The biggest win of Ashley Kratzer's young tennis career did not come easy.
The Newport Beach resident lost a 4-0 lead in the final set of the United States Tennis Assn. Girls' 18s National Championships match on Sunday. Kelly Chen of Cerritos won four straight games to level the set.
But from there, Kratzer powered through. Soon, she will be able to pack her bags for New York.
No. 3-seeded Kratzer rallied for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 33-seeded Chen in the Girls' 18s National Championships title match at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. With the win, Kratzer has earned a wild-card entry into the main draw at the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 28.
"It feels absolutely amazing," said Kratzer, a left-hander who turned pro last December, of the victory in a release. "I was not expecting to win the whole tournament. I set a goal just to get to the semis. To actually win is amazing. I was playing some of my best tennis. I'm so excited to be in the U.S. Open. It's always been a dream of mine. I'm really looking forward to that."
The Girls' 18s title match was broadcast live on the Tennis Channel, which wasn't lost on Kratzer.
"It was a little nerve-racking at first," she said. "I was a little nervous. It was really cool that Tennis Channel was here. It's nice to see that [girls'] tournaments are being televised. It was an amazing experience. I thought the crowd was awesome."
Kratzer is ranked No. 344 in the world and has played in several ITF tournaments this year, most recently making the quarterfinals in Baton Rouge, La. in June.
The Girls' 18s championships were a 256-player draw. Kratzer did not drop a set on the way to the final. She beat No. 6-seeded Michaela Gordon of Northern California, 7-5, 7-5, in the quarterfinals and topped No. 8 Whitney Osuigwe of Florida, 7-6, 6-0, in the semifinals.