Clervie Ngounoue has yet to lose a set in the main draw of the H-E-B Women’s Pro Tennis Open. She won Thursday’s second-round match against Madison Sieg, 6-1, 7-6 (0).
Ngounoue’s dominant performance in the first set was impressive, but the second set went differently.
Her path up until this point was clear. She won the match against her doubles partner, Liv Hovde, 7-5, 6-3, to make it to the second round.
Ngounoue is only 16 years old, but that hasn’t seemed to be a limiting factor. She won the Australian Open juniors doubles championship. The Washington D.C. native recently made it to the U.S. Open juniors quarterfinal at the beginning of September.
As the second set began, Ngounoue’s control over the game started to slip. It was 0-2 before Ngounoue started to get back into her flow. From there, it was back and forth. Neither player was able to break the other’s serve. It was 3-4, 4-4, 4-5 then 5-5. Eventually, the score hit 6-6. It was left up to a tiebreaker.
Sieg wasn’t an easy opponent. She won a W15 title in Naples, Florida, and was an Orange Bowl champion for 16 and under. Her performance against the No. 3 seed Catherine Harrison was impressive, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Throughout the back and forth of the second match, both players lost and regained their cool continuously. Unforced errors bounced off the net at semi-frequent intervals.
As they came closer to playing the second set tiebreaker, Ngounoue’s dominance, which seemed to fade at the beginning of the second set, returned in full force. Sieg was permanently left on the defensive as Ngounoue walloped ball after ball, perpetually on the attack to make plays, to end games.
Ngounoue wanted it over and now. Point after point, Sieg was right where Ngounoue wanted her. This was a different Ngounoue from the one who played in the second set. This one remained in control, on attack, but in between it all she stayed calm. After it was all over, a smile began to surface on her face.
“Like always, I was expecting a battle, but I was glad that I was able to stay in it,” Ngounoue said after the match.
By: Ignacio Perez