McHale wins both singles and doubles at Girls' 18s Nationals; Wins US Open wild card

March 10, 2009 03:45 PM
By Marcia Frost

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The winners' circle had familiar faces today, though there were no repeat winners, as 17 year old Christina McHale swept the USTA Girls' 18 National Championships at the Berkeley Tennis Club and Claremont Resort & Spa.

Last year's winner, Gail Brodsky, didn't go home empty handed as the picked up third place in the singles with a straight set victory over Beatrice Capra. She also took a bronze ball in the doubles with Kaitlyn Christian to go with the silver one she and Mallory Cecil achieved in 2008. Last year's fifth place singles winner Kristie Ahn, who had to retire from the singles this year because of a toe injury, was this year's doubles finalist with Courtney Dolehide. But the big winner of the day was Christina McHale, who bettered her fourth place finish in doubles from last year (with Julia Boserup), with first place in singles and doubles -- the first one to achieve that feat since Kristen Schlukebir did it in 2000.

The day started with the singles playoffs. At the same time as the Brodsky-Capra match, Asia Muhammad fought her way through a three-setter to capture fifth place over Arizona State's incoming freshman, Jacqueline Cako. The match would continue for over two hours, in contrast to the final. Christina McHale had total control over that baseline battle, hitting winners faster than the eye could see. After shutting out the first set, the New Jersey native had Lauren Embree to 4-1 before the Floridian could even get a break point. She couldn't close the game out, though, and Christina McHale had her title and U.S. Open Wildcard at the next one.

Lauren Embree did prevail with partner Allie Will in the third place doubles playoff over Gail Brodsky and Kaitlyn Christian. Embree was pleased with the first event played with her soon to be partner at the University of Florida. Both that match and the final -- Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad vs. Kristie Ahn and Courtney Dolehide -- went to three close sets. M&M were the winners of that one at 7-5 in the third. "I still can't believe it," said McHale after her second Gold Ball of the day (the fifth in her junior tenniscareer). "I'm so excited. And to win that close doubles match made it ten times better."

Christina McHale was also the recipient of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Award. The award, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is given in honor of Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly, who achieved the Grand Slam in her short tennis career. The honor is given to a player who exemplifies superb sportsmanship, as displayed by McHale. The USTA Sportsmanship Award was given to Lauren Embree and Jacqueline Cako, who lost her first match and then kept going through the finals of the back draw (playing a total of 16 matches between singles and doubles) was bestowed the Chairman's Award for Sportsmanship.

Visit the tournament’s official site for stories and photos. Also look for the USTA Girls' 18 National Championships on Facebook, with photo albums for each day.

Click on the links below for complete results from all USTA National Championship tournaments:

Boys' 16s, 18s
- Kalamazoo, Mich.

Boys' 14s - San Antonio, Texas

Boys' 12s - N. Little Rock, Ark.

Girls' 18s - Berkeley, Calif.

Girls' 16s - San Diego

Girls' 14s - Peachtree City, Ga.

Girls' 12s - Alpharetta, Ga.