It took a wild card to get Samantha Crawford into the U.S. Open. Once in the gate, the 17-year-old Atlanta native never left.
Crawford defeated Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 7-5, 6-3, yesterday to win the U.S. Open girls championship. At 6-2, Crawford is as big as Maria Sharapova. She doesn't yet have Sharapova's power, but she had plenty of sting in her serve and ground strokes to come up with a comfortable win. Taylor Townsend, the American who is the No. 1 world-ranked junior girl, was beaten by Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. Townsend won the 2012 Australian juniors.
"I always kind of went for my shots whether or not they went in, [that] was the problem," Crawford said. "I've gotten better with staying in points and being able to set up points, then going for my shots from there."
Crawford broke Kontaveit in the 11th game and served out the 12th for the first set. She broke Kontaveit in the first game of the second, held serve throughout and broke Kontaveit in the ninth game for the title.
She got a wild card into the Open qualifying tournament after a third-round finish in the Australian Open juniors and a final and semifinal finish in two entry-level pro events. The high school senior from Tamarac, Fla., has retained her amateur status and is working at the USTA Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.
Crawford won three qualifying matches to set up a first-round match with Britain's Laura Robson, the highly regarded 18-year-old who then beat Kim Clijsters and Li Na. Crawford lost in two sets to Robson, but she held a set point in the second-set tiebreaker before losing.