Tommy Paul Takes Second National 16s Title
by Colette Lewis
, 15 August 2013
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Tommy Paul arrived in Kalamazoo as the 16s Clay Court champion in singles and doubles, and when the wet week was over, Paul left the USTA National Championships with a third gold ball, winning the 16s singles championship with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over his friend and roommate Jake DeVine.
Rain caused problems for the tournament from the outset, with the opening round of singles rained out, and heavy rain midweek causing the quarterfinals to be pushed back a day. The final four days of the tournament were beautiful however, with partly cloudy skies, low humidity and mild temperatures.
Paul, the No. 3 seed, dropped only two sets in his seven victories, and he said his sweep of the 16s Clay Court titles and two ITF championships earlier in the summer had given him a huge reservoir of confidence.
"After the two ITFs, I felt really confident going into the Clays," said Paul. "Now after Clays, I'm even more confident. It helps me keep going."
Paul had a difficult quarterfinal match with friend Reilly Opelka, who also trains at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Paul served for the match in the second set, but was unable to close it out, eventually recording a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2 victory.
Trailing 3-0 in the second set of his semifinal with No. 2 seed Francis Tiafoe, Paul looked to be heading to three sets again, but using the depth and consistency of his baseline game, Paul won six of the last seven games to post a 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 15-year-old from Maryland.
In the final, Paul was facing another USTA National Training Center friend, the fourth-seeded DeVine, who had overwhelmed top seed Sameer Kumar 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals. Paul and DeVine were actually sharing a hotel room during the week, and although both were determined to keep their off-court friendship from spilling over to Court 1 at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium, the atmosphere was subdued as play began on Championship Sunday.