Sunday, September 7th-
Junior Open, Final Day
(Main Draw, almost* Final Day)
It had been 16 years since two Americans -- Lindsay Davenport and Brian Dunn -- were in the finals of both U.S. Open Junior Boys and Girls Championships. And CoCo Vandeweghe and Devin
Britton were determined to make their presence known.
As they have the last few years, tournament organizers put the junior finals on courts 7 & 11 -- opposite ends, at the same time. I decided that I miss too much with the back and forth wearimg
down of the cobblestones, so I spent a set at each.
My first stop was at the boys, where third-seeded Grigor Dmitrov and the first ever qualifying wildcard to make a final -- Devin Britton
-- were going at it. The match started much as I expected, with the two hard-hitters winning short points, mostly on their serves. Both players looked solid and no one
was giving up a break.
Bulgarian Grigor was just a bit more consistent as he shook up the teen from Mississipi into two double faults at 5-4 and Grigor had the first set. There was one break and one lead
for Devin for 2-1 in the second, but he couldn't hold it and dropped the second at 6-3 after saving two match points. I spoke a bit with him after the match and he was still elated to have made the final
when he wasn't even sure he was going to make the Open.
If it wasn't for Austin Krajicek, who dropped out of the main draw in order to have time to go to Spain with the Davis Cup, giving Rhyne
Williams a main draw berth, Devin Britton (above) would have not had that wildcard in the qualifying that took him all the way to the final match. The next concentration will be college,
as Devin says he will be attending (and playing for) the University of Mississippi in January.
Grigor Dimitrov, who like his opponent is 17, was not new to picking up a Grand Slam event trophy. He had recently done just that at Wimbledon, propelling him to his current No. 4 spot
in the ITF Junior world rankings. Grigor explained the difference in the match for him, "I wasn't nervous at all. I was prepared for that... just keeping my game in the level that I wanted to play was good, because all the matches I was
Her mother was the member of two Olympic teams (and won a silver medal in 1984), her uncle is former NBA star KiKi Vandeweghe and her brother just left for Pepperdine to play volleyball on scholarship, so what's
the best sports advice the California girl has gotten, "Smile." And that she did -- all the way to the trophy ceremony on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
I arrived at the CoCo Vanderweghe-Gabriela Paz Franco match to find the two unseeded players trading breaks. From 4-3 CoCo to the eventual tiebreaker, there were four breaks,
with CoCo having a set point at 6-5. She got another chance, though, in the breaker and the American had her first set.
The two 16-year-olds went at in the second set and despite a final score of 6-1,
there were a lot of long games. Much of the difference came with Gabriela's serve as the Venezuelan's double faults (she confirmed that she was having some shoulder pain) cost
her a number of games as CoCo Vandeweghe became the first girl from the United States to win the U.S. Open Junior Championships since Meilen Tu in 1994.
It was a great U.S. Open for the United States with Americans in the finals of the Junior Boys & Girls Singles, Junior Girls' Doubles, Men's Doubles, Women's Doubles, Mixed Doubles,
and Women's Singles after a major homecourt drought last year. Congratulations to all and especially to juniors CoCo Vandeweghe, Devin Britton, Mallory Burdette and
Sloane Stephens -- the latest juniors to make their mark on the U.S. Open.