2014/09/02

Gilles Simon Stuns No. 4 Seed David Ferrer at US Open

Gilles Simon

Gilles Simon

(August 31, 2014) No. 4 seed David Ferrer became the first major casualty on the men’s side of the draw at the US Open on Sunday when the Spaniard lost to Frenchman Gilles Simon, the 26th seed 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.

“It was tough match today,” Ferrer said. “There is a lot of humidity, very sun, and it was not easy for me. I was not good with my fitness. Nothing else, no? He was better.”
Ferrer, known for his steadiness had whopping 52 unforced errors. Ferrer is the only man’s top 10 player no longer in the draw, while, have of the top 10 women are already gone.

Asked if he was disappointed with his performance Ferrer said: “I am okay. It’s one match of my career. Don’t worry. Now we have couple of weeks to rest, to stay in home. Nothing else. Enjoy with my family.”

“Gilles is very consistent player; he was top 10 in 2008. He’s a really good player.”

“It was really, really difficult to play today,” Simon said. “I feel it was one of the hardest days for me on the court because it was hot and it was so humid. I never sweat like this in the last ten years, I feel. So it was really difficult. Plus, I was not really prepared because everyone was talking about the cooler day with maybe some rain. I didn’t see it. So, yeah, to play David in this condition is really demanding physically. At one point I was really tired. I felt it would be difficult. But then I had more energy; I felt he was in trouble, also. I mean, it’s not very often that him and me are tired like this just after two hours, but I feel we run a lot and, one more time, the conditions were tough.”

Going into Sunday, none of the top 10 men’s seeds had lost, in contrast to the women’s side, which had lost half of the top 10.

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Serena Williams Advances, Petra Kvitova Upset at US Open

 

(August 30, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Saturday at the US Open saw two-time defending champion Serena Williams move into the fourth round, while reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was upset.

Serena Williams beat countrywoman, No. 52, lefty Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium during day session, the third American in a row she has played at the US Open.

Lepchenko, who is sometimes, Williams’ practice partner, has given Williams her biggest challenge during the tournament, along with some swirling winds on center court.

“I think when someone is a lefty, they just open the court more,” said the top player. You’re expecting one serve. You kind of almost give up one side. You just say, You can ace me on this side, but I’m going to expect that side.”

“I love practicing with her. We always practice together in tournaments. Whenever I can, I love hitting with her. I think it helps her game and she helps my game.”

The victory extends her streak at Flushing Meadows to 17. She’ll face Kaia Kanepi, who beat 15th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, in the round of 16.

 

No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova had no answers for qualifier Aleksandra Krunic, a 21-year-old from Serbia who is No. 145 in the world.

“I’m an outsider,” Krunic said in her news conference. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect from myself at all. You know, I don’t know my limits.”

“I tried not to think about the score, and I kept telling myself that, you know, leave it on her because everything is up to her still and she’s in charge,” the Serb continued. “I tried to put the pressure off my shoulders, you know, because usually last couple of years I’m the one who is putting the pressure on myself, you know. So I tried not to do it today. And also on the changeover, on the 6-5 in the second, I just told to myself, It’s still on her. You still have nothing to lose, even if you’d be 6-5, 5-Love up. Play as every other game you have played. Surprisingly I managed to do it pretty well with the two big serves. You know, I didn’t expect myself to be so calm, but I really focused my 100% not to think about anything that is happening, about the court.”

Kvitova was disappointed with her efforts on Saturday. “I wanted to win today, and unfortunately I didn’t. Yeah, I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them. For me it was very difficult just, you know, to play only on the winners. I did mistakes and I was really trying everything what I could in that moment. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. It wasn’t really my day. She played really great tennis today.”

The youngster Krunic will play Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round. Azarenka dismantled Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1. It’s Azarenka’s 100 victory at a major.

“I have seen just really briefly couple of points. But, you know, she obviously is playing great tennis and really inspired here, you know, winning so many matches in a row and upsetting such a great player. So it’s going to be tough. I think it’s always tricky when you don’t know your opponent, but I just want to focus on my game and try to get prepared as best as possible and, again, have fun.”

In the evening session, Wimbledon runner-up, No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard survived a close escaping the No. 30 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to reach the US Open fourth round for the first time.

Bouchard will play No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova for a place the quarterfinals.

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USTA Eastern Junior Awards Gala

USTA Eastern Logo (150)

By Dave Gertler

(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – The achievements of USTA Eastern juniors in tournaments over the last 12 months, and the dedication of their families, was celebrated at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center before the first ball was struck at the US Open on Monday, at the 2014 Junior Awards Gala. Future stars of American tennis gathered to hear guest speakers, including former professional player and current Tennis Channel broadcaster Justin Gimelstob, honor the achievements of 30 junior players, as well as present awards to the top three in each age group.

 

“As you see out there today, for the next 15 days, this is an incredible sport,” said Gimelstob, “This sport challenges you in a way physically, mentally, tactically, emotionally, that almost nothing else can compete with, in an individual way. To find enjoyment in that, you’re a unique bunch.”

 

First Vice President of the USTA, and former world No.8 doubles player Katrina Adams, also praised the dedication of the kids and their families. While the complete list of award-winners from each age group is listed below, there were a small group of players who won awards in multiple age categories.

 

“I play every day, try to get better every day,” said Matthew Gamble, who was the top achiever in the 16s Boys category, as well as third overall in the 18s. “It’s a big part of my life.” Gamble cites the interaction with other players as an important part of the sport for him, saying, “Lately I’ve done more and more team events, so the team aspect and just playing your best, giving 100%.”

 

The junior from Rochester doesn’t want to stop here. While his favorite player, Rafael Nadal, was absent from the US Open this year, perhaps Gamble might one day find himself facing his idol at his home slam. “I obvioiusly want to play college tennis,” said Gamble, “And then after college, I’m gonna try to go pro and make it on the pro tour.”

 

The USTA Eastern Section, based in White Plains, N.Y., is a not-for-profit community service organization whose mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis. The section encompasses all of New York State, Northern New Jersey and Greenwich, Conn. It is one of 17 geographic sections of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis in the United States, and supports more than 49,000 members.

 

Exceptional players recognized at the Awards Gala:

 

Boys’ 10s:

1. Ty Switzer (New York, N.Y.)
2. Evan Wen (Morristown, N.J.)
3. Julian Wu (Tenafly, N.J.)

Girls’ 10s:

1. Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.)
2. Amaya Goulbourne (Pelham, N.Y.)
3. Hailey Stoerback (Saint James, N.Y.)

Boys’ 12s:

1. Billy Suarez (Huntington, N.Y.)
2. Jeffrey Fradkin (New York, N.Y.)
3. Ronan Jachuck (Slingerlands, N.Y.)

Girls’ 12s:

1. Rosie Garcia Gross (New York, N.Y.)
2. Gabriella Price (Montebello, N.Y.)
3. Alexa Noel (Summit, N.J.)

Boys’ 14s:

1. Sean Wei (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.)
2. Ronan Jachuck (Slingerlands, N.Y.)
3. Michael Sun (Livingston, N.J.)

Girls’ 14s:

1. Rachel Lim (Braircliff Manor, N.Y.)
2. Lea Ma (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Anna Brylin (Short Hills, N.J.)

Boys’ 16s:

1. Matthew Gamble (Webster, N.Y.)
2. Brenden Volk (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Jordan Benjamin (Fairport, N.Y.)

Girls’ 16s:

1. Stephanie Schrage (Millburn, N.J.)
2. Rachel Lim (Braircliff Manor, N.Y.)
3. Sabrina Xiong (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)

Boys’ 18s:

1. Daniel Grunberger (Great Neck, N.Y.)
2. Daniel Kerznerman (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Matthew Gamble (Webster, N.Y.)

Girls’ 18s:

1. Katharine Fahey (Fair Haven, N.J.)
2. Sabrina Xiong (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)
3. Rima Asatrian (Tenafly, N.J.)

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Simona Halep Falls to Former Teen Phenom Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

 

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 2 seed Simona Halep has crashed out of the US Open falling to qualifier and former teen tennis phenom, 32-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, ranked 121 in the world 7-6 (6), 6-2.

The Croat was down a break in the first set and won 11 of the next 15 games to close out the match.

Halep had some success in the majors this year, losing the French Open final and reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon.

Halep double-faulted 7 times and hit 23 unforced errors, while Lucic-Baroni 31 winners.

The winner is back into the fourth round of a major for the first time since 1999 Wimbledon when she reached the semifinal as a teenager.

“It’s amazing,” Lucic-Baroni said. “I finally been able to play the tennis that I love the way I love to play. You know, being really aggressive and consistent at the same time. Yeah, I mean, I keep playing better and better each round. Today was against one of the best players in the world. She’s amazing. I expected a really tough match. I didn’t think about anything except following the tactics and playing the way I was supposed to play. I was able to do that; it’s incredible.”

“I’m a little bit emotional now,” she said in press and began to cry. “It’s been really hard. Sorry. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad. So many times I would get to, you know, a place where I could do it. Then I wanted it so bad that I’m kind of burned out. And I apologize again. Yeah, I’m so happy.

Halep was trying to make the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the second straight year.

“She played really well today,” Halep said. “After I had 5-2 and the two set points, she came back really well and she started to hit every ball. Everything was in for her. It wasn’t my best day, but still I did everything I could on court. She was better than me today, so I have to just to keep working every day hard and to look forward for the next one.”
“She was hitting the balls very strong,” Halep said of her challenger. She’s tall and she serves well. So I knew that she’s a good player. But still, like I said, I wasn’t in a good mood also. I didn’t play my best today. But she deserves to win.”

“I started pretty good the match,” the Romanian continued. ”I had 5-2 and two set balls. I started aggressive. I played well. But after that, after she came back really well. I couldn’t hit very long the balls. So was too short, my game. But it happened, and I have just to take like it was. Good mood I didn’t have because, you know, sometimes after you lose a set from 5-2 you lose a little bit of the confidence. But still I tried everything I could.”

“I feel goofy right now,” said the Croat. “I feel like I’m 15 now. I feel so excited. It’s crazy. I’m 32, but I don’t feel like that. My body is really great. That’s really important. I feel fit. I feel strong in my mind. I feel very excited, even after so many years on tour. That’s what I find really — exciting is not the word. Kind of surprising a little bit. I still have so much desire, so much to play. And what I meant today is when I said on the court I realized later what was I saying? I was saying I have such an amazing husband and such a happy life at home that I don’t need to do this, you know. I would be perfectly fine having a family. But people don’t realize how much I want this and how hard I worked for this. Yeah, it’s these moments in these last two weeks that are just — I mean, it’s what I work for. It’s just so fulfilling, so amazing.”

Lucic-Baroni will play Sara Errani next. The Italian knocked out Venus Williams 6-0. 0-6, 7-6(5).

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Teen Belinda Bencic Bounces Out Sixth Seed Angelique Kerber

 

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Another upset on the women’s side of the US Open on Friday when 17-year-old former top junior Belinda Bencic stunned No. 6 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-1, 7-5 to reach the round of 16. Kerber was a 2011 US Open semifinalist.

The Swiss has been by both Martina Hingis and her mother.

Benicic spoke about her relationships with Hingis: “I’m practicing by her since I’m a little kid, so she knows me really well. I have never practiced by someone else, so I’m really believing in this way. It’s working great, and always when we are back home I am practicing with her.”

Bencic saved five set points against her in the second set and rallied from 2-5 down to shut down the match.

“It feels amazing,” Bencic said. “I played a really good match right from the start, and then I had a little bit timeout in the second. But I’m happy that I came back. It’s amazing that after last year I played juniors here, and this year I’m in the fourth round. So it’s incredible.”

This is Bencic’s debut at the US Open and she’s made it to the second week. She’ll play 2008 US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic for a place in the quarterfinals.

“I think she’s really good, and I looked up to her a lot,” Bencic said of Jankovic” So I just hope it will be a good match.”

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Bernard Tomic Withdraws from US Open with Hip Injury

Bernard Tomic

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Bernard Tomic withdrew from his match AGAINST David Ferrer due to a left hip injury on Fridayat the US Open. With the withdrawal Ferrer advances to the third round.

Tomic had surgery on both hips back in January.

“I was sick for the last 10 days,” said the 21-yeae-old Australian. “It was difficult having the flu, but my hip’s a little bit not in shape. I’m feeling it inside. So I did the best thing not to play. You know, I don’t want to muck around with that area. For sure something is there. I’ve got to get it checked. Got to get it analyzed the next few days. I’ve got to look into it and see what’s wrong, because I’m definitely feeling something in that area. For me, it’s not good right now. It’s painful.”
Tomic said that the injury flared up during his first round doubles match with Nick Kyrgios. “I can’t afford to get on court and, you know, play against David and cause much more pain to myself, because, you know, I’m going to have to stay with him the whole match,” he said. For me right now I cannot do that. Who knows? I can potentially make it ten times worse. For me it’s the best thing not to go on court today. It’s a very difficult decision for me, but I have to do this.

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Peng Shuai Notches Second Straight Upset of a Seed at US Open

Shuai Peng

Shuai Peng

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Peng Shuai has knocked out another seeded player at the US Open to reach just her second straight major tournament fourth round.

On Wednesday she dismissed No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, and on Friday Peng defeated 28 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3.

The No. 39-ranked Peng will play the winner of 14 seed Lucie Safarova or 22 seed Alize Cornet in an effort to try to earn a berth in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“Big challenge,” Peng said of her next match. “I know I never pass it. And always like maybe — always different player. Also like I think for myself I need to (have) more courage, be more like stronger, and then try my best. Because now is I don’t know who I gonna be play for next round. Either way Cornet or Safarova. Both is really good player. Safarova is lefty. Sometimes it’s like different. I know this year she doing really good, you know. I will try my best.”

Peng is carrying the flag for China at the US Open with Li Na out due to injury.

Former US Open Finalist Jelena Jankovic dusted Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0. Larsson upset Sloane Stephens on Wednesday.

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Signature Series: Arthur Ashe to Air on Tennis Channel

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Tennis Channel will celebrate the career of tennis pioneer, devoted activist and Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe in Signature Series: Arthur Ashe during the 2014 US Open. The newest edition to the network’s original Signature Series documentary lineup – Ashe’s first authorized television biography – will debut Sunday, August 31, at 11 p.m. ET at the conclusion of Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage. A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s website at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe delves into the  tennis career, activism and untimely death of one of the most respected athletes of all time. In a pantheon with other 20th Century agents of change like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammed Ali, Ashe is remembered as a man who broke color barriers and affected human rights issues.  With perhaps nothing more important to him than education and the opportunities it can afford people, of all walks of life, Ashe took a leading role in advancing this cause of using a locker room as a means of promoting the classroom.  The dignity and grace with which he led his life, on and off the tennis court and in the face of his own mortality, remain respected around the world.

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy transcends tennis and even sports, and this is a story that simply had to be told,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For the first time television audience will experience Arthur in the context of history and learn why he was one of the greatest social leaders our world has seen.”

An eventual World No. 1, Ashe began as an outsider in tennis, an African-American unable to play junior tournaments – or even walk onto the same court with a white opponent – because of racial segregation laws in his home state of Virginia. He went on to lead the University of California Los Angeles’ championship tennis team, and became the first African-American to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963. This landmart “first” was one of many in a lifetime of firsts for Ashe.  He later became the first man to win the US Open in 1968, its inaugural year. In doing so, he also became the first – and to this day only – African-American man to win the singles title at the US Open or the U.S. National Championships, as the tournament was known before the Open Era.

Ashe added to his place in history with championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, also firsts for an African-American man. Even today his Wimbledon championship upset of Jimmy Connors is considered a match for the ages.  Ashe remains the only black man to win singles championships at the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. He also, with 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah of France, became one of only two black men to win a major tennis singles title. He finished his career with 33 titles overall.

This documentary, however, charts the story of not only a Grand Slam champion, but also a lifetime leader, humanitarian, philanthropist and human rights activist who worked with three different U.S. presidents. Known for his character, Ashe’s passionate and tireless leadership translated into many causes – both politically and socially. He protested South African apartheid, championing human rights and serving as a beacon of hope to the people suffering under segregation there. Ashe became such a virtuous example to South Africans that they nicknamed him “Sepo” or “Hope.” After decades in prison, future South African president Nelson Mandela immediately sought a meeting with Ashe upon his release. Ashe was also committed to protesting U.S. crackdowns on Haitian refugees. He was arrested twice while demonstrating his beliefs regarding these issues. Above all Ashe was a fierce advocate of educational empowerment, and gave back to his community throughout his life. Paramount among his achievements may be his role as a founding member of National Junior Tennis and Learning, a non-profit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth through tennis.

“We are humbled to be able to honor Arthur Ashe’s memory in this edition of Signature Series,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “His actions as a player have helped to mold the sport as we know it today, and his convictions as an activist continue to inspire people and motivate positive change in the world.”

In 1992, Ashe announced that he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion years earlier while receiving treatment after heart surgery. In doing so, he became an early and public face for raising awareness about the disease. Ashe, with his wife Jeannne, helped to bring attention to AIDS by founding the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, which generated funds for study into treating, curing and preventing the disease, with the eventual goal of finding a cure. He continued to bring light to the plight of AIDS victims by speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, inciting a call to action for delegates to increase funding for research and see the virus as a global issue. At a local level, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He designed the institute to address poor health care delivery issues amongst urban minorities. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.

“The greatness of Arthur Ashe was not his tennis. It was the way he carried himself and what he tried to create. He represented so many good ideals and values … and I always believed that America lost a great deal when we lost Arthur Ashe,’ said longtime friend and agent of Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell, in an interview that appears in the documentary.

Spending nine years in the World Top 10, Ashe contributed more to the sport than just great match play and big wins. In response to tennis’ growing popularity and the stalemate of tennis professionals’ earnings, he co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with Jack Kramer and others in 1972. The ATP was formed to represent the interests and rights of the men who made their living on the pro tennis circuit. Ashe served as president for two years and went on to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Today he is the namesake of the main venue at the US Open, “Arthur Ashe Stadium,” the largest tennis arena in the world. It was Ashe’s dedication to promoting equality and championing human rights – both in his professional and personal life – that keeps him in the hearts and minds of the public.

Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries have joined together to help Tennis Channel honor the tennis great by speaking about their fondest memories of him on camera. Each was asked to write a personal letter to Ashe from the present, addressing the ways in which his legacy lives and the changes in the world today because of him.  Read in “Dear Arthur” segments throughout, the letters form the pillars of the film’s structure. His brother Johnnie Ashe, Ambassador Andrew Young, prize winning sports writer Frank Deford and tennis icon Billie Jean King are among those featured.  Other interviewees include contemporaries like all-time great Rod Laver and Cliff Drysdale, and tennis chroniclers Richard Evans and Steve Flink.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe is a a part of Tennis Channel’s on going  Signature Series documentary lineup. Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste, Bud Collins and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

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Murray Puts Cramps Behind Him in Thursday’s win at the US Open

Andy Murray smiling

(August, 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Eighth seed Andy Murray left the cramps he had earlier in the week in the heat behind him as beat Matthias Bachinger in the cool, breezy evening of the night session in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

“It was extremely windy today,” Murray said. “That was the hardest part about the conditions. Yeah, just very, very breezy. Difficult to play sort of close to the lines or anything like that. But I hit the ball well considering, served better, and obviously I moved a bit better today, as well.”

Murray’s opponent in the next round will be against Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia, who rook out 31st seed Fernando Verdasco.

“He’s had a couple big wins in the slams this year,” Murray said. “He beat Ferrer at Wimbledon and obviously today against Verdasco. I’ve never played him before. I don’t know his game that well, but I’ve seen him play a little bit. He hits the ball pretty flat. Likes to go for his shots a lot. This court’s fairly quick, so that will probably help him, as well. But I’ll watch a little bit of video tomorrow evening, try to understand his game a bit better.”

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Bell Tolls for Cici Bellis at US Open

 

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – American Cici Bellis, the youngest player to win a match at the US Open since Anna Kournikova back in 1996 fell to 20-year-old No. 48 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 on Thurday night in the second round. For Bellis who knocked out 12th seed and Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, Bellis, her Grand Slam and tour level debut comes to an end.

“I think what surprised me is that I could really, like, stay with these pros,” Bellis said. “And I think today if I had, you know, played a little bit better, it would have been a different result. But, yeah, I mean, definitely just that I can, you know, play with them is really good.”
The 1208th ranked player was supported by fans who waited hours on Court 17 to get a chance to see a potential rising star.

“It was great,” Bellis said of the support. “I love when people watch me and support me like that. So it really, you know, helped me a lot.”
“Like this whole experience has been unbelievable, like mind-blowing,” Bellis said. “It’s been crazy. It’s been like the best couple days of my life.”

“I think in the beginning of the match I was, you know, nervous and I was a little tight,” she said. Then the second set I became freer. Third set, I mean, she just kind of played better than me. I wasn’t playing as well as I would have liked to, but it was a really good experience, I think.”

Bellis earned her way into the US Open by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to qualify for the wild card.

As for the Californian competing in the Juniors next week, Bellis said: “

.
“I think it’s definitely going to give me more confidence, you know, going into the juniors and definitely believing that I can beat, you know, whoever I play in juniors, for sure, if I play well. So I think it just gave me a lot more confidence.

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