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Championship Week
McNally Sweeps 16s Kalamazoo Titles

John McNally definitely had a target on his back entering the 16s USTA National Championships last week at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium.

Boys' 16 Nationals Champion John McNally
© ZooTennis
The Easter Bowl and Clay Courts champion, seeded No. 1 at Kalamazoo, was 57-1 this year entering the tournament. When McNally left it to return home to Cincinnati, he had extended his singles record to 64-1 and earned two USTA gold balls, courtesy of a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Connor Hance in the singles final and, with best friend Gianni Ross, a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Brenden Volk and Matthew Galush in the doubles final.

That's not to say McNally had a stroll through the draw. In the quarterfinals, the 15-year-old right-hander trailed 4-0 in the final set against No. 6 seed Sam Riffice before posting a 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) win.

McNally said it never occurred to him that he might lose that match.

"I never think about that," he said. "If it happens, it happens. You can't really worry about losing; you just have to try to play to win. Even if you're down 5-0 40-love, there's still a chance, anything can happen, one point, a kid could get hurt or something. But no, I never thought I was going to lose."

The next challenge for McNally was against No. 4 seed Ross in the semifinals, a match that he won 6-2, 7-6(3), but didn't relish.

"I won, I'm in the finals of Kalamazoo, but I'm not like really ecstatic about it, because I beat my brother, basically," McNally said. "I started off strong, but it's a tough match to play."

The bottom half of the draw featured a breakout tournament for Oliver Crawford, an unseeded 15-year-old playing in just his third USTA National Level 1. Crawford defeated three seeds, including No. 8 seed William Blumberg en route to the semifinals, but his run was ended there by No. 9 seed Connor Hance, who outlasted him 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

Hance has found himself something of a celebrity this year, and not because he was the child actor in the role of Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf's son in a Genworth Financial commercial with Taylor Dent some years back. Rather, the 15-year-old Californian is the only player to beat McNally this year, clinching the Southern California section's Intersectional title with a 6-4, 7-5 win over McNally at No. 1 singles.

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Page updated on Thursday, February 12, 2015
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