Crawford, Peliwo Win US Open Junior Titles
by Colette Lewis
, 14 September 2012
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Canada's Filip Peliwo had played in more junior slam finals than American Samantha Crawford had entered, yet when a challenging weather week in New York drew to a close, both had claimed US Open Junior titles.
The 17-year-old Crawford, playing in only her third junior slam tournament, was an unseeded wild card, but she was already comfortable in New York after qualifying
for the women's main draw ten days before the junior event began.
"I think I got used to the courts and felt like I was playing well," Crawford said. "I was going into the juniors with a little more confidence, so I think that helped."
Crawford's two three-set victories in the qualifying also prepared her for what was to come in the junior tournament, with three of her matches going the distance, including two on Thursday, when the juniors played their second and third rounds to make up for two days of rain.
After defeating No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5 in the second round, Crawford dropped every game in the opening set of her next match a few hours later before coming back to defeat No. 8 seed Sachia Vickery of the US 0-6, 6-1, 6-3.
"My goal was just to get one game," Crawford said of her slow start against Vickery. "From then on I just built from that."
Crawford left the court in a wheelchair due to cramping after that match, but she didn't require any medical attention, and had another day of recovery when her opponent in the quarterfinal, No. 2 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, did not receive medical clearance to play due to heart issues.
"I was ready to play, but it happens," said the 6-foot-2 Crawford, who trains at the USTA Boca Raton National Center, but still considers Atlanta her home. "It was a long day for a lot of us."
The humidity and gusty winds during her semifinal contest with No. 4 seed Antonia Lottner of Germany on Saturday produced a healthy dose of shanks and double faults, but Crawford again found her game in the final two sets, at one stage winning ten games in a row in her 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory.
That win earned Crawford a place in the final against No. 12 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who, although nearly a year younger, had considerably more experience in ITF Junior competition and had reached the semifinals at both the Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior championships this year.
Kontaveit, the reigning Orange Bowl champion
, had defeated top seed Taylor Townsend
in the quarterfinals and USTA National 18s
champion Vicky Duval
in the semifinals without the loss of a set, and in the championship match, she came out blasting winners in front of a small crowd on Court 11.