Ava Markham scored another upset at the H-E-B Women’s Pro Open on Wednesday, this time defeating top-seeded Nigina Abduraimova, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-1. Markham came into the tournament through the qualifying draw and has now won two matches in a dramatic comeback fashion – saving match point in her previous match.
“I think I have an attitude of never giving up until the last point is played and you walk to the net and shake hands,” said the 23-year-old Markham, pictured above. “In a tennis match, it’s never really over. I just believe in myself and my game and I think that carried me today as well as yesterday.”
Three other seeds lost on Wednesday. Last year’s tournament finalist Clervie Ngounoue returned to Austin and defeated No. 5 Martha Matoula 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2. After she left Austin last year, Ngounoue, now 17, won the Wimbledon girls singles title and has now moved out of junior tennis into a full professional career. Wednesday’s match was definitely work.
“That was not one of the most delightful matches I’ve had,” Ngounoue said. “I just tried to hang in there whether I was there mentally or not.”
Mao Mushika took down No. 7 Liv Hovde, 7-6 (6), 6-1. Like Markham, 18-year-old Mushika had to beat two players in the qualifying draw to earn a spot in the tournament.
Ayumi Miyamoto was the third player to come from the qualifying draw to knock out a seeded player. Miyamoto defeated No. 6 Stacey Fung, 6-1, 5-3, in a match that ended in retirement. In a matchup between two 18-year-olds, Stefani Webb beat Tatum Evans, 6-3, 6-1.
With a decade of professional experience under her belt, No. 6 Hanna Chang defeated Texas Christian University player Jade Otway, 6-0, 6-2.
Third-seeded Grace Min defeated Gabriela Lee, 6-3, 6-0, to easily avoid another upset. With the win, Min is now the highest remaining seed in the tournament.
“I wanted to stay as aggressive as possible and try to not let (Lee) get in the rhythm,” Min said. She said that for the rest of the tournament she hoped “to continue what I did here and keep building momentum.”
Catherine Harrison, who entered the tournament as a wild card, defeated Kimmi Hance, 6-1, 6-3. Harrison managed to win the first set after only 29 minutes, but Hance put up more of a fight in the second.
After losing in last year’s quarterfinals, Ashley Lahey returned to Austin as a wild card player to face 19-year-old Katja Wiersholm. After two close sets, Lahey got the win by pulling away in the third set, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.
“I was a lot more aggressive in the third set,” Lahey said. “In the second set, (Wiersholm) was the one being aggressive and she wasn’t making any mistakes. I realized that if I was going to win the match I was going to have to get some positive points and actually win the points instead of hoping she would miss.”
Also earning her spot in the tournament through the qualifying draw, Nicole Rivkin defeated Fernanda Contreras Gomez 6-3, 6-4 to move to the round of 16. Rivkin earned her first professional win in her university home court in Austin.
Responsible for a big upset over the top seed in singles, Markham got her second win of the day with Maria Kononova at the doubles’ round of 16 against Evans and Ayumi Miyamoto. The match went to a 10-point tiebreaker set and ended at 7-6 (3), 6-2,10-8 for the third-seeded team of Markham and Kononova.
Anita Sahidiieva and Sahaja Yamalapalli rallied to defeat Alina Shcherbibina and Lauren Friedman, 1-6, 6-3, 10-8. Jiangxue Han and Yujia Huang pulled off a 6-1, 1-6, 10- 7 win over Mao Mushika and Anna Zyryanova.
The third-seeded team of Chloe Beck and Harrison defeated wild card players Vivian Ovrootsky and Tatsiana Sasnoukaya, 6-2, 6-2. After an unexpected loss to Ngounoue in the singles, Matoula bounced back with her partner Martina Okalova with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Savanna Ly-Ngyuen and Rhea Verma.
Article and photograph by Bevo Video Productions, a division of Texas Student Media at UT-Austin’s Moody College of Communication.
Check out the bios of the H-E-B Women’s Pro Open players.