Unseeded Samantha Crawford of Atlanta won the 2012 United States Open Junior Girls’ Championship on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.
After a shaky beginning, in which both players traded service breaks and unforced errors, Kontaveit, 16, opened up a 4-2 lead in the first set, but Crawford soon took control of the match, winning five of the six remaining games of the set with powerful forehand and backhand winners.
“She played so well today,” Kontaveit said, “it was so hard to break her, even though there were a lot of breaks in the first set, she was just serving too well at the end of the set.” Crawford saw the match differently. “I thought she came out playing really well and kind of forced me to play better,” she said.
Kontaveit, seeded 12th, struggled with erratic play, hitting well-placed winners but double-faulting at key moments, five times in the first set and four times in the second. Despite her loss in the final, the Estonian said her quarterfinal defeat of the world’s top-ranked junior, Taylor Townsend of Boca Raton, Fla., had boosted her belief in her ability to compete at the highest level.
“I showed myself I could play so well and beat number one in the world in juniors,” she said. “It felt great to be in the final, and I really enjoyed it even though I lost.” Crawford, 17, who was entered on a wild card granted by the United States Tennis Association, served six aces and only two double faults. “I think as the match went on,” she said, “I started serving better and kind of making more shots and playing better overall.”
Played on Court 11 before about 120 spectators, the match was Crawford’s sixth victory of the tournament. In the third round, she survived a 6-0 first-set loss to Sachia Vickery of Bradenton, Fla., winning the two final sets 6-1, 6-3. “I felt like after that I kind of just was playing more freely and wasn’t worried about anything,” she said. “I couldn’t do any worse than that.”
On Sunday, she did a lot better.