Dylan Charlap

Palos Verdes Estates resident Dylan Charlap (left) poses with Team USA teammates Nishesh Basavareddy (center) and Kyle Kang (right) outside the TK Plus Centre in Prostojev, Czech Republic. Competing in the ITF World Junior’s Aug. 5-10, Team USA claimed a second consecutive crown. (Photo courtesy of USTA)

At 13 years old, Palos Verdes Estate resident Dylan Charlap has done something not many get the opportunity to do: compete on an international stage, and win.

Charlap was part of Team USA's 14-and-under junior title winning team at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic Aug. 5-10.

"I went into the tournament proud of myself to have the opportunity, and to take home the title was a dream come true," Charlap said. "It was amazing."

But Charlap didn't find out he'd made the team until less than a week before the opening match.

"Originally, I wasn't selected. I was in Orlando training at the national campus when I found out, and I was almost in shock," Charlap said. "It's been one of my dreams and to find out that soon, I had no words. That moment meant so much, and it was a great experience."

It was Charlap's first time traveling internationally without his family, but he noted it was an experience he won't soon forget.

But it was representing the USA abroad that was the most memorable.

"I went in trying to soak it all in, and it was definitely such an honor to be there," Charlap said. "It's something I'll look back at and say 'Wow, I represented my country, went on the court and left it all out there'. To take home the title was a dream come true."

Having begun playing as a 3-year-old, Charlap recalls playing on a tiny court with a fake racket before stepping onto a real court around the time he turned 7. The next year, he entered his first tournament and has been playing at the national level since he was 11.

The teen's coach, Jay Leavitt, knew from the minute he met Charlap that he was destined for greatness.

"He's a very respectable and coachable kid who tries his hardest to please others, and it makes for a very good tennis player," Leavitt said. "He's got a great attitude, and he's very open to changing what he does."

Leavitt mentioned that Charlap's serve and forehand are the best parts of his game, but Charlap knows he wouldn't be where he is today without consistent work on his serve.

"When I was 10, every night, I served buckets of balls just trying to improve my serve," Charlap said. "I'm thankful that I went out and put in all those hours. When I'm not having a great day, I rely on my serve."

Having coached Charlap for two years now, Leavitt feels anything is possible as long as his student continues to work.

"In junior tennis, the sky is the limit for him," Leavitt said. "His goal is to play at a top tier collegiate program. And if things work out properly, maybe he can eventually turn pro."

Looking into his own future, Charlap knows if he continues to work as he does, he'll be able to achieve more.

"For me, I always focus on the long term. The way I'm developing my game is for the future," Charlap said. "I'm focusing on the process, not the results. At 18, I'd like to be playing in bigger tournaments and be ranked in the top 20."

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