Delray teen competes in back-to-back top junior golf team events

Delray Beach teenager Gabriella Albert aspires to someday play for the LPGA.

She certainly seems primed and ready for her junior year of high school at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton. The 17-year-old recently competed in back-to-back top junior golf team events: the BallenIsles Junior Cup and the Junior Florida Cup at PGA National.

“The BallenIsles Cup is always a great event,” said Albert, who won her singles match 6&5 over West Palm Beach’s Staci Pla to help the East team win the event, 19-13. “Not only does it encourage friendly competition, but it has also pushed me to become closer with people I wouldn’t have expected to become friends with.”

Albert and fellow Delray Beach resident Nicole Yugay, 18, were among the 12 female and 20 male golfers age 18 and younger who took part in the 10th annual BallenIsles Junior Cup. Yugay dropped a narrow 3&2 decision to Sabrina Kim, of Port St. Lucie.

Albert gained an invite to the Junior Florida Cup after she earned the most points in the South Region of the state (6,183). There were 32 golfers in the event.

“Going into the tournament, I was hoping to win my matches individually and as a team,” she said. “I was also excited to enjoy the great experience and get to know my teammates.”

This was her sixth match play event, having made her debut in the Florida Junior Cup this year and participated in the Florida Women’s Amateur Championship for the past three years and the BallenIsles Junior Cup for two years.

“I think playing well and winning in match play gives a lot more confidence than a regular tournament round,” Albert said. “(It’s) a different style of play which has helped me adjust my play depending on the event and helped my game in regular tournaments as well.”

She said it was also a special tournament because it marked the last time she played with her friend, Port St. Lucie’s Brianna Castaldi, who is headed for college this year.

Albert and Castaldi came up short in their match, however. Albert would team with Parker Severs to win 3&1 and followed that up with a 5&4 victory in her singles match to help the South Region to the victory.