Surprise Finalist Becomes Surprise Winner in 16 Singles Title Match
Helgeson dominated the match from the beginning, taking a 3-0 lead in the first set before the crowd even settled into their seats. Mirzadeh held and then broke back, but that was as close as he would come in the match. Mirzadeh, who rode his solid serve/receive game to the 16s doubles championship Saturday evening, was kept off-balance by Helgeson's powerful lefty kick serve. Helgeson was able to dictate points throughout the match with his forehand, and he was able to neutralize Mirzadeh's deadly groundstrokes by feeding him hard, deep backhand slices that Mirzadeh could not hit for winners. With all of his weapons misfiring, Mirzadeh seemed baffled as to the best way to halt Helgeson's momentum. He trailed Helgeson one set and 5-1. But Mirzadeh reconnected with his competitive nature and was able to hold serve even without his best game. Serving for the set at 5-2, Helgeson had his first match point up 40-30, but his forehand sailed long and Mirzadeh had new life. He staved off another match point before breaking Helgeson for 5-3. Mirzadeh came close to finding his championship tennis in his next service game. Falling behind 0-30, he cranked up the pressure on Helgeson and was rewarded by a string of Helgeson errors to reach deuce. Helgeson responded like a champion, raising his own play. Mirzadeh needed three game points before he took the game and cut Helgeson's lead to 5-4. Helgeson showed no signs of the nerves expected of a young player in the biggest match of his tennis career as he closed out the match with a love service game.
Prior to Sunday's final, the biggest match of Helgeson's junior career came at the 2002 USTA Super National Clay Court Championships in July. Helgeson lost in the quarterfinals there to number one seedMykyta Kryvonos of Flushing NY 6-3, 7-6(5). A few weeks later, Helgeson got the chance to return the favor. He defeated Kryvonos, seeded 16th, in the quarterfinals at Kalamazoo 6-3, 6-2 en route to his championship victory.