court Championships
in Memphis for the fifth time, the sixteenth seed showed few signs of rust, claiming her third singles gold ball in the 18s division with a 6-1, 6-4 win over fourth-seeded Jamie Loeb
in the final.
Collins did have a scare in the second round against Jessica Ho, who was unseeded despite her No. 1 ranking in the USTA's 16s division. Ho served for the match twice in the second set and led 4-1 in the third before Collins came back to post a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory.
"I had such a close first match and I almost wasn't able to pull it out," said the 18-year-old, who will be joining the University of Florida Gators next month. "So to be able to come back from that and get better each match, improve, that was my goal the whole tournament. I was able to reach my goal and it's a great feeling."
Collins also fought back from a set down against unseeded Louisa Chirico in the quarterfinals, citing her physical strength as a key factor in that 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 win.
"I had a lot of confidence going into that second set because I had pulled one out before," Collins said. "I changed my game plan a little, and once I slowed down the pace a little bit, I kind of wore her out."
Temperatures in the high 90s and suffocating humidity resulted in heat advisories during most of the tournament, but Collins was in a much better place health-wise than in 2011, when she was admitted to the emergency room with a full body cramp after retiring to Gabby Andrews in the semifinals. Recovering from a bout of mononucleosis then, Collins was experiencing excessive sweating, but this year against the top-seeded Andrews, also in the semifinals, Collins kept her time on court short, thoroughly dominating in a 6-3, 6-0 victory.