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American Andrews brings home European trophies

Blue chip Gabrielle Andrews barely had time to return to her California home to rest on her 2009 Winter Nationals laurels.

Aegon and Les Petit As champ Gabrielle Andrews
© Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Almost immediately, the 13-year-old champion was on the road again - to Florida initially and then off to England and France to represent the United States in two of the most prestigious European junior tournaments: Aegon Teen Tennis and Les Petit As, where names like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Clijsters, Henin, and Davenport debuted on the international stage.

She brought home the Aegon singles trophy. Along with partner Brooke Austin, she also took both English and French doubles titles.

Representing the U.S. as a tennis player was sweet reward for Andrews, who spent much of 2008 in a wheelchair recuperating from hip surgery. Doctors predicted it would be two years before she would be competing again.

But she defied all expectations and was back on the court with a vengeance in less time, making the finals of the 14s National Claycourts in 2009 and then finishing off that year with the Winter Nationals trophy.

"To tell you the truth I'm just happy to be playing again," Andrews said. "[When] Coach Kathy Rinaldi asked me to be part of the elite team [it] was truly an honor for me."

The city of Bolton (just outside Manchester) welcomed the American team with bone-chilling English weather, but "we got used to the cold in part because we were so excited," Andrews said.

Her singles draw was a lesson in geography: she played athletes from France, Russia, Latvia and Croatia. It was a dizzying experience for Andrews, who herself is half Filipino.

Her first-round opponent was Alizee Michaud and Andrews lost the first set, but came back to win in three: 4-6, 6-0, 6-4. It was to be the first of three matches where, after dropping the first set, she would rally to win the next two.

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