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Photo Gallery | PHOTOS | Taylor Townsend, 15, of Stockbridge wins junior girls title at Australian Open

 

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Fifteen-year-old Taylor Townsend wasn't intimidated by playing the most important match of her young tennis career at 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

In fact, she took a souvenir so she could remember the experience.

"I was actually surprised that I saw four towels, like two towels on one seat, two towels on the other," she said. "I was like, 'Whoa, I'm gonna snag these.' That's exactly what I did."

Townsend, a native of Stockbridge, Georgia, took home a couple of trophies, as well.

She defeated Yulia Putintseva of Russia 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on Saturday to win the girls' singles event at the Australian Open, a day after she and partner Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, California, won the girls' doubles title.

When she closed out her singles' victory, Townsend burst into tears on court.

"Tears of joy," she said afterward. "It's a dream come true for me, you know. A lot of people were supporting me, and my family and everything are just so proud. It was just a proud moment for me and … the feelings kind of rushed in."

Townsend, who was discovered and initially coached by the parents of American player Donald Young, said she wouldn't have made the trip Down Under if she hadn't been confident she could win the title, even though she's a couple of years younger than many of the other competitors.

"That's a belief that I had in myself, but, I mean, definitely when I got through the quarterfinals, I was like, 'You have three more matches and you can win this.'"

Townsend's current coach, former top 10 player Kathy Rinaldi, said that she's been training with her full-time in Florida and it's sometimes been difficult for her to be away from home.

"I said, 'It takes some sacrifices and it will pay off for you,'" Rinaldi said. "And she goes 'I'm trusting you.' And it paid off for her this week."

In her down time in Melbourne this week, Townsend has been checking out some of the top pros on court. But she's not that interested in watching the women play.

"I definitely watch the men more. I stayed up watching Federer-Nadal," she said. "I honestly couldn't believe the shots that Federer was hitting, and I couldn't believe that Nadal was getting them back."