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Championship Week
Blake Channels Focus Into Girls 16s Titles
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Angelica Blake's racket was shaking in her hands as she prepared for the warm-up.

Standing on stadium court at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Blake looked around at the large crowd and television cameras watching her every move.

For the first time in tournament history, the singles final of the USTA Girls 16 National Hardcourt Championship was being aired on the Tennis Channel.

Girls 16s Champion Angelica Blake
© J. Fred Sidhu

“Oh my gosh. Once I got onto the court, I couldn't hit the ball properly at all,” Blake said. “There were people at home watching me for the first time in my life. Obviously, a lot of people watch the Tennis Channel. I was so nervous. I hadn't expected anything like that. But I had to forget about it once the match started and focus on playing my game.”

After putting the early jitters aside, Blake settled in for a lengthy battle.

The ninth-seeded rising junior blue chip rallied to beat close friend and doubles partner Nikki Redelijk 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Along with a gold ball, Blake, 16, received a wild card into the U.S. Open Junior Championships in New York.

“I am ecstatic. The reason I played the 16s was to get the wild card. That was my goal and that was what I set out to do in my mind,” said Blake, a Philadelphia native who resides in Boca Raton, Fla. “It took me three match points, but I finally got it. I am am actually the national champion and it is just amazing. When the ball was finally called out, I let out a sigh of relief.”

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