Kempenaers-Pocz, Schoolkate claim 18/u Australian titles
Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and Tristan Schoolkate claim singles crowns at the 18/u Australian Championships.
Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz capped a dream week by winning the 18/u Australian Championships girls singles title.
The 15-year-old from South Australia, who as a wildcard entry had stormed into the final without dropping a set, secured the title when a back injury forced Natasha Russell to retire with their final locked at one-set all.
After losing the opening set 4-6, Kempenaers-Pocz bounced back strongly to claim the second 6-2.
“I was a bit nervous at the start and Tash was playing extremely well, so I just had to stay in there,” Kempenaers-Pocz told tennis.com.au.
“I knew before the match she was struggling a bit with injury, but I didn’t think too much of it because she was still hitting a lot of winners.”
When a tearful Russell retired, Kempenaers-Pocz was overcome with emotion. After comforting her opponent, she celebrated with her family and coaching team.
A finalist in the 14/u Australian Championships last year, Kempenaers-Pocz is now the 18/u national champion. She joins an illustrious list of former champions, including world No.1 Ash Barty who also won the title as a 15-year-old.
“(My expectations) weren’t very high. I just wanted to do my best, stay composed, stay strong and play every match as it comes,” Kempenaers-Pocz said of her week.
“Even being a wildcard, this makes me realise I can still achieve what I want.”
That mindset bodes well for next week’s Australian Open 2020 Play-off, with Kempenaers-Pocz earning a place in the draw after securing the 18/u national title.
“It’s a big achievement. I didn’t think I’d be doing this at 15, so I’m really happy,” she said.
Earlier in the day, top seed Tristan Schoolkate posted a 6-2 7-5 victory over Dane Sweeny in the 18/u Australian Championships boys’ singles final.
“It was a great week and topped it off with some great tennis today, so I’m very happy with my performance,” Schoolkate said.
After winning the 18/u doubles title alongside Sweeny yesterday, Schoolkate was prepared for a tough battle.
“I always knew it was going to be tough, I always have close battles with Dane. He’s a great player, so I’m happy I played my best tennis of the week today,” Schoolkate said.
“I had a strong first set. He played some good tennis early in the second – but I clawed it back and played really well towards the end.”
The 18-year-old from Western Australia now turns his attention to the Australian Open 2020 Play-off. Schoolkate is a wildcard entry, a reward for an impressive 2019 season that included third-round runs in both the Wimbledon and US Open boys’ singles draws.
Unbeaten in nine matches across both singles and doubles at the December Showdown this week, Schoolkate’s confidence is high.
“I’m happy I got a lot of matches in and I’m playing good tennis,” he said. “I definitely fancy myself a chance in any match I play.”