Yelensky shines for USA at Youth Pan-American Championships
The USA Youth Women’s National Team recently won the gold medal at the UANA Youth Pan-American Championships in Lima, Peru, and Greenwich Academy student Kayla Yelensky helped ignite the title-winning squad.
A rising Greenwich Academy senior, Yelensky scored 13 goals during the eight-game Pan-American Junior Championships, one of which came in Team USA’s 9-7 win over Brazil in the finals.
The USA Youth Women’s National Team included players 17-and-under, with the 15-year-old Yelensky being one of the youngest players on the squad. Yelensky, who plays water polo throughout the year for YMCA of Greenwich-based Greenwich Aquatics and is also a member of the Greenwich Academy water polo team, was a key contributor at the Pan-American competition.
She recorded a hat trick in Team USA’s 22-9 win over Argentina in the semifinals and tallied four goals in the team’s opening-round victory against Puerto Rico — a 27-3 rout. Yelensky added one goal apiece in the USA’s victories against Brazil (11-3) and Canada (11-6). In the squad’s resounding 16-2 triumph against Trinidad & Tobago, Yelensky notched three goals.
Yelensky has been a member of USA Water Polo’s Developmental and Cadet teams. Ulmis Iordache, who coaches Yelensky at both Greenwich Aquatics and Greenwich Academy, isn’t surprised by her water polo success.
“She is a very smart player,” said Iordache, who has coached Yelensky since she was a 9-year-old. “The game moves slower for her than other players and she is in so much more control out there than most others. Besides having a very strong, accurate shot, those are her main qualities.”
Currently, Yelensky is competing at the 2017 Junior Olympics with Iordache’s Greenwich Aquatics girls 16-and-under team in Southern California. Greenwich Aquatics is represented by 12 teams at the Junior Olympics.
During Yelensky’s freshman year at Greenwich Academy, the Gators finished 13-1 and captured the New England title with a 24-13 victory over Hopkins School in the championship game. She was named the tournament’s MVP, after registering 10 goals and two assists in the championship matchup. In a 20-7 win against Williston-Northampton in the New England semifinals, she notched six goals and five assists.
“When she first started playing water polo she was a promising player, now she is a great player,” Iordache said. “Without Kayla we would have lost some more games. She has a very bright future and she is doing all the right things. Her accomplishments at the Pan-Am Games were the biggest accomplishments for an individual athlete on the women’s side from this area.”