Unseeded Hardebeck Captures Clay Court Title in First Girls 18s National Championship
by Colette Lewis
, 30 July 2009
Fourteen-year-old Krista Hardebeck faced all sorts of challenges in her first National Championships in the 18s division. From an unfamiliar surface, to bad weather, to an early round third-set tiebreaker, she survived them all, and with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 17 seed Gabriella De Simone in the final, which was played indoors at the Tunica National Tennis Club due to rain, Hardebeck made sure her first USTA ball was a gold one.
The unseeded Hardebeck was playing in only her second clay court competition at the Racquet Club of Memphis
- the first was just a week before at the National 16s Intersectionals
in Shreveport, La. - and the rising sophomore from Santa Ana, Calif. admitted she is more comfortable on hard courts. She barely escaped the third round against No. 3 seed Blair Seideman
, who twice served for the match in the third set of the three-hour contest. With the aplomb of a veteran, Hardebeck kept her cool in the ensuing tiebreaker, and despite squandering three match points with a 6-2 lead in that tiebreaker, she smacked a signature forehand winner on her last one to survive. Another challenge arrived in the form of heavy rain on Tuesday, requiring most girls to play two matches on Thursday, a prospect Hardebeck did not relish.
"I guess it's okay to say this now," Hardebeck said after the final. "In the middle of the week, I was so sore from playing Intersectionals. I got to the point where I can't lose, because I don't want to go in the back draw and play two matches in one day."
After her Round of 16 three-setter with No. 17 seed Whitney Kay, Hardebeck really hit her stride, taking out Nicole Melichar in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Ellen Tsay in the semifinals in straight sets. In the final against De Simone, who despite residing in the San Diego area loves clay and believes it her best surface, Hardebeck continued to go for the lines, and hit them regularly, with the faster indoor clay providing assistance.