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YOUTH TENNIS: Level 2 tournament wraps up with more on the way

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Anuj Watane eyes the ball prior to hitting a return during the boys' 18 singles finals against Samuel Rubell at the USTA July National Level 2 Tournament on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. Watane won 6-1, 6-4. / Jeremy Stewart

The 16 and 18 boys’ and girls’ singles finals were played at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College on the eve of the Fourth of July with athletes from near and far testing themselves and their opponents at one of the higher-level tournaments in the country.

Anuj Watane, a rising senior from Orlando, Florida, defeated Miami Beach’s Samuel Rubell 6-1, 6-4 in the boys’ 18s championship to cap his stay in Rome.

“It’s a really great tournament. This is a really nice facility,” Watane said. “I think I came out a bit more steady in the first set and was able to get a quick break to go up 3-0 quickly. I was playing really steady today.”

Rome Tennis Center executive director Tom Daglis was excited to be able to host the second Level 2 national tournament this summer, which included more than 250 competitors from 29 states as well as Puerto Rico and British Columbia.

Up next for the RTC will be hosting the USTA Georgia Junior Open from July 14-17, a tournament Daglis said is expected to host around 600 players.

Then the Georgia State Clocktower Classic Wheelchair Tennis Championships will be held July 20-22, followed by the USTA Girls’ 14s Level 1 National Championships from Aug. 4-11.

A tennis player since he was 4, Watane said he gained some confidence from his performance in the finals Tuesday after playing through two tough matches Monday.

“In the second match, both my opponent and I were cramping,” he said. “I probably spent around six hours on court yesterday. So to come out today and play like this, it helps my confidence.”

Watane and Rubell, like all of the singles finalists in the past weekend’s tournament, qualified for the national tournaments in August.

Hillsborough, California’s Anna Campana recovered from a 6-3 first-set loss to Kennedy Bridgforth from Bradenton, Florida, to win 6-1 in the second set and then take the third-set tiebreaker 10-7 in the girls’ 18s final.

Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara, California, won the boys’ 16s draw with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Maxwell Smith from Daniel Island, South Carolina. The girls’ 16s final was won by Elaine Chervinsky of Boca Raton, Florida, with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Brooke Killingsworth from Arkansas.

Watane said he’ll look forward to competing in the USTA Boys’ 18 and 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Florida, the week of July 15 before taking a break and going to the boys’ nationals in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The girls’ finalists are eligible for the USTA Girls’ 18 and 16 National Championships in San Diego, California from Aug. 4-12. The tournament was recently renamed in honor of American tennis legend Billie Jean King.