NEW YORK – Santa Barbara’s Kayla Day lived a dream Sunday in New York City.
The 16-year-old won the U.S. Open Junior girls singles championship and learned she would become the No. 1-ranked junior girls tennis player in the world.
Day, the No. 5-seed, defeated 13th-seeded Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-2, on the Grandstand Court at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center. She later was notified in the post-match press conference that the new International Tennis Federation junior rankings that come out Monday will have her name at the top spot.
“These were like the best two weeks of my life,” said Day after the match. “Every day was great. I had so much fun every single day, and it was just a great experience overall.”
Day showed amazing resiliency coming back from a tough three-set semifinal win in singles on Saturday, and then falling in the doubles final later that evening after holding two championship points.
“I think I was really able to mentally set aside what had happened last night and just move on, because I knew I had a really important match today,” she said. “I knew I had to forget about it, and that’s what I did.”
She added: “I think I’m pretty good about, you know, leaving the past behind me and just focusing on being in the moment.”
Day is also the first American to win here since 2012 (Samantha Crawford) and joins a list of champions that includes Grand Slam women’s champions Victoria Azarenka, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
Day is the first from Santa Barbara to win a U.S. Open junior singles title since Tim Trigueiro did it back in 1985.
In the doubles final on Saturday night, Day and Caroline Dolehide lost to Americans Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara in a match tiebreak, 4-6, 6-2, (13-11).
Earlier this summer, Day won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild-card berth into the main draw of the U.S. Open. She defeated Madison Brengle before losing to No. 8-seeded Madison Keys in three sets. In June, Day advanced to the semifinals of the Wimbledon juniors.