A pair of talented Southern Californians finished the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships in winning form as top-seeded Henry Craig of San Diego and third-seeded Taylor Johnson captured singles titles in their respective divisions under bright sunny skies on Sunday afternoon at the Balboa Tennis Club.
The 23-year-old Craig, who lives in the nearby San Diego community of Bankers Hill, played perhaps his best match of the tournament as he cruised past fifth-seeded Nicholas Reyes of West Hollywood, Calif., 6-1, 6-1 in 65 minutes.
Craig, a touring tennis professional ranked No. 632 in the ATP World Tour singles rankings, broke Reyes to open the match and built a 5-1 lead before closing out the first set in 38 minutes.
In the second set, Craig continued his brilliant play as he used two service breaks to take a 5-0 lead before Reyes held serve in the sixth game. Playing with a high level of confidence, Craig served out the match in the next game to win the title and his first USTA gold ball.
“I came out really strong out of the gate. I had a strong start and got on top of him early. I kept that momentum rolling and didn’t let him get into the match,” said Craig, who competes mainly on the USTA Pro Circuit. “It was a great week. I had a lot of tough matches and got a lot of great practice. I got my first gold ball, which is like a cherry on top for the week.”
In the women’s singles final, 17-year-old Taylor Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., took home the championship and a USTA gold ball after scoring a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Julia Haynes of San Diego (Rancho Bernardo).
The third-seeded Johnson overcame a 4-1 deficit in the opening set and won five straight games to win the first set in 50 minutes. After breaking Haynes twice in the second set, she established a 5-2 lead. In the eighth game, Johnson fought off two break points and eventually went on to serve out the match.
“It feels amazing. I’m so happy just to be able to play this tournament. To come out with a win was pretty awesome,” said Johnson, who was playing her first tournament since suffering a left shoulder injury last summer. “It was tough for me, especially being my first tournament back. I focused on staying positive and just focusing on having fun. I’m lucky to be back on the court.”
In the Men’s Doubles Championship, top-seeds Damian Rodriguez of Princeton, N.J., and Ryan Seggerman of Coronado, defeated fifth-seeded Ivan Smith and Xavier Smith of Chula Vista, 6-4, 6-2. Cali Jankowski of Carlsbad, Calif., teamed with Danielle Willson of Newport Beach, Calif., for a 6-4, 6-3 victory over fourth-seeded Julia Deming of Fallbrook, Calif, and Haynes in the Women’s Doubles final.
Second-seeded Emmanuel Mensah of Chula Vista, Calif., and Hiromi Sasano of La Mesa, Calif., wrapped up the Mixed Doubles crown as they got past top-seeds Sabastiani Leon of San Diego and Curt Wheeler of Salem, Ore., 6-3, 6-2.
The USTA National Open Hard Court Championships was voted “Tournament of the Year” in 2011 by the San Diego District Tennis Association. The event has had several distinguished past champions and participants. U.S. Davis Cup star Jack Sock, who reached a career-high No. 8 in the ATP World Tour singles rankings last year, won the Men’s Singles Championship in 2010.
Coco Vandeweghe, a semifinalist at last year’s Australian Open and US Open, earned a USTA bronze ball at the 2007 Hard Court Championships. Former WTA touring professionals Gretchen Rush and Ros Nideffer won the Women’s Open Doubles title seven times, while Allison Bradshaw captured the Women’s Open Singles title in 2007.
The 2018 USTA National Open Hard Court Championships are sponsored by United States Tennis Association, San Diego District Tennis Association, CH Court Tech, San Diego Aviators, Kashi, Martinis Above Fourth | Table + Stage, Wilson and Graphic Interfaces.
USTA National Open Hard Court Championships
Balboa Tennis Club, San Diego
Men’s Singles Championship
Henry Craig (1), San Diego, def. Nicholas Reyes (5), West Hollywood, Calif., 6-1, 6-1
Oleksiy Arovin (9), Redmond, Wash., def. Jared Thompkins (17), San Diego, 6-0, 6-2
Men’s Doubles Championship
Damian Rodriguez, Princeton, N.J., and Ryan Seggerman (1), Coronado, def. Ivan Smith and Xavier Smith (5), Chula Vista, 6-4, 6-2
Women’s Singles Championship
Taylor Johnson (3), Redondo Beach, Calif., def. Julia Haynes (5), San Diego, 6-4, 6-2
Cali Jankowski (4), Carlsbad, def. Ashley Chang, Thornhill, Ontario, 6-1, 6-4
Women’s Doubles Championship
Cali Jankowski, Carlsbad and Danielle Willson, Newport Beach, Calif., def. Julia Deming, Fallbrook and Julia Haynes (4), San Diego, 6-4, 6-3
Mixed Open Doubles
Emmanuel Mensah, Chula Vista and Hiromi Sasano (2), La Mesa, def. Sabastiani Leon, San Diego, and Curt Wheeler (1), Salem, Ore., 6-3, 6-2
For complete tournament results, go to: