Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - — Har­vey Fialkov

Alexis Blokhina of Plan­ta­tion moved from Cal­i­for­nia three years ago to train with renowned coach Nick Sa­viano at Vel­tri. set and kind of loos­ened up,’’ said Blokhina, who’s ranked fifth in the 12s na­tion­ally. “I per­se­vered in the sec­ond set to get through it by just mak­ing one more ball back than her. I tried to get in her head, not in a mean way, but just pump my­self up and give my­self the best chance to win.’’

Blokhina con­stantly talks USTA NA­TIONAL CLAY COURT CHAM­PI­ONSHIPS Through Sun­day The best ju­nior tennis play­ers in Amer­ica will be com­pet­ing for pres­ti­gious gold balls in the var­i­ous age groups.The boys’ 18 win­ner re­ceived a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open ju­niors event.

Boys 14s are at Jimmy Evert Tennis Cen­ter and Laud­erdale Tennis Club in Fort Laud­erdale; Girls 14s are at Vel­tri Tennis Cen­ter in Boca Ra­ton; Girls 12s are at the Polo Club in Boca Ra­ton; Boys 16s and 18s will be mostly at the Delray Beach Tennis Cen­ter, but also at Bro­ken Sound Coun­try Club, Boca West Coun­try Club, Wood­field Coun­try Club, Club at Boca Pointe and Seven Bridges Tennis Cen­ter.

Free and open to pub­lic. to her­self on the court with a va­ri­ety of self-ex­hor­ta­tions, like, “Come on!’’ and the Rus­sian ver­sion of “Davai, davai!’’ that she seems to chant at the same time as her Rus­sian-born mother, Lyana, does from the gallery.

“I get my ath­letic genes from my father [Oleg], who played soccer, and my feisti­ness from my mother,’’ smiled Blokhina, who reached the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Easter Bowl 12s and has won two Level 2 na­tional 12s events since May.

Also, cheer­ing Blokhina on was her grand­mother, Galina Rad­chenko, and 10-year-old brother Nathan, a ris­ing star in the 12s who would’ve played in the Na­tional Clay Courts in Or­lando if he wasn’t nurs­ing a sore shoul­der.

Blokhina, who turns 13 in a few weeks, could’ve opted to play in the Girls 12 Na­tional Clay Courts in Boca Ra­ton this week, but she pre­ferred the chal­lenge of play­ing up. So far it has paid off as she rolled through the third set with hardly an un­forced er­ror, while paint­ing the cor­ners to frus­trate Kader, the third-ranked player from Cincin­nati who usu­ally plays 16s tour­na­ments.

“Dur­ing the break be­fore the third set I could tell how ex­cited she was just to go into the third set,’’ said coach Mar­cus Fluitt, a for­mer ATP pro who works at Sa­viano’s High Per­for­mance Acad­emy. “She has a lot of heart and is a great com­peti­tor. She loves the


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