Epiphany Turner didn't give herself much of a chance in the Dennis Van der Meer Southern Junior Championships. Her goal, she said, was to win a couple of matches and try to avoid the loser's bracket.
She did a little better than that.
Turner upset fourth-seeded Ashley Kitchen, 6-3, 6-3, in Monday morning's championship match to win the girls 18-and-under bracket at Van Der Meer Tennis Center. The tournament is formerly known as the Sea Pines Rosie Gwynn Junior Championships.
Turner finished the tournament 5-0 -- in those five matches, she defeated three of the bracket's top-five seeds.
"In the first couple of rounds, I started beating girls I normally lose to, and I just thought, 'Maybe I can actually win this,'" said Turner, who is originally from Memphis but has trained at Van Der Meer since August. "Today, this is the best match I have ever played. It's unbelievable I won."
Turner said she relied on her forehand to carry her through points, but mostly it was her aggressive strategy that helped her against Kitchen, who won the previous time the two met.
Brent Lett had a few more shots in his arsenal. Lett cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win against Hilton Head Prep product Jared Woodson to win the boys 16-and-under division.
Often meeting over the past four years, the two have created a longtime rivalry. Lett, 15, is one year older than Woodson, and he had the upper hand Monday morning.
Lett highlighted his win with a perfect lob over a charging Woodson followed by a backhand winner that painted the line. The two points gave him a 3-0 lead in the second set and squashed any chance of Woodson mounting a late comeback.
"I think that's the point that sealed (the match)," Lett said of the lob. "I felt like I wasn't missing anything. I didn't make many errors today -- maybe 11 or 12 and that's it. I played as well as I could play."
Nicholas Kunz ensured the day wasn't a total loss for Hilton Head Prep players. Kunz, a senior at Prep, earned a hard-fought three-set win against Andrew Schafer, who trains at Smith-Sterns Academy. Kunz won the boys 18-and-under finals 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
After using an overpowering serve to race through the opening set, Kunz was forced to scrape and claw his way through the rest of the match. Kunz said nerves played a factor in the second-set loss, but he was able to bounce back in he third.
"It was definitely a tough match, and I played really well," Kunz said "I got really tight there, but I was able to relax and calm down a little bit to get back on track."
The tournament crowned eight champions Monday. In addition to Turner, Kunz and Lett, Alexander Miller (boys 14), Alexander Yang (boys 12), Laura Dean (girls 16), Madeline Rolph (girls 14) and Vanessa Streng (girls 12) took home first-place trophies.
Dennis Van der Meer Southern Junior Championships
Finals, Van Der Meer Tennis Center
Boys 18: Nicholas Kunz def. Andrew Schafer 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Boys 16: Brent Lett def. Jared Woodson 6-1, 6-0
Boys 14: Alexander Miller def. Carsten Fisher 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)
Boys 12: Alexander Yang def. Paul Hendrix 6-2, 6-1
Girls 18: Epiphany Turner def. Ashley Kitchen 6-3, 6-3
Girls 16: Laura Dean def. Ashley Bridges 4-6, 6-0, 6-4
Girls 14: Madeline Rolph def. Amanda Rehol 6-1, 7-6 (7-5)
Girls 12: Vanessa Streng def. Isabelle Boulais 6-4, 6-1