Victoria Duval, former "Little Mo" champ, received the Maureen Connolly "Outstanding Player" award at the USTA Girls 18 championships in San Diego, CA. Congrats to Victoria! And congratulations to Samantha Crawford, former "Little Mo" champion, for receiving the USTA Sportsmanship award.
The prestigious Maureen Connolly Brinker Outstanding Junior Girl Award has been given since 1969 by the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation to a player at the USTA National Girls’ 18 Championships who has performed outstandingly at the event. Victoria Duval received this year’s honor. Her name will be added to the cup, which includes such tennis legends as Lindsay Davenport and Tracy Austin, and recent Olympians Lisa Raymond and Christina McHale. Also on Sunday, Samantha Crawford was given the USTA Sportsmanship Award in the Girls’ 18s. Jessica Ho was given the award for the 16s.
By Marcia Frost: The USTA Girls’ 16 & 18 National Championships finished under the same sunny skies they started with, only there was a champion shining under the brightness on Sunday.
It was a long week of tough matches in singles and doubles (she earned a title in that event on Saturday) for Alexandra Kiick. While Victoria Duval (17-32) needed some time to warm up, Kiick ran out of steam. She would win the first set with a 6-3 score and then take only one game in the next 13. Despite the final 3-6,6-1,6-0 score that gave Victoria Duval the title of USTA Girls’ 18 National Champion, there were some competitive points in the match, especially in the second set. The two 16 year old Floridians exchanged winners and kept the crowd intrigued.
Duval, who has been out most of the year with injuries, was elated after her win. She called her mother and shared a moment with Kathy Rinaldi, her coach, from the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton, before talking about the match, “Something clicks in my head when I’m losing and I tell myself, ‘I have no pressure now,’ she explained, “so when I’m winning I have no pressure too.”
“She played really well in the first set,” added Duval, when asked about Kiick’s performance. “I don’t think there was much else I could do. She played great tennis. In the second set, my coach had always told me the match starts in the second set, so I changed my game plane. I knew I had nothing to lose and I went for it.” The strategy worked and Duval will have a chance to try it when she plays the Women’s Singles at the U.S. Open in a few weeks.
Kiick called her father, former Miami Dolphin Jim Kiick, back in Plantation, Florida, after the match and says he definitely cheered her up as he too had a lot of experience in winning and losing. She also smiled remembering the fact that as a finalist she receives a wildcard into the U.S. Open Women’s Singles Qualifying to go with the doubles wildcard she received with Samantha Crawford.