Kylie McKenzie Completes Run at Girls 16s
by Keith Kropp, 14 August 2014
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During her early-round matches at the USTA Girls 16s National Championships Kylie McKenzie was not only building momentum, she was dismantling the field in impressive fashion. The 15-year-old blue chip recruit from Anthem, Ariz., maintained that same high level of play the rest of the week and went on to capture the title with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed Kayla Day of Santa Barbara at the Barnes Center.
Girls' 16 Singles Champion Kylie McKenzie
courtesy, Girls' 16 Nationals
McKenzie dropped only nine games in winning her first five matches en route to reaching the semifinals. In Friday morning's championship match, she appeared to be crafting another lopsided victory when she easily won the first set and grabbing a quick 3-1 lead in the second.
However, Day, a talented 15-year-old left-hander who has played in a lot of big matches, would make the ninth-seeded McKenzie work very hard to get across the finish line.
"I was having trouble closing it out," said McKenzie, who was seeded ninth. "It was a tough match. I was getting tight and she starting playing better in the second set."
Trailing 3-1 in the second set, Day gradually closed the deficit and held serve in the ninth game, forcing McKenzie to serve out the match leading 5-4. That next game would require all of McKenzie's skill and mental toughness.
"At 5-4 it was a super-long game," said McKenzie, who trailed 15-40 and would eventually save five break points. "I squandered a few match points, but finally I played solid points at the end to win."
McKenzie was awarded a USTA gold ball for winning a national championship, and she also earned a spot into the main draw of the U.S. Open in the Junior Girls event.
"I'm so excited," McKenzie said. "It's going to be an amazing experience."
Looking back on her performance, McKenzie felt she had a great mind-set all week.
"I was pleased with how I came out on the court and was focused and able to play my game," she said.
"I surprised myself a little bit (with her early-round scores). I knew I was playing well coming here. This tournament was my goal. Coming out today I knew what I needed to do."
The McKenzie-Day final was a rematch of their quarterfinal dual at the USTA Clay Court 16s Championships at Virginia Beach, Va., in July. Day won that match 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1.