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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Galfi Defeats Kenin to Win US Open Girls Championship

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

Seeded No. 2, Dalma Galfi was within two points of elimination in her first round match against American wild card Alexandra Sanford. Down 5-3, with Sanford serving at 30-all, Galfi broke back and won the next three games to keep her hopes for a junior slam singles title alive.

In her five matches since, Galfi didn’t drop a set, using a knack for winning the big points and her serve to close out match after match, including in her 7-5, 6-4 win over American Sonya Kenin in Sunday’s final.

“I think I did a really great job, and I played really well the whole tournament after -- I mean, not the whole tournament. After my first round. I almost lost there,” said the 17-year-old Hungarian. “I think that was the point I started to play better.”

The turning point in Sunday's final came with Galfi serving at 4-5 in the first set.  A double fault at 30-40 gave Kenin her first set point, but Galfi saved it with a forehand volley winner. A good return by Kenin earned another set point, but Galfi hit an ace to save that one and closed out the game with another ace.

Serving at 5-all, Kenin netted a forehand to make it 30-40 and Galfi, who was 4 for 4 in break point conversions, blasted a backhand winner down the line and held at love for the set, finishing with an ace, one of six she hit in the first set, all seemingly at important points.

“She has a really good serve,” said Kenin, a 16-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida. “It’s really hard to get the ball back when she’s hitting a really, really good serve.”

Kenin knew it was crucial to hold her own serve, but although she won the bulk of the long rallies, she was not able to match Galfi’s ability to hit a big serve when she got in trouble.

Broken in the first game of the second set, Kenin immediately broke back, but at 2-2, she double faulted on break point and Galfi had control of the match.  Galfi consolidated the break with yet another ace on game point and served out the championship, the first singles title for Hungary in US Open Junior history, with a second serve ace.

The sparse crowd on court 5 at the start of the match grew sizable once the women’s doubles final was complete, and they reserved their loudest applause for the American. But Galfi had her own cheering section—her mother, father, sister, uncle, her agent and his son, and her coach, former WTA star Andrea Temesvari.

Galfi and Temesvari share an embrace after match
Galfi has been working with the Hungarian, who reached No. 7 in the world in 1984, for just a few months, yet credits Temesvari with a major impact on the mental side of her game.

“She's telling me how to act on the court, off court, and how to behave myself, which I have problems with before,” said Galfi, who described herself as a racquet thrower prior to her recent association with Temesvari. “But I'm getting better.”

Temesvari also was able to help calm Galfi’s nerves before taking the court for her first junior slam final.

“I was really nervous. She tried to calm me,” said Galfi.  “She told me that I have nothing to lose. I have to play my game. Just enjoy that I'm in the final.”

Unlike many junior slam champions, Galfi is not moving exclusively to ITA Pro Circuit/WTA events.

“We are thinking I might play Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl end of the year just to make sure I'm in the top 5,” said Galfi, who won the Eddie Herr, but did not play the Orange Bowl last year. "I'm just starting to play pro tournaments. I'm going home now; after that I'm going to Australia for 25ks. That's my plan now.”

Kenin, although disappointed with the loss, gave credit to Galfi for her level of play in the final.

“It’s unfortunate to have lost it, but I did everything I can to try and win,” said Kenin, who played in the women’s main draw as a wild card nearly two weeks ago. “I felt I did the best I can in the finals. I had some really good matches, and I was playing really good. So I didn’t get beat, I was right there. Just the serves, it was really tough. I’m really happy overall how I played. I was so happy to be in the finals and I was so happy with the crowd.”

Kenin is planning to defend her Orange Bowl title and continue to play a mix of ITF Junior and Women’s Circuit events, including three USTA Pro Circuit events in October—two $25,000 events in South Carolina and a $50,000 tournament in Georgia.

“The last one is a 50 for sure, so I will play those for sure,” said Kenin. “It’s [within] driving distance, so that’s good.”

Galfi has no specific celebration plans, but already has a place in mind for her trophy.

“In my room, like right in front of my bed,” Galfi said. “When I have bad days or even good days, I can look at it and I can say, I did it and I'm proud of that.”