Clay Court Championship Week
Kalieva Upsets Top Seed in Three Sets in 12s
by Ali Jones
, 21 July 2015
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Elvina Kalieva earned her first USTA Gold Ball at the Girls 12s National Clay Court Championships on a sunny Saturday morning.
The following Monday at 8 a.m. sharp, she was back on the courts with her coach Andrei Kozlov at the Kozlov Miami Tennis Academy
for a full day of training - typically six hours on court and another hour and half off-court.
"We train really hard," said Coach Kozlov. "All the time we play a lot of sets. That's why she's ready to play three sets, five sets, right now."
Indeed, the ninth seeded Kalieva went the distance in five of her seven singles matches, winning those in three sets. Of those three-setters, she was down in four of five. In the championship match, she lost the first set, but regrouped and pulled out a thrilling singles match over top seed and local favorite Charlotte Owensby, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
"I was happy," Kalieva said after her win. The loss of the first set only strengthened her resolve to once again come back from a deficit.
"I just played more consistently in the second set and made fewer errors," she said.
Owensby finished her 12s career with a silver USTA ball in singles, but the previous day, she and partner Rachel Arbitman won the gold doubles ball over top seeded Savannah Broadus and Kenadee Semenik in a three-set match as well, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
"It was exciting because we were down the whole match and we came back and we had a great win," Owensby said of her doubles victory. "We lost the first set and were down 4-1 in the second, but we focused in on our strategy and we climbed back point by point. We just stayed positive and stayed on every point."
In the singles championship match, held on the clay courts of posh BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the finalists displayed fitness, skill and athleticism - attributes that enabled them to best the field of 128 competitors.
Owensby dictated play in the first set, moving her opponent side to side, and forcing errors from Kalieva.