2014/04/24

Steve Johnson, Sachia Vickery Earn Main Draw Wild Cards into 2014 Australian Open

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

(December 22, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga. – Steve Johnson and Sachia Vickery each earned main draw wild cards into January’s Australian Open by winning a tournament they almost didn’t play.

 

Vickery, 18, defeated fellow 18-year old Victoria Duval, 6-2, 6-3, while Johnson, 23, defeated 22-year old Tennys Sandgren, 4-6, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, in Sunday’s finals of the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.

 

Johnson and Vickery are now into the singles main draw in Melbourne – Vickery’s first appearance there, Johnson’s second – after winning three matches in three days against some of their up-and-coming American contemporaries in the yearly indoor, hard-court event that easily could have featured neither of them.

 

Johnson contemplated pulling out of it while recovering from a leg injury, while Vickery entered the field as an alternate after Melanie Oudin withdrew.

 

Sachia Vickery

Sachia Vickery

“I was getting ready to go to Auckland, and my coach was like, ‘Well you might get in,’” said Vickery, who called both her mother, Paula Liverpool, and her coach, USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi, after the match. “So, I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see what happens. If it happens, great. If not, I have qualies.’ … I’m very religious, and my mom always says God puts things in situations for a reason.”

 

Vickery, ranked No. 195, earned her second straight wild card into a Grand Slam. She won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship this summer to gain entry into the US Open, where she advanced to the second round in her Grand Slam debut.

 

Saying she fought nerves the whole match, Vickery bothered the rangier Duval, ranked No. 168, by mixing up her serve placement, being aggressive and hitting a few down-the-line winners.

 

Last year, Madison Keys won the Australian Open Wild Card Playoff, using it as a launching pad for her breakout 2013 season. Keys advanced to the third round in Melbourne and is now the youngest player in the WTA Top 40 at No. 38.

 

Vickery said she didn’t feel any challenge to live up to her predecessor.

 

“I don’t feel pressure right this second because I haven’t even processed the fact that I won. I’m sure once the start of the tournament comes around I’ll start feeling it a little bit,” Vickery said. “I’m just so happy to be in the tournament. I wasn’t even supposed to be in this tournament. I barely got in. So, I can’t ask for anything else. I’m just happy to be there.”

 

Johnson, ranked No. 156, could say the same thing. The former Southern California star, who injured his left ankle midway through the fourth set and came back with it heavily taped, faced a match point while serving at 4-5 to the 183rd-ranked Sandgren.

 

Johnson, who won consecutive NCAA singles titles in 2011-12, hit an ace on match point, came back to win the fourth set in a tiebreak and cruised in the fifth.

 

“I just kind of ran the best play I could. Luckily, it worked, and here we are,” Johnson said. “That’s just tennis. He’s one point away from winning, and 20 minutes later I’m up a break and trying to squeeze him for another one.”

 

Johnson lost in the first round of every Grand Slam in 2013. At the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, he lost in five sets.

 

“I’m excited to finally win a five-set match,” he said. “I’m 0-for-4 in life, 0-for-3 this year, so I’m glad to get one.”

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Top Seed Davis Holds Off Kudryatseva at Dow Corning Tennis Classic

LaurenDavis9-27

Lauren Davis

By McCarton Ackerman

(February 8, 2013) MIDLAND, Mich.The hallmark 25th anniversary of the Dow Corning Tennis Classic at the Midland Community Tennis Center continued on Friday with all quarterfinal singles matches and remaining quarterfinal doubles matches taking place. Two of the four semifinalists in the singles draw are Americans, with top seed Lauren Davis and 2012 NCAA singles finalist Mallory Burdette prevailing in tough matches on Stadium Court.

In the comeback of the tournament, top seed Davis rallied from behind on numerous occasions to defeat Alla Kudryatseva of Russia 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-5, after more than three hours of play. Kudryavtseva served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and led 4-0 in the tiebreaker. In the third set, the Russian led 5-2 and had a match point on her serve at 5-3, but was unable to convert. Davis converted on her first match point opportunity with a backhand winner down the line.

“I just never stopped believing in myself,” said Davis. “It seemed like it was almost impossible to come back at that point, so I just asked God to give me strength and help make the impossible to be possible.”

The 19-year-old Davis has come into her own over the last six months, breaking into the world’s top 100 on the back of strong results including quarterfinal finishes at WTA events in Quebec City, Canada and Hobart, Australia, as well winning two USTA Pro Circuit titles last fall at the $75,000 challenger in Albuquerque, N.M. and $50,000 event in Las Vegas.

Burdette and No. 7 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia engaged in a hard-hitting baseline match that took over two hours to complete, but Burdette utilized some markedly improved defense to hang in the rallies and prevail 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. “Today was obviously about first strike tennis, but this is the best I’ve ever felt in terms of my movement and the ability to play defense,” said Burdette. “I’ve been doing a ton of fitness, especially during the off-season and pushing it as hard as I can in that regard.”

Burdette didn’t even have a WTA Tour ranking last July, but opted not to return for her senior year at Stanford University after a stellar summer that included winning the $10,000 futures event in Evansville, Ind., $100,000 challenger in Vancouver, Canada and reaching the third round of the US Open.

“I really wanted to give myself a shot at this and in order to do that, I had to put all of my time and energy into my tennis,” said Burdette. “It’s been great so far. There have definitely been some rough patches, but I’m just trying to do the best I can on a daily basis.”

In the final match of the day session, No. 8 seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico defeated American teen Jessica Pegula 6-3, 7-5. Puig, ranked No. 116, is the only singles semifinalist who has yet to lose a set. In the evening session, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia defeated American Maria Sanchez 6-2, 6-2. The 19-year-old, currently ranked No. 370, is enjoying the best tournament of her career after an injury-plagued 2012 limited her to just six events. The lone match to be completed as of press time is an all-American doubles quarterfinal between Jill Craybas and CoCo Vandeweghe against Chieh-Yu Hsu and Shelby Rogers.

All semifinal singles and doubles matches will take place during Saturday’s play, which begins at noon. The day session will see the American-Russian team of Julia Cohen and Alla Kudryavtseva take on the Brazilian-British team of Maria-Fernanda Alves and Samantha Murray, followed by Mallory Burdette against Ajla Tomljanovic. In the night session, Lauren Davis will square off against Monica Puig, followed by the Hungarian-Croatian team of Melinda Czink and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni against the American team of either Jill Craybas and CoCo Vandeweghe or Chieh-Yu Hsu and Shelby Rogers.

The Dow Corning Tennis Classic is in its 25th year on the USTA Pro Circuit, making it the longest-running women’s event on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Dow Corning Tennis Classic
A USTA Pro Circuit Event
Friday, February 8
Midland Community Tennis Center
Midland, Mich.
Purse: $100,000
Surface: Hard-Indoor

Friday, February 8 – RESULTS

Main Draw Singles – Quarterfinals
Lauren Davis, United States (1), def. Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-5
Mallory Burdette, United States, def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia (7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Monica Puig, Puerto Rico (8), def. Jessica Pegula, United States, 6-3, 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, def. Maria Sanchez, United States, 6-2, 6-2

Main Draw Doubles – Quarterfinals
Julia Cohen, United States, and Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia (3), def. Nicole Melichar and Chiara Scholl, United States 6-4, 6-2
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, and Melinda Czink, Hungary, def. Alexa Glatch and Asia Muhammed, United States, 6-3, 6-3

Saturday’s February 9 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.
Julia Cohen/Alla Kudryavtseva vs. Maria-Fernanda Alves/Samantha Murray, followed by Mallory Burdette vs. Ajla Tomljanovic

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.
Lauren Davis vs. Monica Puig, followed by Melinda Czink/Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Jill Craybas/CoCo Vandeweghe or Chieh-Yu Hsu/Shelby Rogers

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Pegula Upsets No. 4 Seed Czink at Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Jessica Pegula 2

Jessica Pegula

By McCarton Ackerman

(February 7, 2013 )MIDLAND, Mich. – The hallmark 25th anniversary of the Dow Corning Tennis Classic at the Midland Community Tennis Center continued on Thursday with all second round singles matches and remaining first round doubles matches taking place. American teenager Jessica Pegula provided the upset of the day against No. 4 seed Melinda Czink, while top seed Lauren Davis of the US rolled through her second round match.

Utilizing a strong first serve and flat forehand, 18-year-old Pegula dictated the points in her match as early as possible. Running her veteran opponent around the court and not dropping serve once, a lone break of serve in each set was all Pegula needed to move into the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win.

“I just tried to make sure I was ready after my serve because she returns well and then take advantage of any opportunities that came up,” said Pegula. “I definitely thought I executed my game plan well.”

Pegula, now ranked No. 150, jumped over 140 spots in the rankings in 2012 after strong results in USTA Pro Circuit events, including finalist showings at the $100,000 challenger in Vancouver, Canada and the $50,000 challenger in Sacramento, Calif. Today’s win against Czink was one of the biggest of her young career.

“A player like Melinda will play at a high level the whole match, so that’s what I’ve been working on now and trying to do that in every match,” she said.

In an earlier day session match, No. 1 seed Lauren Davis easily beat fellow American Alexa Glatch 6-2, 6-2. In Tuesday’s evening session, Davis struggled for nearly three hours before prevailing in her opening round match.

“I was still a little bit tired from that match, so I knew the match against Alexa today would have to be a lot less physical if I wanted to get the job done,” she said. “I stuck to my game plan and didn’t back down, so I was really happy about that.

Two other Americans also advanced into the quarterfinals. Mallory Burdette, who has climbed to No. 145 in the world after not having a pro ranking just seven months ago, dispatched fellow American and reigning US Open girls’ singles champion Samantha Crawford 6-2, 7-6 (3). Maria Sanchez also prevailed in another all-American match by defeating American teen Victoria Duval 6-2, 6-2. Duval took out No. 2 seed CoCo Vandeweghe in yesterday’s play.

Other players to advance into the quarterfinals include No. 7 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, No. 8 seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia. The lone match to be completed as of press time was an evening session doubles match between Samantha Murray of Great Britain and Maria-Fernanda Alves of Brazil against the American team of Mallory Burdette and Jessica Pegula.

All quarterfinal singles matches and remaining quarterfinal doubles matches will take place during Thursday’s play, which begins at 10:00am. The feature match of the day session will see No. 1 seed Lauren Davis take on Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, while Maria Sanchez of the US square off against Ajla Tomljanovic in the feature evening match.

The Dow Corning Tennis Classic is in its 25th year on the USTA Pro Circuit, making it the longest-running women’s event on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Dow Corning Tennis Classic
A USTA Pro Circuit Event
Thursday, February 7
Midland Community Tennis Center
Midland, Mich.
Purse: $100,000
Surface: Hard-Indoor

Thursday, February 7 – RESULTS

Main Draw Singles – 2nd Round
Lauren Davis, United States (1), def. Alexa Glatch, United States, 6-2, 6-2
Jessica Pegula, United States, def. Melinda Czink, Hungary (4), 6-4, 6-4
Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, def. Tatjana Malek, Germany (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, def. Olga Puchkova, Russia (6), 6-1, 6-4
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia (7), def. Jill Craybas, United States, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2
Monica Puig, Puerto Rico (8), def. Sachia Vickery, United States (Q), 6-4, 6-4
Mallory Burdette, United States, def. Samantha Crawford, United States, 6-2, 7-6 (3)
Maria Sanchez, United States, def. Victoria Duval, United States (LL), 6-2, 6-2

Main Draw Doubles – 1st Round
Chieh-Yu Hsu and Shelby Rogers, United States, def. Jacqueline Cako and Natalie Pluskota, United States (4), 7-6, 7-6
Julia Cohen, United States, and Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, def. Victoria Duval and Sachia Vickery, United States (WC), w/o

Friday’s February 8 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.
Lauren Davis vs. Alla Kudryavtseva, followed by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Mallory Burdette, followed by Jessica Pegula vs. Monica Puig, followed by Melinda Czink/Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Alexa Glatch/Asia Muhammed

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.
Maria Sanchez vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, followed by Jill Craybas/CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Chieh-Yu Hsu/Shelby Rogers

Court 5 – starting not before 2:00 p.m.
Nicole Melichar/Chiara Scholl vs. Julia Cohen/Alla Kudryavtseva

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Duval Stuns Vandeweghe, Vickery Over Townsend in Michigan

 

Victoria Duval photo by Steve Pratt

Victoria Duval photo by Steve Pratt

MIDLAND, Mich., February 6, 2013 – The hallmark 25th anniversary of the Dow Corning Tennis Classic at the Midland Community Tennis Center continued on Wednesday with all remaining first round singles match taking place. 17-year-old American Victoria Duval stunned No. 2 seed CoCo Vandeweghe in the day session, while qualifier Sachia Vickery prevailed in an evening session match between American teens.

Duval, who won the Girls’ 18s National Championship last August, was responsible for the upset of the day by taking out Vandeweghe 7-5, 4-6, 6-1. Duval, who lost in the final round of qualifying yesterday, only moved into the main draw match as a “Lucky Loser” due to a player withdrawal.

“I was really lucky that I got that second chance and tried to make the most of it today,” said Duval. “Yesterday, I was rushing a lot because I really wanted to get into this main draw and was too nervous out there, but I played much smarter today.”

The win was also by far the biggest of her career and the first against a top 100 player on the WTA Tour.

“I’ve smelled those wins against top 100 players before, but to actually come through and pull it out is really nice,” she said.

In the evening session, 17-year-old Vickery used an aggressive baseline game to unseat 16-year-old wildcard Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-3. Townsend was making her pro debut in Midland after finishing 2012 as the No. 1 ranked junior player in the world.

While Townsend used plenty of off-speed slices and spins to try and throw off Vickery, the 17-year-old had too much firepower for her opponent and won four consecutive games at one stage in the second set.

“This is my first win at the $100,000 level and I’ve had some really tough losses in the last few challengers I’ve played, so I’m thrilled to have gotten through this match,” said Vickery. “I just need to stay focused and keep doing the right things so I can hopefully keep playing better this week.”

Vickery, currently ranked No. 376 on the WTA Tour, has not lost a set in her four matches this week. She will play Monica Puig tomorrow for a place in the quarterfinals.

In other day session matches, Alexa Glatch prevailed against fellow American Julia Cohen in a nearly three-hour match 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Maria Sanchez of the US also moved into the second round by easing past Maria-Fernanda Alves of Brazil 6-4, 6-1.

Other players moving into the second round after today include No. 4 seed Melinda Czink of Hungary No. 5 seed Tatjana Malek of Germany, No. 6 seed Olga Puchkova of Russia, No. 7 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, No. 8 seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico and Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia. The lone match to be completed as of press time was a first round doubles match between Americans Nicole Melichar and Chiara Scholl against the Dutch team of former top-10 player Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and her niece, Jainy Scheepens.

First round doubles: Nicole Melichar and Chiara Scholl, United States, def. Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Jainy Scheepens, Netherlands (WC), 6-3, 6-1,

All second round singles matches and remaining first round doubles matches will take place during Thursday’s play, which begins at 10:00am. The feature match of the day session will see No. 1 seed Lauren Davis take on fellow American Alexa Glatch, while No. 7 seed and 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia will take on two-time Dow Corning Tennis Classic champion Jill Craybas of the US in the evening session.

The Dow Corning Tennis Classic is in its 25th year on the USTA Pro Circuit, making it the longest-running women’s event on the USTA Pro Circuit. Several former competitors at the event have gone on to win Grand Slam titles and reach the top 10 in the rankings. Past competitors include seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and Olympic gold medalist Justine Henin, three-time Grand Slam singles champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Grand Slam singles champion Mary Pierce, 2011 French Open singles champion Na Li, 2010 French Open singles champion Francesca Schiavone, and two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Anna Kournikova.

By McCarton Ackerman

Dow Corning Tennis Classic
A USTA Pro Circuit Event
Wednesday, February 6
Midland Community Tennis Center
Midland, Mich.
Purse: $100,000
Surface: Hard-Indoor

Wednesday, February 6 – RESULTS

Main Draw Singles – 1st Round

Victoria Duval, United States (LL), def. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
Melinda Czink, Hungary (4), def. Chieh-Yu Hsu, United States (Q) 6-3, 7-5
Tatjana Malek, Germany (5), def. Shelby Rogers, United States, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (5)
Olga Puchkova, Russia (6), def. Asia Muhammed, United States (WC) 6-3, 6-2
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia (7), def. Alexandra Mueller, United States (Q), 6-1, 6-2
Monica Puig, Puerto Rico (8), def. Alexandra Stevenson, United States, 7-5, 6-4
Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, def. Anne-Liz Jeukeng, United States (WC), 6-4, 6-2
Sachia Vickery, United States (Q), d. Taylor Townsend, United States (WC), 6-4, 6-3

Main Draw Doubles – 1st Round
Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil, and Samantha Murray, Great Britain, def. Irina Falconi and Maria Sanchez, United States, 3-6, 6-1, 10-6
Mallory Burdette and Jessica Pegula, United States, def. Irena Pavlovic, France, and Olga Puchkova, Russia, 7-6 (3), 6-2

Thursday’s February 7 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.
Lauren Davis vs. Alexa Glatch, followed by Maria Sanchez vs. Victoria Duval, followed by Melinda Czink vs. Jessica Pegula, followed by Sachia Vickery/Victoria Duval vs. Julia Cohen/Alla Kudryavtseva

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Jill Craybas, followed by Mallory Burdette/Jessica Pegula vs. Maria Fernanda-Alves/Samantha Murray

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.
Olga Puchkova vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, followed by Tatjana Malek vs. Alla Kudryavtseva, followed by Samantha Crawford vs. Mallory Burdette

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.
Jacqueline Cako/Natalie Pluskota vs. Chieh-Yu Hsu/Shelby Rogers, followed by Monica Puig vs. Sachia Vickery

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