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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Juniors conclude USTA play

Advertiser Staff

WAIPAHU Hawai'i's annual peek at what's possible in junior tennis concluded yesterday with Lena Litvak and Christopher Madden winning singles titles in the USTA National Open at Central O'ahu Regional Park's Tennis Complex.

Litvak, the top-seeded girl, defeated seventh-seeded Allison Ramos, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), in the final. Litvak, born in the Ukraine and raised in the Bronx of New York, will take her brain and game to Harvard in the fall. Her dream between now and then is to qualify for a Grand Slam.

She takes the train 90 minutes upstate after school each day to work on her game, getting home after 10 p.m. She missed 95 days of school last year to play in tournaments, improving her junior ranking enough to get scholarship offers from several colleges.

She settled on an Ivy League school that is a tennis power though it offers no athletic scholarships. Litvak's success worldwide in tennis (she upped her International Tennis Federation ranking from 150 to 110 since September) and across the board in accelerated studies like chemistry, calculus and Italian (she can understand five languages) hooked Harvard.

Twelfth-seeded Madden beat unseeded Blake Wardman, 6-2, 6-3, to win the boys' title. Wardman, one of 45 players from Southern California here, got to the final by beating Kane'ohe's Daniel Llarenas in the first round and Kamuela's Holden Ching in the third.

Ching, headed to the University of Washington on a scholarship, was the only Hawai'i boy to win a first-round match other than Spencer Mendoza, who recently moved to the Big Island from Washington. State high school champion Mikey Lim reached the third round of consolation and Skyler Tateishi the third round of the qualifier.

The girls fared a bit better. Two-time state high school champion Kalei Gora, seeded fifth, reached the third round. Punahou freshman Kristin Lim Mikey's sister also won two matches before falling to Litvak. Sophomore teammate Nicole Nakaoka won in the first round, then lost to Gora.