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Tournament Summary
McKenzie, Auger-Aliassime Make Dramatic Runs to Eddie Herr ITF Titles

Both Kylie McKenzie and Felix Auger Aliassime were a point from being eliminated from the Eddie Herr Grade 1 ITF tournament in the third round, but when the warm and sunny week at the IMG Academy came to a close, the winners' trophies belonged to them.

ITF Singles Champion Kylie McKenzie
© Zoo Tennis
McKenzie, who defeated No. 5 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final, had trailed 5-1 in the third set of her third round match against fellow American Hanna Chang, saving a match point in her 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory. The 16-year-old from Arizona breezed through her quarterfinal match, then eliminated top seed and defending champion Dalma Galfi of Hungary, the US Open girls champion, 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals.

So successful were the US girls, with ten reaching the round of 16 and five advancing to the quarterfinals, that all-American matches were commonplace, but Zidansek took out two of the top American contenders, both in three sets. The soon-to-be-18-year-old defeated USTA 18s champion Sonya Kenin in the quarterfinals, and in the semifinals, 14-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, who won the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano last month.

Zidansek, playing in just her sixth junior tournament of the year, was seeded based on her WTA ranking of 289, and her ability to come back from a set down in both those matches was a testament to both her fitness and her experience.

In the final, played under partly cloudy skies in front of several hundred local fans, Zidansek had no need to fight back from a first set deficit.

Down an early break, McKenzie had to wonder when Zidansek would ever miss a ball, with Zidansek handling McKenzie's power game with ease.

"In the beginning I was definitely very nervous coming out," said McKenzie, playing in her first Grade 1 final. "She's a great player. She gets everything back, she mixes it up, she hits heavy, she's fast, she can do the slices and the drop shots. I was trying to figure out what I needed to do, how I should mix it up to get her to miss more, force her.

"With a girl like her, you have to be really physical, to last through the long points, and I tried to use more patterns and mix up my shots."

The strategy definitely worked in the second set, when Zidansek made arguably her first bad error of the match serving at 1-2, 30-all. McKenzie pounced, hitting a forehand winner after a long rally, and although she was broken in the next game, she got another break for 4-2 and finished off the set.

In the third set, the key game came at 3-3, with Zidansek serving. Down 15-40, Zidansek saved those two break points, then four more, before McKenzie finally got the break with a big return of a second serve.

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Page updated on Sunday, January 24, 2021
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