published Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Desiatnikov, Wood win titles

The girls’ champion in the 12-under USTA National Open is only 10 years old.

Abigail  Desiatnikov, from Gates Mills, Ohio, prepares to swing the ball during her finals match against opponent Alexandria Sanford, from Westerville, Ohio, Monday morning at the Champions Club in Hixson, Tenn. Young tennis players from around the country competed in the UTSA National Open 12-and-under boys and girls from Saturday to Monday.
Abigail Desiatnikov, from Gates Mills, Ohio, prepares to swing the ball during her finals match against opponent Alexandria Sanford, from Westerville, Ohio, Monday morning at the Champions Club in Hixson, Tenn. Young tennis players from around the country competed in the UTSA National Open 12-and-under boys and girls from Saturday to Monday.
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Fiesty and formidable 10-year-old Abigail Desiatnikov of Gates Mills, Ohio, completed her march through the girls’ draw at the Champions Club on Monday.

The third-seeded Desiatnikov, who stands a little over 4 feet tall, blew right through No. 2 seed Alexandra Sanford of Westerville, Ohio, to win the USTA National Open 12-and-under tennis tournament.

Desiatnikov didn’t drop a set in the event, cruising past Sanford 6-2, 6-2. She had beat Sanford by the same score in the semis of a tournament in Michigan last week.

“I played really well last week, so I think I expected to win this tournament,” said Desiatnikov, who won’t turn 11 until January.

Despite Desiatnikov’s lack of size — she’s at least 6 inches shorter than Sanford — her groundstrokes didn’t lack for power. However, she also played a variety of shots, including an effective drop shot that kept Sanford off balance.

“Before the point, I don’t think about what I’m going to do,” Desiatnikov said. “I just do it.”

In the boys’ final, No. 2 seed Chase Wood of Knoxville knocked off top-seeded Trice Pickens of Cary, N.C., 6-4, 6-3. It was a hard-fought match that was closer than the straight-set score, with both players firing hard groundstrokes.

“It was a difficult match, tiring,” Wood said. “I’ve never won one of these [national] tournaments before, so I guess it’s pretty big.”

Monday was a big day for the Wood family. Chase’s brother Nick won the 18-and-under National Open in Lexington, Ky.

Chase and his father Donie, a former No. 1 player at the University of Arkansas, drove back and forth from Knoxville each morning during the tournament. Meanwhile, mother Shari, who played at the University of Tennessee, was in Lexington with Nick.

Also in action during the holiday weekend was middle son Matt, who was playing in a baseball tournament at Cleveland State.

“It’s definitely been busy for all of us,” Wood said.

This was the 11th straight year that the National Open has been held at the Champions Club. The event moves to Yale University in New Haven, Conn., next year.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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