McCarthy Sweeps Titles, Orkin Claims First Gold Ball at USTA 18s National Spring Championships
by Colette Lewis
, 22 March 2013
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A year after the Midwest section swept the boys and girls 18s National Spring Championships' singles titles, the Southern section did the same, with Elliott Orkin of Marietta, Georgia and Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, North Carolina taking home what is likely the last gold balls awarded by the tournament, in its ninth year at the Mobile Tennis Center.
With the 18s Spring Nationals absent from the newly approved 2014 USTA Junior Competition schedule, the two exciting finals provided a noteworthy finale, with both Orkin and McCarthy coming from a set down to claim victory. Orkin defeated No. 6 seed Roy Lederman
2-6, 6-3, 5-3 ret., while McCarthy downed top seed and defending champion Brooke Austin
7-5, 5-7, 6-2.
The weather was unusually cool and windy during the week, but rain delayed play only once, so the challenging conditions were primarily confined to the gusty breezes.
Orkin, the No. 3 seed, had never reached the semifinal round of a USTA Level 1 before, but the 18-year-old showed no sign of inexperience once he got there, defeating top seed David Hsu 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 with relentless consistency during the second and third sets.
Lederman had his own notable semifinal victory, coming from 5-1 down in the third set against fellow Florida wild card Alexandru Gozun to escape with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 win. Gozun, who had beaten No. 2 seed Thomas Fawcett in the round of 32, didn't hold a match point against Lederman, despite serving for the match twice.
In the final, Lederman started well, even though he was experiencing discomfort from a wrist injury that had kept him out of competition since December's Orange Bowl. Orkin didn't blame his slow start on nerves, but rather on the windy conditions, and he knew exactly when the pendulum swung in his favor.
"Coming out in the first set, the wind was blowing and I was just making a lot of unforced errors, and he was as well. I don't think either of us played our best games," said Orkin. "In the second set, I saved break points in my first service games and broke him, and that's when the momentum really shifted and I started playing a lot better."
Serving a 2-3 in the second set, Orkin was down 15-40, but saved both of those break points with big forehands. Lederman was unable to capitalize on two more break points in that game, and he knew, given his physical limitations, that he had let an important chance slip away.
"I was up a set 3-2, 15-40 on his serve, and I just lost it mentally," said Lederman. "I didn't move my feet on the break points I had, I hit short, and he took advantage of the points and won four straight games. My wrist was hurting pretty bad, but I was going to tough it out - I was not going to stop from my wrist hurting - but then I started cramping in my legs, and I can't deal with the pain of cramping, it's the worst. It happens to me all the time and I couldn't move."