NEW YORK—On the same day Serena Williams lost her grip on the No. 1 spot, an American 18 years younger than her ascended to the top of the junior rankings. Last week, Kayla Day became the first American girl to win a junior Grand Slam since Samantha Crawford at the 2012 U.S. Open, snapping a 15-major streak of non-American champions.
Other than being a lefty, the most telling quality that sets Day apart from the other countless juniors vying for future greatness is her confidence. You can even see it in the way she walks—be it on court, around the grounds or in the pressroom.
The Santa Barbara resident captured her first major title in dominating fashion, defeating Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-3, 6-2, in the final. The 16-year-old had to rely heavily on her confidence and mental game to keep herself together. Partnered with Caroline Dolehide, she had suffered an emotional defeat the night before in the doubles final, double faulting on match point in a 13-11 deciding tiebreaker loss to fellow Americans Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara.