Delray Beach hosts USTA Boys' 18 & 16 National Clay Court Championship
Jul 05, 2023
Lachlan Gaskell’s father is from England and his grandparents live there. But the Wimbledon Championships won’t be the only tennis tournament they will be intently following during the week of July 9-16.
Lachlan Gaskell will be the No. 2 seed in the 16s draw for the USTA Clay Court National Championships that are being staged that week in Palm Beach County, and the rising high school sophomore from Delray Beach hopes to be playing on championship Sunday about the same time that the Wimbledon men’s finalists are taking the court on the other side of the Atlantic in London.
“I really want to do well, especially since it’s in Delray Beach,” Lachlan said after returning from Orlando following an early exit at an ITF tournament there recently. “I didn’t do great (in Orlando). Had a tough draw, but I learn from losses. It really motivates me to practice harder.”
Gaskell said that being able to sleep in his own bed will be a “definite advantage” but he also will be playing on courts he is familiar with – especially at the Delray Beach Tennis Center where he often practices should he reach the quarterfinals and beyond.
Gaskell, who recently turned 16, was born in Iowa – where there’s four distinct seasons, including below-freezing temps during the winter months – but he’s quickly adjusted to the South Florida heat and humidity since moving to Delray Beach two years ago and he said that the 90 degree-plus temperatures so prevalent here in mid-July might actually also be an advantage for him.
“I kind of like the heat. I’m used to it now,” Gaskell said, adding that he sandwiches practices 4-5 hours a day six days a week around his home-school studies.
Growing up in Fairfield, Iowa, a small town of about 10,000 residents, Gaskell said it was “kind of a fluke that my hometown had tennis courts” – thanks to the philanthropic donation of a wealthy resident. Football, basketball and wrestling are the most popular sports in that part of the country, but Gaskell said he became hooked on tennis after being introduced to the sport at about age 6.
“I had a natural forehand and just took to it,” he said. “And I had a good coach.”
As his game improved, a move to Florida and its year-round warm weather was imminent. Gaskell will be the highest-seeded player from Florida in either the 16s or 18s draw, and focused on claiming his first title of 2023.
The No. 1 seed in both the 16s and 18s are Californians. Cooper Han of Los Altos, Calif., is the top seed just ahead of Gaskell in the 16s, while Cassius Chinlund of Los Angeles has been seeded No. 1 in the boys 18s. Another South Floridian, Alex Baez of Weston, will be seeded No. 17 in the boys 16s. Two other players from Delray Beach – Mikel Anderson and Asror Ismoilov – are the only local players seeded in the boys 18s draw, both at No. 33.
More than 400 Juniors players from around the United States will be competing in the weeklong tournament, with 192 players in each of the 16s and 18s singles draw and 96 doubles teams in each division.
More than 75 college coaches and scouts are expected to attend the event, which will be staged at four different venues the first four days, with the Delray Beach Tennis Center – site of the ATP Tour’s annual Delray Beach Open — the site for matches the final three days, including the championship matches. Singles matches will begin at 8:15 a.m. daily, with doubles matches not to begin before noon at the four venues – the Delray Beach Tennis Center, Boca Raton Racquet Center, Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center and BallenIsles Country Club.
In addition, the Boys 16s & 18s Sportsmanship Award will be presented in honor of Jeff Rothstein, one of the most well-respected USTA referees who passed away earlier this year.
The City of Delray Beach is the official Host-Site sponsor. The South Florida BMW Centers is the sponsor of the daily Boys 18s Player of the Day. Baptist Health, which will provide medical services and support for the players, will present the daily Boys 16s Player of the Day. Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, and Waterdrop, which impacts the way people worldwide drink water for a healthier, more sustainable life, also are major sponsors this year.
The official draws and schedule will be posted Friday, July 7. For more information, visit YellowTennisBall.com/NationalClays. Admission is free to all matches.
Sunday, July 9 – Wednesday, July 12: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18), Boca Raton Racquet Center (B18), Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center (B16) and BallenIsles Country Club (B16)
Thursday, July 13: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18), Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center (B16)
Friday, July 14 – Sunday, July 16: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18 & B16)
Written by: Steve Dorsey; Source/Photos: YellowTennisBall.com/NationalClays; For complete draws, including match times, locations and results, click here. Pictured above in the first two photos: Nicholas Heng, last year’s Boys 18 Champion (Auburn Shirt), and, Stiles Brockett, last year’s Boys 16 Champion (blue/teal adidas shirt)