SAN DIEGO–Fourteen-year-old Reese Brantmeier of Whitewater, Wisconsin completed a dream run to the Girls’ 16s singles title of the USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 16s and 18s National Championships as she shocked top-seeded Valencia Xu of Livingston, N.J., 6-2, 6-0 in 66 minutes.
Playing in front of a capacity crowd at the Barnes Tennis Center, which included King and a national television audience on Tennis Channel, the 14th seeded Brantmeier used an aggressive baseline game to stun Xu, who sailed through her first six tournament matches without dropping a set.
Coming into the Girls’ 16s final, Brantmeier had lost to Xu in all three of their previous head-to-head meetings in junior competition, but was determined to win her first match against the top-seed.
At 2-2 in the first set, Brantmeier took advantage of Xu’s two doubles faults and not only broke serve, but went on to capture the next 10 consecutive games and win the tournament, along with a wild card into the singles main draw of the upcoming US Open Juniors event in New York.
“I really focused like any other match. I stayed calm even though there were all the people and the cameras. I just stayed really aggressive and didn’t lose my head,” Brantmeier said. “It’s definitely given me a new look on how to handle pressure. I handled it very well and I’ll take this experience when I go to New York and use that to win matches there.”
Following the post-match ceremony, where she was presented with a USTA gold ball for winning the National Championship, Brantmeier spoke about how special the tournament was for her.
“This is one of the biggest events of the year. It’s my favorite tournament. It’s such a great site,” she said. “It’s an amazing tournament with so many fans who come out to support. It’s an amazing experience.”
Third-seeded Emma Navarro of Charleston, S.C., will meet second-seeded Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek, Calif., for the Girls’ 18s singles championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. (PDT).
In Saturday’s 18s semifinals, Navarro ousted top-seeded Hailey Baptiste of Washington, 6-0, 6-2 in 69 minutes. Navarro took advantage of unforced errors by Baptiste and swept the opening set in 35 minutes.
Baptiste held serve twice early in the second set, but with the scored tied 2-2, Navarro lifted the level of her game and won the last four games to clinch the match and secure her spot in the 18s final.
In the other 18s semifinal, Volynets dropped her first set of the tournament against 13th seeded Katrina Scott of Woodland Hills, Calif., but rebounded for a hard-fought 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory in two-hours and 26 minutes.
Over 400 of the top junior tennis players in the country, aged 16 and 18 and under, are competing for the title of National Champion, as well as a wild card entry into the Women’s Singles main draw of the 2019 US Open (for the 18s Champion) and a wild card into the 2019 US Open Junior Championships (for the 16s Champion). The 18s Doubles Champions will also receive a wild card into the US Open Women’s Doubles main draw.
USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 16s and 18s National Championships Barnes Tennis Center Saturday’s results:
Girls’ 16s Singles Championship – Reese Brantmeier def. Valencia Xu (1), Livingston, N.J., 6-2, 6-0
Vivian Ovrootsky (2), San Jose, Calif., def. Eleana Yu (17), Mason, Ohio, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Girls’ 18s Singles Semifinals
Emma Navarro (3), Charleston, S.C., def. Hailey Baptiste (1), Washington, 6-0, 6-2
Katie Volynets (2), Walnut Creek, Calif., def. Katrina Scott (13), Woodland Hills, Calif., 2-6, 6-1, 6-3