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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Wang and Lian Claim USTA Winter Nationals 18s Titles, Champions Crowned in 12s, 14s and 16s Divisions

The weather was perfect in Lake Nona today for the finals of singles and doubles at the USTA 18s and 16s Winter National Championships. While it was less than ideal in Tucson, with temperatures in the 50s, both the semifinals and finals were played and champions were crowned in the 12s and 14s divisions as well.

In the 18s, both finals went three sets, with No. 5 seed Tianmei Wang defeating No. 16 seed Alanis Hamilton 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 and No. 10 seed James Lian beating No. 16 seed Waleed Qadir 7-5, 0-6, 6-3.

Hamilton and Wang, both 15, rarely managed to play well at the same time, with Hamilton really struggling in the opening set. Unable to get her transition game going, Hamilton saw Wang's returns land at her feet or Wang's passing shots find their mark, while Wang struck multiple winners when the rallies appeared neutral.

In the second set, Hamilton began to have more success at the net, while Wang hit a lull; at 2-2, Hamilton got a break and went on to win the final four games of the set.

After the 10-minute break, Wang immediately got back on track with a hold, and although she lost her serve in the third game, she broke right back and then went ahead 5-3 with another break of Hamilton. Wang didn't serve it out, but Hamilton couldn't hold serving at 4-5, with Wang converting her second match point when Hamilton's backhand volley went long.

Like Wang, Lian had his bad games, but almost all of his came in the second set. In the third set, he got a crucial break to go up 3-1 and held that advantage, while continuing to rely on his forehand and transition game. The 18-year-old from New Jersey, who has committed to Brown, closed out the championships on his first opportunity against the Dartmouth freshman. After a backhand winner gave him a match point, Lian secured the title when Qadir sent a volley long.

I wasn't able to watch any of the 16s finals, played at the same time as the 18s, with the girls final on a Playsight court without sound, making it impossible to know the score, and the boys final not on a Playsight court.

No. 3 seed Leena Friedman, a 15-year-old from New York, defeated No. 6 seed Sophia Holod, also from New York, 6-1, 6-4 to take the Girls 16s title, while unseeded Maximus Dussault, a 15-year-old from Florida, beat unseeded 14-year-old Keaton Hance 6-4, 6-3 to claim the Boys 16s title.


doubles finals were played Tuesday afternoon, with Hamilton rebounding to take that gold ball with partner Kayla Chung. The No. 6 seeds defeated No. 10 seeds Esha Velaga and Alice Xu 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for the Girls 18s title.

No. 13 seeds Xander Barber and Nicholas Mangiapane won the Boys 18s title, defeating No. 11 seeds Christian Gonzalez and Jack Ingram 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Barber won the Winter Nationals 16s doubles title last year.

The Girls 16s doubles title went to Eddie Herr champions Vessa Turley and Georgia Cranford, the No. 4 seeds, who defeated No. 12 seeds Amy Lee and Alba Martinez 6-4, 6-4.

No. 8 seeds Andre Alcantara and Xavier Calvelo won the Boys 16s doubles, beating No. 13 seeds Aniketh Poruri and Winston Lee 6-2, 6-2 in the championship match.

In Tucson, the semifinals and finals were both played today, with short scoring (sets to 4, not 6) and match tiebreakers for both 12s and 14s in the semifinals. All the finals were straight-set affairs, so I don't know if they would have played a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set in the championship matches.

After two runner-up finishes at the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl, top seed Tabb Tuck had no trouble ending that streak today, with the 12-year-old from Alabama beating No. 7 seed Carter Jauffret 6-1, 6-1 in the final. 

No. 4 seed Vihaan Reddy won his second consecutive Winter Nationals singles title, after taking the 12s title last year, beating No. 3 seed Colin McPeek 6-1, 6-1 in the 14s final. 

In the girls 12s, No. 4 seed Allison Wang defeated top seed Caroline Shao 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

Nancy Lee and Carrie-Anne Hoo partnered for last year's Girls 12s doubles title at the Winter Nationals; this year they met in the Girls 14s singles final, with Lee taking a 6-0, 6-0 decision.

The doubles in Tucson were so far behind schedule that some of the quarterfinal matches had not yet been completed as of this morning, so the finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. Mountain time. I will post the names of the doubles champions tomorrow in the 2023 Honor Roll; below are the results from the semifinals and finals in singles today:

Allison Wang[4] d. Caroline Shao[1] 6-1, 6-2
Caroline Shao[1] d. Grace Hong[3] 4-1, 4-2
Allison Wang[4] d. Michelle Lee[9] 4-0, 4-1

Nancy Lee [7] d. Carrie-Anne Hoo[9] 6-0, 6-0
Nancy Lee[7] d. Ellery Mendell[14] 4-1, 4-1
Carrie-Anne Hoo[9] d. Ireland O'Brien 4-2, 4-0

Tabb Tuck[1] d. Carter Jauffret[7] 6-1, 6-1
Tabb Tuck[1] d. Zesen Wang[4] 5-3, 4-0
Carter Jauffret[7] d. Dylan Meineke[3] 5-4(6), 3-5, 10-8

Vihaan Reddy[4] d. Colin McPeek[3] 6-1, 6-1
Vihaan Reddy[4] d. Lixing Jiang[1] 4-0, 5-4(5)
Colin McPeek[3] d. Kollin Nguyen-Ngo[17] 4-1, 3-5, 10-3

The Tennis Recruiting Network will be providing articles on all the Winter Nationals champions later this week.