Semifinal singles day at the H-E-B Women’s Pro Tennis Open at the Texas Tennis Center features four players who, of course, have a lot on the line.
Reaching an ITF final has dramatic implications on rankings, especially as the long worldwide season winds down. In spite of the global implications, one semifinal has a decidedly Texan flavor with sixth-seeded Peyton Stearns, pictured above, facing Nicole Khirin. Peyton, with a WTA ranking of No. 316, is legendary around the University of Texas at Austin, after having led the women’s team to two NCAA team titles before she won the Longhorns’ first national singles title this past May. Stearns, who recently turned pro and turns 21 next week, is younger than the 464th-ranked Khirin, 21, who is in her first year at UT after serving in the Israeli armed services.
The other semifinal pits second-seeded Yuki Naito, WTA No. 211, against 16-year-old American Clervie Ngounoue, a wild card ranked No. 850. Neither player has dropped a set, but Clervie has been the more flamboyant player, especially in defeating Liv Hovde, her doubles partner and fellow junior Grand Slam winner, in convincing fashion in the second round.
In today’s doubles final, the experienced duo of Elysia Bolton and Jamie Loeb, the second-seeded pair, will face Martyna Kubka and Ashley Lahey. Bolton and Loeb are yet to drop a set and are looking to continue their streak into the finals. are Looking to pull off the upset are Kubka and Lahey, who said they decided pair up because of their similarly aggressive playing styles.
By: Lindsey Plotkin
Photo by Kayla Thompson