Clay Court Championship Week
New York's Steven Sun shines in Winston-Salem
by Ali Jones
, 23 July 2013
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Steven Sun, affectionately known as "The Machine" at his club, started a bit off-kilter and got down 5-3 in the first set, and again 2-0 in the second of the 2013 National Clay Court Championship finals.
Just as an engine sometimes sputters, Sun momentarily stalled, but a quick reboot allowed him to prevail over Blue Chip Brandon Nakashima
"I'm very proud of him, not because he won, but because of all his hard work," said Helen Sun, Steven's mother.
The champion, a young man of very few words who let his game do the talking, simply said he felt "great" and "amazing" now that he achieved his goal of winning a gold ball for 2013.
"Brandon has a very solid game," Sun said. "It was a grind and he played really well. To win, I had to keep the ball deep and stick to my game plan."
The tournament was held at Hanes Park - home of the Randy Pate Tennis Academy (RPTA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Tournament Director and RPTA Director of Tennis Patrick Hieber gave Sun a slight edge over Nakashima because of his build and power, and believed that if Sun can pick the right moment to "pull the trigger," he would have a very good chance in the finals.
"I should sound very smart now, as I had pretty much predicted Steven would dominate with his forehand," Hieber said with a smile. "The first set went back and forth. Both of them had trouble holding serve, wavering back and forth, but in the tie-breaker Steven found his form. In the second set he started dominating with his big lefty forehand."
Sun, from Glen Cove, New York, is a five-star recruit who is ranked 48th in the Class of 2018 and top three in his USTA age division. He had a phenomenal first half of 2013 and peaked at just the right time for the Clays.
He won the silver draw of the Spring Supernationals after losing in the Round of 16; won back-to-back 14s local championships in straight sets; won the 12s Omaha National Open, losing only four games the entire tournament; and was runner-up at a 14s Regional Segment, losing the third set in a 10-8 tie-breaker.