2014/04/23

Tatishvili Ousts Top Seed Lepchenko at Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Anna Tatishvili (Courtesy of Bob Spears)

MIDLAND, Mich., February 8, 2011 – The numbers were stacked against Anna Tatishvili as she opened play at the 2011 Dow Corning Tennis Classic on Stadium Court. An unheralded, unseeded player from the Republic of Georgia, Tatishvili was up against top-seeded American Varvara Lepchenko, who finished 2010 by winning 15 straight matches on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Tatishvili gave up five inches, 25 pounds and 54 spots on the WTA Tour rankings to the lefty Lepchenko. Playing on a slick indoor surface that is supposed to favor stronger players, Lepchenko entered Tuesday’s match with a 2-0 lifetime record against Tatishvili.

But matches aren’t played on paper; they’re played between the lines. Flattening her groundstrokes much deeper than her 5-foot-6 frame suggested she could, Tatishvili knocked off the No. 1 seed 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.

“I had to play very focused, especially on the returns,” said Tatishvili, who resides and trains in Boca Raton, Fla. “She’s a lefty and her slice serve you can’t really hit back flat. I had to really look at the ball and make her play every point.”

After moving her opponent side to side with punishing returns, the Georgian broke for a 5-4 first-set lead when Lepchenko double-faulted.

But Tatishvili doubled twice in the subsequent game to concede the break back to Lepchenko, who will become an American citizen in August after migrating to the U.S. a decade ago.

“On my kick serves, I got a little tight so the ball flew on me,” said Tatishvili, who finished with seven double faults. “I need to just think about the routine I do every single day: make 2,000 serves.”

Moments after she served for a one-set lead, Tatishvili misfired long on consecutive points in the tiebreak to concede the first set to Lepchenko.

“It’s tennis and it happens,” said Tatishvili, 21. “That’s why it’s two-out-of-three. I refocused and I tried to make less errors. On the important points, I wanted to be steady.”

Lepchenko, 24, could not maintain her momentum in the second set as Tatishvili broke serve in each of the American’s first three service games. Despite service troubles of her own, Tatishvili forced a final set by holding at love.

The 129th-ranked Tatishvili opened up a 3-0 third-set lead, and then earned two match points at 5-3 after hitting the shot of the match. Lepchenko kicked a spin serve into the far corner of the Ad-court, pushing Tatishvili into the side curtains. The Georgian, however, responded with an acute angle of her own: carving a cross-court backhand return winner that crashed into the opposite curtains.

Lepchenko managed to save both match points and hold serve, forcing Tatishvili to clinch the win on her own racquet. When Tatishvili hit a second-serve about three feet long to open the 10th game, a service break appeared likely.

But Lepchenko’s comeback was not to be as Tatishvili recomposed herself, earning a third match point with a crosscourt forehand winner. She secured her first-ever win over the 75th-ranked Lepchenko when the lefty let loose on a backhand long.

“On the match points at 5-3 she played well,” said Tatishvili. “It’s not like I played bad or I choked or anything. There was nothing I could do. But in the last game of the third set, I just said, ‘You have to really focus on your serve.’”

Lepchenko’s loss marked the start of a difficult day for Americans at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Shelby Rogers, Christina McHale and Jamie Hampton each fell in the first round. Two-time singles finalist Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic handed Hampton a 7-5, 6-4 loss in Tuesday’s feature singles match.

Good news for the red, white and blue came in the form of USTA.com blogger Irina Falconi. The former Georgia Tech standout ensured herself two more days of writing (and competing) by breaking Katie O’Brien seven straight times in a 7-5, 6-2 singles victory. Falconi, 20, also teamed with countrywoman Alison Riske to defeat Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller in doubles.

While four Americans fell in the main draw on Tuesday, four former U.S. Fed Cup team members swept the qualifying. Ahsha Rolle and Alexa Glatch joined 1998 Midland champion Alexandra Stevenson and 34-year-old Mashona Washington as the qualifying quartet.

Washington, who was born in nearby Flint, Mich., first played the Midland qualifying event in 1993. Back then, the tournament was only in its fifth year on the USTA Pro Circuit and it featured just a quarter of its present-day purse of $100,000.

Now in the Dow Corning Tennis Classic main draw for the 10th time, Washington will be wishing for a repeat performance of 2002, when she reached the singles final before falling to Australian Open runner-up Na Li.

After her mother, father and sister watched her advance through the qualifying draw, Washington was rewarded with a first-round match against a player young enough to be her daughter: 15-year-old wild card Victoria Duval.

“I’ve probably played this tournament more than anybody,” said Washington, who defeated Mueller 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final round of qualifying. “I’m very happy because this lets me know that I didn’t need a wild card. At the same time, I could have saved myself three matches and probably 100 miles on my legs (laughs).”

The first round resumes on Wednesday with 11 singles matches, highlighted by the fast-rising Riske taking on No. 7 seed Ksenia Pervak of Russia in the feature singles match at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court. Pervak won the 2009 Australian Open junior title, but should be tested against Riske, who captured three consecutive ITF titles in Europe last fall.

Following that contest, Hampton and Tatishvili will team up to take on Canadians Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier in the feature doubles match.

Marino will also play her first-round singles match on Wednesday against Glatch. With Lepchenko’s loss, the 20-year-old from Vancouver has emerged as a tournament favorite.

At 6-feet-tall, the second-seeded Marino is quickly becoming one of the biggest hitters in women’s tennis, smoking serves and forehands without inhibition. She arrives in Midland after a second-round appearance at the Australian Open, where she pushed French Open champion Francesca Schiavone before falling 9-7 in the third set.

Marino is one of six seeded singles players in action during Wednesday’s day session, including No. 5 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania. Still only 20 years old, Cirstea has posted wins over current Top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Schiavone.

Cirstea will meet wild card Jessica Pegula in the fourth match on Court 5.

Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Riske vs. Pervak and Hampton/Tatishvili vs. Marino/Pelletier cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.

Article by Joshua Rey

Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Midland Community Tennis Center

Midland, Mich.

Purse: $100,000

Surface: Hard-Indoor

Tuesday, February 8 – RESULTS


Singles – First round

Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) def. [1] Varvara Lepchenko (United States)  6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4

Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) def. Jamie Hampton (United States) 7-5, 6-4

Sabine Lisicki (Germany) def. [WC] Shelby Rogers (United States) 6-1, 6-3

Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) def. Christina McHale (United States) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

Irina Falconi (United States) def. Katie O’Brien (Great Britain) 7-5, 6-2

Doubles – First round

Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Whitney Jones (United States) def. [WC] Kelli Close (United States) and Daniella Patton (Dominican Republic) 6-0, 6-2

Irina Falconi and Alison Riske (United States) def. Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller (United States) 6-1, 3-6, [10-3]

[3] Ksenia Pervak (Russia) and Ipek Senoglu (Turkey) def. Christina Fusano and Sanaz Marand (United States) 4-6, 6-4, [10-7]

[2] Sarah Borwell (Great Britain) and Courtney Nagle (United States) def. Elizabeth Lumpkin and Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) 7-5, 6-4

Qualifying Singles – Final round

[6] Mashona Washington (United States) def. Alexandra Mueller (United States) 7-6(4), 6-3

[2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) def. [7] Lena Litvak (United States) 6-4, 6-2

[5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def. [3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-2, 6-4

[4] Alexa Glatch (United States) def. [8] Amanda Fink (United States) 6-2, 6-2

Wednesday, February 9 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.

[WC] Brittany Augustine (United States) vs. [4] Anne Keothavong (Great Britain)

[3] Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) vs. [Q] Ahsha Rolle (United States)

[Q] Mashona Washington (United States) vs. [WC] Victoria Duval (United States)

[1] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) and Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs. Beatrice Capra and CoCo Vandeweghe (United States)

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.

Alison Riske (United States) vs. [7] Ksenia Pervak (Russia)

Jamie Hampton (United States) and Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) vs. Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier (Canada)

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.

Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal) vs. Julie Coin (France)

Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) vs. [6] Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia)

[Q] Alexa Glatch (United States) vs. [2] Rebecca Marino (Canada)

[5] Sorana Cirstea (Romania) vs. [WC] Jessica Pegula (United States)

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.

Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (France) vs. Heather Watson (Great Britain)

[8] CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) vs. [Q] Alexandra Stevenson (United States)

Madison Brengle (United States) vs. Olga Savchuk (Ukraine)

ABOUT THE USTA PRO CIRCUIT:

With more than 90 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 32 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering more than $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Among those who have played at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic are seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2011 Australian Open runner-up Na Li.

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Lisicki, Falconi and Vandeweghe Talk Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Coco Vandeweghe interviewed by ESPN's Brad Golder             (Photo by Bob Spears)

MIDLAND, Mich., February 7, 2011 – The longest-running women’s tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit returns to the tennis scene on Tuesday with a field of fast-rising stars seeking their share of $100,000 in prize money.

Of the 40 women’s events on the American circuit, only the Dow Corning Tennis Classic awards its singles champion a check for $15,200 and 140 ranking points on the WTA Tour.

Now hosting the event for a 23rd time, the 2009 ‘Best Tennis Town’ of Midland is welcoming three former Top 25 players, 11 Americans and 18 players under the age of 22 this week.

Two-time singles finalist Lucie Hradecka, 2009 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Sabine Lisicki and up-and-coming Americans Irina Falconi and CoCo Vandeweghe kicked off the 2011 event by meeting with media at the Midland Community Tennis Center on Monday. They were joined by Tom Gullikson, the USTA’s lead national coach for women’s tennis.

Hradecka’s fast-and-flat playing style suits her well on the quick indoor courts of Midland. After winning the 2009 Dow Corning Tennis Classic singles title, the Czech captured the tournament’s doubles title with Laura Granville in 2010 and fell in last year’s singles final to Elena Baltacha.

With titanic serves and two-handed groundstrokes, Hradecka has already won 16 ITF singles, 29 ITF doubles and nine WTA doubles titles. Though she’s earned her fair share of trophies elsewhere, the 25-year-old Hradecka holds a special place in her heart for Midland.

“I love this tournament,” said Hradecka. “I love the people here and I stay here with a great family. Everybody here is so friendly and the tournament does its best for the players.”

If there’s one player in Midland who may be able to match Hradecka’s power, it’s Lisicki. She owns the women’s world record for the fastest serve at just over 130 miles-per-hour.

But after reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals and breaking into the Top 25 in 2009, Lisicki suffered a string of injuries. She twisted her left ankle 11 months ago in Indian Wells, Calif., leaving her in crutches for six weeks and off the tour for more than four months.

“I basically lost all the muscles in my left leg,” said the 21-year-old Lisicki. “To have the whole body working the way you want it to work is quite a big deal. It takes time. It’s not about who can play the best tennis anymore because you have to be fit, you have to be strong and you have to be fast.”

Like many of her peers in Midland this week, Lisicki’s next stop on the tennis tour is tentatively the WTA event in Memphis, where qualifying play begins on Friday. That overlaps with the Dow Corning Tennis Classic quarterfinals, making a tennis player’s life anything but easy to predict.

“A year ago, I did not have problems making my schedule because when you’re in the Top 30, you’re getting in everywhere and you can pick and choose,” said Lisicki, now ranked No. 186.

“It’s tough when you’re ranked between 100 and 200 because you don’t know where you’re going to get in. I’m in the main draw here and the qualies in Memphis so if I get far here, I cannot play there. That makes it tough for us to book our flights, which makes it more expensive. It’s like a big circle.”

Standing six inches shorter than Lisicki, the 5’4” Falconi may not appear to be the ideal indoor-court player. But with a steady mix of speed, slice and spin, she is quickly making a name for herself in women’s tennis.

As a varsity tennis player at Georgia Tech, Falconi finished the 2010 collegiate season ranked No. 1 in the nation before joining the WTA Tour last July.

“The biggest difference is that out here, you’re trying to get each other’s lunch money,” said Falconi. “In college, you knew the next day that there was another match or another practice, and your scholarship was still going to be there.”

In just seven months as a pro, Falconi has qualified at the US Open and the Australian Open and risen to No. 156 in the world. With no ranking points to defend through Wimbledon, the only direction she’ll be going anytime soon is up.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised, for sure,” said Falconi. “At the end of the year, I had to get my ranking up to guarantee a spot in Australia. It was really exciting for my coach and I to go through the steps of planning a trip like that. Being able to qualify in Australia was unbelievable. I like to think that it’s just going up from here.”

Vandeweghe is the latest athletic apple to fall from her family tree. She is following in the footsteps of her mother Tauna, a two-time Olympian, and her uncle Kiki, a former NBA All Star and the current General Manager of the Denver Nuggets.

But while few know what it’s like to live up to that kind of pressure, the 103rd-ranked Vandeweghe is happy to have company in a class of promising young American players. She is joined in Midland by three other Americans just outside the Top 100: No. 108 Christina McHale, No. 115 Alison Riske and No. 133 Jamie Hampton.

“American tennis is always going to be in the tennis world,” said Vandeweghe. “For me to be a part of the next group of Americans in the top tier is a great honor.”

Gullikson, who coaches Vandeweghe, is excited to be in town for what he believes will be an entertaining event. While the snow falls outside the tennis center, Gullikson foresees fast-paced ball-bashing inside.

“On quick courts like these, you’re going to see some big serving, some finishing at the net and girls playing defense,” said Gullikson, “because if the ball is sitting up, there girls can all rock it pretty good. I think you’re going to see an exciting brand of all-court, all-around tennis.”

Main draw play begins on Tuesday with four doubles and five singles matches, highlighted by Hradecka taking on Hampton in the feature match at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court. Following that contest, three ex-college players will take center stage when Elizabeth Lumpkin (UCLA) and Story Tweedie-Yates (Stanford) face Oregon alum Courtney Nagle and Sarah Borwell of Great Britain.

The day session is highlighted by the Midland singles debuts of Lisicki, Falconi and McHale. No. 1 seed Varvara Lepchenko will also be in action.

Dow High teammates Daniella Patton and Kelli Close are back in the doubles draw for the second straight year. They open their 2011 campaign against Gabriela Dabrowski and Whitney Jones on Stadium Court at about 4 p.m.

Before the main draw commences, the qualifying competition with conclude on Tuesday at 10 a.m. as four women try to win their way into the Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Among those in contention are 1998 Midland champion Alexandra Stevenson and U.S. Fed Cup veterans Mashona Washington, Ahsha Rolle and Alexa Glatch.

Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Hradecka vs. Hampton and Lumpkin/Tweedie-Yates vs. Nagle/Borwell cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.

By Joshua Rey

Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Midland Community Tennis Center

Midland, Mich.

Purse: $100,000

Surface: Hard-Indoor

Monday, February 7 – RESULTS


Qualifying Singles – Second round

Alexandra Mueller (United States) def. [1] Beatrice Capra (United States) 7-6(3), 6-3

[6] Mashona Washington (United States) def. [WC] Diana Ospina (United States) 0-6, 6-3, 6-4

[2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) def. Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) 6-2, 6-1

[7] Lena Litvak (United States) def. Anna Livadaru (Germany) 4-6, 6-0, 6-2

[3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) def. Whitney Jones (United States) 6-0, 6-0

[5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def. Robin Anderson (United States) 6-3, 6-2

[4] Alexa Glatch (United States) def. Katie Ruckert (United States) 7-6(3), 6-0

[8] Amanda Fink (United States) def. Jan Abaza (United States) 6-2, 6-2

Tuesday, February 8 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.

Qualifying – Alexandra Mueller (United States) vs. [6] Mashona Washington (United States)

[1] Varvara Lepchenko (United States) vs. Anna Tatishvili (Georgia)

[WC] Shelby Rogers (United States) vs. Sabine Lisicki (Germany)

Stadium Court – not before 4 p.m.

[WC] Kelli Close (United States) and Daniella Patton (Dominican Republic) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Whitney Jones (United States)

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.

Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs. Jamie Hampton (United States)

Elizabeth Lumpkin and Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) vs. [2] Sarah Borwell (Great Britain) and Courtney Nagle (United States)

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.

Qualifying – [2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) vs. [7] Lena Litvak (United States)

Irina Falconi (United States) vs. Katie O’Brien (Great Britain)

Christina McHale (United States) vs. Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia)

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.

Qualifying – [4] Alexa Glatch (United States) vs. [8] Amanda Fink (United States)

Qualifying – [3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) vs. [5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States)

Christina Fusano and Sanaz Marand (United States) vs. [3] Ksenia Pervak (Russia) and Ipek Senoglu (Turkey)

Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller (United States) vs. Irina Falconi and Alison Riske (United States)

ABOUT THE USTA PRO CIRCUIT:

With more than 90 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 32 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering more than $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Among those who have played at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic are seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2011 Australian Open runner-up Na Li.

USTA Pro Circuit Press Release

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Dow Corning Tennis Classic – Sunday Results

Dow Corning Tennis Classic
Midland Community Tennis Center
Midland, Mich.
Purse: $100,000
Surface: Hard-Indoor

Sunday, February 6 – RESULTS

Qualifying Singles – First round
[1] Beatrice Capra (United States) def. Sanaz Marand (United States) 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(8)
Alexandra Mueller (United States) def. Dominika Dieskova (Slovakia) 6-1, 6-1
[WC] Diana Ospina (United States) def. Federica Grazioso (Italy) 6-2, 6-4
[6] Mashona Washington (United States) def. Ester Goldfeld (United States) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
[2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) def. Nicole Robinson (United States) 6-1, 6-3
Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) def. Nika Kukharchuk (Russia) 6-3, 5-7, 6-1
Anna Livadaru (Germany) def. Brittany Lashway (United States) 6-2, 6-0
[7] Lena Litvak (United States) def. Brooke Austin (United States) 6-1, 6-2
[3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) def. Lauren Herring (United States) 6-1, 6-2
Whitney Jones (United States) def. [WC] Ekaterina Zhukoven (Russia) 6-2, 6-0
Robin Anderson (United States) def. Elizabeth Lumpkin (United States) 6-4, 6-0
[5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def. Caitlin Whoriskey (United States) 7-6(0), 6-0
[4] Alexa Glatch (United States) def. Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) 6-4, 6-4
Katie Ruckert (United States) def. Kyle McPhillips (United States) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Jan Abaza (United States) def. [WC] Daniella Patton (Dominican Republic) 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1
[8] Amanda Fink (United States) def. Anastasia Kharchenko (Ukraine) 6-2, 6-0

Monday, February 7 – SCHEDULE

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.
[4] Alexa Glatch (United States) vs. Katie Ruckert (United States)
Robin Anderson (United States) vs. [5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States)
[2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) vs. Story Tweedie-Yates (United States)

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.
Jan Abaza (United States) vs. [8] Amanda Fink (United States)
[1] Beatrice Capra (United States) vs. Alexandra Mueller (United States)
Anna Livadaru (Germany) vs. [7] Lena Litvak (United States)

Court 1 – starting at 10 a.m.
[3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) vs. Whitney Jones (United States)

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Dow Corning Tennis Classic to Feature a Wealth of Promising Women’s Tennis Talent

The 2011 Dow Corning Tennis Classic begins today with qualifying play running February 6-7 and main draw matches being held February 8-13. This year marks the 23rd installment of the event in Midland, Mich. It is the oldest of the 40 women’s tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit, and the only one that boasts $100,000 in prize money.

The Dow Corning Tennis Classic will feature a field of the WTA’s brightest up-and-coming players. Rising Americans Christina McHale, Alison Riske, Coco Vandeweghe, Irina Falconi and Jamie Hampton highlight the entry list. They are joined by three members of the Canadian Fed Cup team competing in Serbia this weekend: Aleksandra Wozniak, Rebecca Marino and Stephanie Dubois. Wozniak is one of three former Top-25 players in the draw, along with Sorana Cirstea and Sabine Lisicki. Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Katie O’Brien will be seeking a second straight Dow Corning title for Great Britain.

At the moment, 17 of the 28 players entered in the main draw are 21 years old or younger, with four qualifiers yet to be determined.

For more information on the tournament: http://www.dowcorningtennisclassic.com


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