Girls from at least 35 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will be in Rome for the United States Tennis Association Girls’ 14 National Championships.
The youngsters will be vying for the title which has been won by such tennis dignitaries as Chris Evert and Tracy Austin.
Hayley Carter, who led the University of North Carolina to a NCAA national championship, and Sofia Kenin, who has a career rank as high as 28th in the world, are also among the previous winners.
Among the 192 registered competitors for the championship this year are Stephanie Yakoff from Fort Lee, New Jersey, who was the runner-up at the 2019 USTA 14 Clay Court Championships, and rising eighth-grader Alexia Harmon, from Las Vegas, who was the third place consolation winner in the 2018 Girls’ 12 championships.
Yakoff has been tapped as the tournament’s top seed this year, followed by Kinaa Graham from Austin, Texas; Theadora Rabman out of Port Washington, New York; Harmon; and Lamija Avdic from Kirkland, Washington.
Some of the young ladies arrived early in the week to get accustomed to the weather conditions and many were in town by Thursday, including the No. 2 seed Graham, to take advantage of hitting sessions with staff at the tennis center.
Carla Pacot, from Rancho Cucamonga, California, is one of those who arrived early to get in some practice time.
Her father, Carlo Pacot, said his daughter has been serious about tennis for almost three years now and works out about six hours a day while being home-schooled.
She will be entering the ninth grade this year.
“We decided that maybe she is going to be a serious player,” Carlo said. “She trains very hard.”
In the last two years Pacot has worked her way up to the No. 1 14 player in the Southern California district. She steamrolled the opposition in winning the USTA Southern California sectionals in June, dropping just one set in the entire tournament. Her father said she definitely has ambitions of becoming a professional one day.
Pacot shares that dream with almost 200 young ladies who are in Rome this week, competing in both singles and doubles play, against some of the top young tennis players from across the country.
First round action starts Saturday morning and continues through Saturday, Aug. 10.