USTA Southern 14s wrap up play

sports@macon.comJune 21, 2014 

After seven days of competition, matches wrapped up for the USTA Southern 14s Championships on Friday in Macon.

At the start, 320 junior tennis players from the Southeast region competed for the championship in both boys and girls divisions. Doubles matches were also played.

Ava Hrastar, a 12-year-old from Duluth, snagged a consolation round finals win and finished in second in the doubles draw. She and doubles partner, Cassie L. McLay from Monroe, Louisiana, lost 6-4, 6-4 to South Carolina opponents Maggie Cubitt and Elise Mills in the finals.

Hrastar’s singles run was impressive. Many of her competitors were older than she is.

“I really didn’t focus on how old they were; I was focusing on playing,” she said.

Before entering the consolation round, she had to play her friend, Chloe Beck of Watkinsville. Hrastar 6-3, 6-4 lost to Beck.

“She’s a great player and is always a tough competitor,” Hrastar said. “Even though it was a tough match, I tried to stay focused. I fought hard, and it was close.”

In the boys division, top-seeded Drew Baird of Fairhope, Alabama, defeated Alpharetta’s Sahil Raina 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“I started out well,” Raina said, “My serves were on. I was hitting deeper groundstrokes.”

Baird, who is 13, was ecstatic about his win.

“This is the biggest tournament in the South,” he said after receiving his championship trophy. “My intensity was too high (in the first set). He didn’t miss, he kept getting deep shots, and I couldn’t convert any of the important points. He played really well.”

But once Baird calmed down, and nailed his serves, he never looked back. Even at the end of the match when nerves of the title that was at stake crept into his mind.

“I did. I kept missing my shots at the end,” he said. “But I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t focus on the end. Focus on this point.’ ”

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