Black and Tiafoe Claim ITF Pan American Titles in Tulsa
by Colette Lewis
, 17 October 2013
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The field for the International Tennis Federation's Grade B1 Pan American Closed can draw competitors from as far north as Canada and as far south as Argentina. But this year, all four titles belonged to Americans, with Tornado Alicia Black beating compatriot Kaitlyn McCarthy 6-0, 6-0 for the girls singles championship, and Francis Tiafoe downing Californian Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-0 to capture one of his two titles last weekend at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center at the University of Tulsa.
The top-seeded Black took a late wild card in order to compete in Tulsa for third consecutive year, and the 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla. strolled into the semifinals with the loss of only 14 games. Her encounter with No. 4 seed Renata Zarazua
of Mexico was anything but routine however, as Black needed nearly three hours to emerge with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the crafty 16-year-old, who was a Pan American semifinalist in 2011
No. 13 seed McCarthy's path to the final was aided by Jessica Golovin's first round upset of No. 2 seed Dasha Ivanova, with No. 7 Maria Shishkina of Kazakhstan the only seed McCarthy encountered before the final. McCarthy's 3-6 6-4, 6-0 win over Shishkina in the quarterfinals, and her tight 7-5, 7-5 victory over unseeded 14-year-old Canadian Katherine Sebov put the Cary, N.C. resident into her first ITF Grade 1 final.
Black, who reached the final of the Grade B1 Easter Bowl this year and took No. 2 seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia into a third-set tiebreaker in the US Open girls final last month, was at the top of her game in the championship match, looking much more comfortable and aggressive than she had in her semifinal win over Zarazua.
McCarthy had two break points in the second game of the match, but was unable to convert either one, and Black never looked back after that. Striking every ball with authority and seizing the opportunities McCarthy gave her, Black didn't lose her focus as she collected game after game.
"I had watched her a few games the other day," said Black, who wasn't familiar with McCarthy's game, or even her name, before the US Open juniors this year. "I went out there trying to hit angles. She left the court open for me to go down the line a lot, so I took advantage of that. I played really aggressive today."
"She did pretty much what I expected," said the 15-year-old right-hander, who represented the United States at the Junior Fed Cup in Mexico last month. "She defended really well, she played pretty aggressively, she kept most of the balls in the court. I just wasn't ready to play today, unfortunately. You have those days sometimes, every athlete does. It just wasn't really coming off the racquet right today. She played really well on top of that, so it made for a very quick match."
In an hour and three minutes, Black had her first ITF Grade 1 title, which moved her into the Top 10 in the junior rankings.