Attention Readers: We're Back
C&G Newspapers is pleased to have resumed publication. For the time being, our papers will publish on a biweekly basis as we work toward our return to weekly papers. In between issues, and anytime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

West Bloomfield resident wins prestigious tournament

By: Christian Davis | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 14, 2016

 West Bloomfield resident Denali Kitayama won the 16-and-under United States Tennis Association Midwest Closed Junior Championship June 30 in Indianapolis.

West Bloomfield resident Denali Kitayama won the 16-and-under United States Tennis Association Midwest Closed Junior Championship June 30 in Indianapolis.

Photo by Matt Gottfried, USTA/Midwest Section

Advertisement

WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield resident and tennis ace Denali Kitayama recently proved that seeding in a tournament is just a number.

Kitayama entered the 16-and-under United States Tennis Association Midwest Closed Junior Championship as the No. 28 seed and left the court with little doubt that he was the best.

Kitayama won the prestigious tournament June 30 in Indianapolis, Indiana, winning seven matches in the process, including victories against the No. 1 seed in the semifinal and the No. 2 for the title.

There were 128 players in the field, and Kitayama said it was his quarterfinal win that had him start believing he could take the title.

“That was my first upset. I beat the No. 4 seed pretty easily, so that boosted my confidence,” Kitayama said.

The soon-to-be Walled Lake Central junior then beat the top-ranked player 2-6, 7-6, 6-2.

“I never lost confidence. After I beat the No.1 seed, I knew there was no way I was going to lose in the final. I was 100 percent positive from the beginning,” he said.

The title came with some drama. After losing the first set 2-6, Kitayama faced down two match points in the second before coming back for a 7-6 victory.

“I wasn’t giving up,” Kitayama said. “After those two match points, I started being more aggressive and hitting way more winners.”

He kept the momentum going into the third and dominated in a 6-2 win for the title.

When the final point was tallied, Kitayama said his thoughts were with all of those who have helped him along the way.  

“All the hard work and all the people that supported me my whole tennis career, especially Yonex, my sponsor, my father (Nova) taught me how to play tennis, and my mother (Hilomi) helping me travel a lot,” Kitayama said, adding that he trains out of the Sports Club of Novi. “That’s all I could think about after I won the tournament.”

This was the sixth time Kitayama had competed in the tournament. His previous best was making the quarterfinal round.

He said he’s an aggressive player with his forehand and that some day he hopes his tournament wins and style of play lead him to the University of Michigan.

“It’d be my dream to play as a Wolverine,” he said.

Also in action, West Bloomfield High’s Anika Yarlagadda, who won a Division 1 state championship as a freshman this past spring, finished second in the 18-U girls division of the tournament.

Advertisement