In the quarterfinal round of the H-E-B Women’s Pro Tennis Open at the Texas Tennis Center, the focus shifts to No. 2 Yuki Naito, who is the tournament’s highest remaining seed.
Naito is a 21-year-old Japanese player currently ranked No. 211 on the WTA Tour and has won six ITF titles, the most recent in Buenos Aires in 2021. In the first match on Court 1, she faces No. 5 Jamie Loeb, a 27-year-old New Yorker. Naito reached the quarters with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Noel Saidenova, 21, who plays for Central Florida. Loeb, ranked No. 283, advanced by the same score over Anita Sahdiieva of Ukraine.
First up on Court 5 is former Longhorn champion and No. 6 Peyton Stearns against Ashley Lahey, the 22-year-old Californian who earlier this week was given the Catalyst Award for her humanitarian efforts. Stearns and Lahey’s Thursday matches looked very different, with Stearns struggling to beat Martyna Kubka, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, and Lahey’s opponent, top-seeded Fernanda Contreras Gomez, retiring because of illness with Lahey leading by 6-2, 4-3.
The second match on Court 1 will feature Nicole Khirin, a 21-year-old Texas freshman from Israel, against 17-year-old Virginia native Tatum Evans. Khirin, pictured above and playing on her home court at the Texas Tennis Center, defeated Indonesia’s Aldila Sutjiadi 7-6 (9), 2-6, 7-5, after fighting back from an ankle injury in the first set. Evans had upset fourth-seeded Mikulskyte of Lithuania, 6-3, 6-4, on Wednesday. The final singles match on Court 5 will give Clervie Ngounoue, a 16-year-old Washington D.C. native, a chance to continue her strong run. She will face 19-year-old Jana Kolodynska, who saved match points in her victory over American Samantha Crawford 4-6, 7-6 (9), 6-2.
In the doubles semifinals, the Longhorn duo Marlee Zein and Malakia Ropolu will face Lahey and Martyna Kubka. Rapolu and Zein won their match by walkover after Fernanda Contreras Gomez medically retired from the tournament. Kubka, a 21-year-old from Poland, and Lahey defeated the duo of Stearns and Collins, 6-1, 2-6, 10-7. The second match features 30-year-old Taiwanese Chieh-Yu Hsu and 25-year-old Maria Kononova against Loeb and 22-year-old Australian Elysia Bolton. Chieh-Yu and Kononva won their match, 6-1, 3-6, 10-8, and Bolton and Loeb had little trouble defeating the 16-year-old of duo of Hovde and Ngounuoe 6-4, 6-4.
By: Lindsey Plotkin
Photo by Kayla Thompson