Clay Court Championship Week
Paul Pulls Out Win in Boys 16s
by Gary Curreri
, 25 July 2013
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Tommy Paul won more than national bragging rights with his 6-2; 6-4 victory over Reilly Opelka in the finals of the recent USTA Boys' 16 National Clay Court Championships at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.
Paul, 16, also gets bragging rights with his roommates at the USTA Training Center
in Boca Raton who took all four spots in the semifinals. Paul, the sixth seed in the tourney, dispatched Opelka in a little more than hour after defeating his other roommate and doubles partner, Alex Rybakov
, in three sets in the semifinals, 6-1; 3-6; 6-3.
Originally from North Carolina, Paul has trained at the Boca Raton facility for the past three years. He teamed with Rybakov later in the day to win the doubles title over Taylor Fritz (Santa Fe, California) and Daniel Gealer (Los Angeles, CA), 6-4; 7-5 to win his sixth gold ball of his career. It was his first national singles title since he captured the Boys 12s National Clay Court championship.
"This is a pretty big win," said Paul, who lost in the round of 64 in last year's tournament. "I didn't have any big wins last year. I was in a bit of a slump, not doing terrible, but just not getting any wins. I have been playing pretty well as of late. This is one of the biggest tournament wins I have ever had for sure."
Paul set the tone early as he opened the match by breaking Opelka in the opening game and then held his serve to go up 2-0. Opelka held serve to close to within 2-1 before Paul broke Opelka twice more to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Opelka held serve at love as he painted the line on Paul's approach and made it 5-2 before Paul closed out the first set when Opelka hit long at 40-30.
"I don't think I did a good job today with my serve," Opelka said. "I did okay, but I think I could have done better. He played really well for sure and he returned my serve well, and I think that was the key to the match for him."
Paul agreed that his return of serve against the 6-foot, 7-inch Opelka in the first set was key.