MANATEE -- On match point, Reilly Opelka did what came so easily for the 6-foot-10 player during Sunday's Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships boys 18 final: He uncorked a scorching serve past opponent Michael Mmoh.
That ace, his 16th of the match, capped Opelka's first Herr singles championship in front of a large crowd at IMG Academy.
He defeated Mmoh, the tournament's No. 2 seed, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, to become the first American to win the boys 18s division since 2009. Opelka and Mmoh played the first all-American final in the division's Herr history.
A big key for Opelka was his service, which was only broken twice all week, including once Saturday by Mmoh.
"It's my best shot," said the unseeded Opelka, who hit one serve so hard it lodged in the net. "Without that, I wouldn't want to be in a scrap with him from the baseline."
The 17-year-old Opelka, who trains at the USTA facility in Boca Raton and has played the Herr since he was 11, never dropped a set on his championship run.
But Opelka isn't just a one-trick pony with a massive serve.
In Sunday's final against the red-hot Mmoh, who has reached the final of every tournament in which he has competed since October, Opelka displayed soft hands at the net and nimble movement to track down drop shots in the front court.
"I move pretty well, better on clay than hard," said Opelka, who beat Mmoh for the second time this year. "I've just always been kind of athletic."
After earning the first set through a break and holding his service games, Opelka and Mmoh battled in the decisive second set.
In the opening game, Opelka and Mmoh played seven points at deuce, and Mmoh fought off six break points to win the game. Later, Opelka gained a break to make it 3-2.
At that point, Mmoh changed shirts, and the new one happened to be the same type and color scheme that Opelka had on from the outset. The two even sported the same shorts.
The move worked for Mmoh briefly as he gained the break right back.
But Opelka returned the favor and closed Mmoh out three games later.
Opelka's all-around game even had Mmoh quipping aloud, "This guy hasn't missed volleys since birth," following Opelka garnering match point at the net.
"He was definitely hitting his spots," Mmoh said. "He wasn't just serving and hoping for the best. He kind of was serving and knowing where I was going to hit the return, playing with a game plan with his serve and very tough. Even sometimes, I'd get the return in, but then he'd play a great point. So he was putting a lot of pressure on me, and he was really hitting his spots well."
The girls 18s division also was decided in straight sets. Hungary's Dalma Galfi earned a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Romania's Elena Ruse.
"I came here really tired after the two weeks in Mexico, so I didn't expect anything like this," Galfi said.
Ruse picked up a hamstring injury earlier in the week when she knocked off top-seeded Catherine "CiCi" Bellis and said she could feel pain during Sunday's warm-ups. During the second set, Ruse exited in mid-game when it was 2-2 to have a trainer stretch the back of her left hamstring.
"I can't play the backhand," Ruse said. "When I hit the backhand, (it hurt)."
In the 16s, top-seeded Sam Riffice earned a 7-6 (3), 6-1 win against fellow American Patrick Kypson to take the boys title. Second-seeded Sofia Sewing bested fellow American Dominque Schaefer, 6-2, 7-6 (5), for the girls title.
In the 14s, Colombia's Nicolas Mejia collected his first Herr title in five attempts when he dusted off American Brian Shi, 6-3, 6-3, in the boys division. On the girls side, top-seeded Anastasia Potapova, of Russia, claimed her second straight Herr championship by outlasting American Caty McNally, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
In the 12s, South Korea's Jungwon Park upset top-seeded Zane Khan, of America, 7-5, 6-2 for the boys title. Japan's Himari Sato, the No. 1 seed, dispatched Malta's Helene Pellicano, 6-0, 7-6 (5) for the girls title.