2018 USTA National Winter Championships
Connie Ma Sweeps Girls' 18s Titles
January 4, 2019
On the final day of play at the 2018 USTA National Winter Championships, part of the USTA adidas Junior National Championship Series, four players plus one doubles team captured prestigious USTA Gold Balls to close out the event.
Amongst the singles champions were Connie Ma (Dublin, Calif.), who became just the third player in the 18 year history of the event to capture both the girls’ 18s singles and doubles Gold Balls in the same year. Other titlists included No. 8 Nadejda Maslova (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the girls’ 16s, No. 5 Luke Casper (Santa Cruz, Calif.) in the boys’ 16s, and No. 17 Ishaan Ravichander (Belle Mead, N.J.) in the boys’ 18s. The 10th-seeded tandem of Jeremie Casabon (Flourtown, Pa.) and Henry Ruger (Philadelphia) came through for the boys’ 18s doubles crown as well.
A replay of the boys’ and girls’ 18s singles finals broadcast can be watched here.
It was not a smooth start from Ma, who dropped 12 of the first 16 points of the match against No. 3 seed Alana Wolfberg (Orlando) to fall behind 3-0. Ma was able to draw even at 3-3, but Wolfberg stayed in front by holding for 4-3 after fighting off a break point. Even after Ma claimed the next two games to put herself in a position to serve for the set, she quickly fell behind 0-40. However, she steadied herself, eventually winning the frame on the second set point. To begin the second, it appeared Wolfberg was ready to dig in, grabbing a 40-15 lead including serving just her second ace of the match. But once again, she failed to maintain the advantage, as Ma broke and easily held for 2-0. Dropping serve in the following game would be the end of Wolfberg’s chances at a comeback, as Ma barely lost a point in sprinting to the finish line.
No. 4 Connie Ma’s Road to the Championship
Round of 128: def. Meghan Coleman 6-1, 6-3
Round of 64: def. Rachele Rimondini 6-2, 6-4
Round of 32: def. Sophia Edwards 6-3, 6-2
Round of 16: def. No. 13 Rosie Garcia Gross 3-0, ret.
Quarterfinals: def. No. 12 Gianna Pielet 6-1, 6-4
Semifinals: def. No. 8 Carly Briggs 6-2, 6-1
Final: def. No. 3 Alana Wolfberg 6-4, 6-0
In the lone championship tilt to be decided in three sets, Maslova battled her way to victory over top seed Leyden Games (Irvine, California) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The opening frame lasted 92 minutes despite being just 10 games, as half of those were sent to deuce. Both players struggled on serve from the start, exchanging breaks before Maslova held to move ahead 2-1. Games overcame two double faults and a break point for 2-2, and play remained on serve until three consecutive breaks left Games with a 6-5 advantage; Games successfully closed out the set after saving another break point.
Set two featured more break than holds, but Maslova managed to keep her lead throughout thanks to taking five of the first six games. She was broken when serving for the set at 5-1, and Games applied some additional pressure by trimming the margin to 5-3, but Maslova held comfortably to push the contest to a third set. In the frame, each player served two doubles faults and faced one break point; however, in what proved to be a crucial difference in the match, Maslova pulled out a hold while Games was unable to do so. That would be the only look at a break point Games got the entire set, as the two competitors still battled through lengthy rallies but took care of serve at a more efficient rate until the last game, when Maslova broke by winning the final two points.
No. 8 Nadejda Maslova’s Road to the Championship
Round of 128: def. Arushi Malik 6-3, 6-3
Round of 64: def. Drew Morris 6-1, 6-0
Round of 32: def. No. 17 Qavia Lopez 6-3, 6-0
Round of 16: def. No. 15 Avery Durham 6-4, 6-2
Quarterfinals: def. Emma Charney 6-1, 6-0
Semifinals: def. DJ Bennett 6-4, 6-1
Final: def. No. 1 Leyden Games 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
A highly-competitive boy’s 18s final went the way of Ravichander by a slim 7-6(2), 6-3 margin over No. 9 Zachery Lim (Fairfield, Calif.). Even with the two players hovering around a first serve percentage of 60% for the match, there were just five breaks in total, two of which took place in the first four games. For the remained of the set, a mere four break points materialized, but Ravichander and Lim continued to hold to force a tiebreak; Ravichander won the first three and final three points to take the tiebreak in commanding fashion. The second frame was more straightforward thanks to Ravichander breaking Lim twice en route to a 5-1 cushion. Lim did fight back to 5-3, but Ravichander slammed the door shut from there.
No. 17 Ishaan Ravichander’s Road to the Championship
Round of 128: def. Connor Aylett 6-0, 6-1
Round 0f 64: def. Luke Baylis 6-0, 6-2
Round of 32: def. No. 11 Anders Gibbons 7-6(5), 6-2
Round of 16: def. No. 17 Finn Garner 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1
Quarterfinals: def. No. 17 Hunter Heck 6-1, 6-2
Semifinals: def. No. 4 Logan Zapp 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Final: def. No. 9 Zachery Lim 7-6(2), 6-3
In what turned out to be the last match to finish on the day, Casper held off No. 13 Quinn Snyder (Delran, N.J.) 7-6(5), 6-4 for the Gold Ball in the boys’ 16s division. Neither player was able to gain much traction throughout the first set, as Casper broke serve a total of three times but Snyder immediately responded on each occasion. Fittingly, a back-and-forth tiebreak would decide it, where Casper battled through for the triumph, seven points to five. Casper and Snyder also traded breaks of serve in the early goings of set two, but it would be Casper producing the crucial break at 4-4. In the next game, he squandered two match points before successfully cashing in on his third.
No. 5 Luke Casper’s Road to the Championship
Round of 128: def. Noah Zamora 6-2, 6-2
Round of 64: def. Kailas Kahler 6-1, 6-1
Round of 32: def. No. 17 Luke Garner 6-1, 7-6(3)
Round of 16: def. Braden Shick 7-6(5), 6-4
Quarterfinals: def. No. 1 Jack Anthrop 6-3, 6-3
Semifinals: def. No. 11 Samir Banerjee 6-1, 7-5
Final: def. No. 13 Quinn Snyder 7-6(5), 6-4
Winners of the third-place playoff matches, therefore earning a Bronze Ball, included Samir Banerjee in the boys’ 16s, Logan Zapp in the boys’ 18s, Bridget Stammel in the girls’ 16s, and Carly Briggs in the girls’ 18s.
Other action on Friday saw Jeremie Casabon and Henry Ruger, seeded 10th, best the unseeded duo of Hunter Heck (Saint Paul, Minn.) and JJ Tracy (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) 6-4, 6-1 to capture the boys’ 18s doubles crown. Casabon and Ruger broke serve a total of five times while only dropping serve once.
For complete results from the 2018 USTA National Winter Championships, click here.