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TENNIS: Federal Way's Mitch Stewart splits a pair of matches at U.S. Open
Federal Way High School junior Mitch Stewart had quite a summer on tennis courts around the United States. The defending Class 4A state singles champion played in tournaments all over the nation in the past few months, from Florida to Michigan to Washington.
But Stewart got the ultimate thrill for a tennis player in America last week when he played at the U.S. Open Junior Boys’ Tournament at the massive USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. The tournament is for players 18 and under.
Stewart finished 1-1 at his first-ever appearance in Queens. The 16-year-old beat Canada’s Brayden Schnur in the opening round of the junior boys’ qualifying draw in a three-setter, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, before being knocked out of the tournament in the second round by Portugal’s Vasco Mensurado in an extremely close match, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
Mensurado, who came into the match as the fifth seed, won just two more points during the entire three sets, 109-107. Stewart, who was unseeded, made just one unforced error during the match and double-faulted only once.
Against Schnur, Stewart dominated after a shaky first set, winning 12 of the final 15 games.
Earlier in the summer, Stewart added another huge title to his trophy case when he won the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Boys 16s National Clay Court Championship.
Stewart beat 13th-seeded Baker Newman, who hails from Miami, in the championship, 6-1, 6-2, at the Delray Beach International Tennis Center in Florida.
Stewart, who is ranked fifth in the country by the USTA and 9th on the AthleticDNA College Recruiting List, became the first player from Washington to win a clay court boys’ 16-under title since the tournament began in 1967.
The title came on the heels of Stewart rolling through the 2012 season unbeaten at Federal Way. His sophomore season culminated with the Class 4A state championship at the Columbia Basin Racquet Club in the Tri-Cities last spring.
He beat Skyview’s Kent Andreasen in the final, 6-2, 6-3, to finish the year 25-0.
The win gave Stewart the state title that eluded him as a freshman. Stewart lost his only high school match of his two-year career to Jackson’s Michael Chamerski in the 4A championship. In total, Stewart is 50-1 at Federal Way.
Stewart has already narrowed his college choices to four of the most powerful programs in the nation — Duke, Georgia, UCLA and Washington.
Stewart has elected not to play tennis at Federal Way High School during the fall. Instead, he is competing on the Eagle cross country team, where his coach, Chris Williams, said he has the potential to finish in the top-10 at the Class 4A state meet.