All but one of the seeded players came out on top in the first round of the H-E-B Women’s Pro Tennis Open on Wednesday.
On the day in which the air temperature “only” reached the low 90’s on Texas Tennis Center courts, top-seeded Fernanda Contreras Gomez of Mexico defeated UT player Malaika Rapolu, 6-2, 7-5, securing the victory the second time she served for the match. Second-seeded Yuki Naito, the 21-year-old Japanese player, was an 6-2, 6-2 winner over Jiangxue Han of China. Things didn’t go as well for No. 3 Catherine Harrison, who held several match points but couldn’t hold off fellow American Madison Stieg, a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) winner. Fifth-seeded Jamie Loeb defeated Kylie Collins, the former UT player, 6-0, 1-6, 6-1, in a seesaw match on Court 3. No. 6 Peyton Stearns, the NCAA singles champion from UT, was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Chieh-Yu Hsu of Taiwan. No. 7 Ana Sofia Sanchez and No. 8 Eva Guerrero Alvarez each lost their first-round matches on Tuesday.
In a matchup of highly touted 16-year-olds, Clervie Ngounoue easily defeated her doubles partner, Liv Hovde, 7-5, 6-3. Ngounoue, pictured above, won the Australian Open girls doubles title in January, and Hovde won the Wimbledon girls singles crown in July.
Three players staged comebacks to advance to the second round. Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia defeated USC’s Eryn Catetano, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 and qualifier Noel Saidenova got past Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. In an all-American matchup, Tatum Evans defeated Rasheeda McAdoo, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, despite being down a break in the second set.
There was little drama in the day’s other matches. Ashley Lahey, who on Tuesday received the 2022 Women’s Catalyst Award for her humanitarian work, ended the surprising run of the Baylor qualifier Vanda Vargova, 6-1, 6-4. Lithuanian Justina Mikulskyte, who won the Manacor W25 at the beginning of the year, defeated Sabina Zeynalova of Ukraine, 6-4, 6-2. But another Ukrainian, Anita Sahdiieva, cruised past Elysia Bolton of Australia, 6-1, 6-2. Martyna Kubka of Poland beat German Jantje Tilbuerger, 6-3, 6-4.
By: Ignacio Perez