Current UCLA freshmen Jada Hart & Ena Shibahara survived two match points, capturing the U.S. Open Junior Girls Doubles Championship in dramatic fashion at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Given a wild card entry into the tournament by the USTA, Hart & Shibahara came back to defeat the American team of Kayla Day & Caroline Dolehide on the Grandstand Court, 4-6, 6-2, 13-11. It was the first time since 1992 that there was an all-American Girls Doubles Final.
Just last month, Hart & Shibahara defeated Day & Dolehide in the quarterfinals of the USTA National 18s Hardcourts in San Diego and went on to win the tournament. By virtue of that win, Hart & Shibahara were also given a wild card into the women’s main draw of the 2016 U.S. Open. The pair lost to the seventh-seeded team in the world, Sania Mirza & Barbora Strycova, at the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
Hart & Shibahra, who have been playing together off and on since the age of 11, dropped just two sets in the tournament and upset the number one seeds, Russia's Olesya Pervushina & Anastasia Potapova, in the first round of the U.S. Open Juniors.
“That was definitely a huge confidence booster for us,” Hart said of the opening round victory. “And just having the experience of playing in the main draw, and then beating then beating the top seeds … we knew we could beat anyone after that.”
Added Shibahara of playing in a third-set tie-breaker, “The tie-breaker was extremely close, and we were all so nervous. But I think we were able to handle our emotions and stay loose. Anything can happen in a 10-point tie-breaker.”
With Day & Dolehide leading 9-8 and Day serving, Day hit the one and only double fault for their team in the match. With Day & Dolehide leading 10-9 on Shibahara’s serve, Shibahara came up big with a down-the-line shot that Day wasn’t able to return at the net.