2014/04/17

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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Duval and Vickery Move into Final of the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

 

 

Sachia Vickery

Sachia Vickery

(December 21, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga. – A pair of 18-year olds in  Sachia Vickery and Vicky Duval will play each other Sunday for a main draw wild card into January’s Australian Open. Each advanced to the final of the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners. Vickery defeated Grace Min, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4, and Duval took out Shelby Rogers, 6-4, 7-5. The women’s final begins at 1 p.m.

 

The men’s final between Steve Johnson, who beat Chase Buchanan, 6-0, 6-4, and Tennys Sandgren, who overcame Denis Kudla, 6-3, 7-6(5), will immediately follow. Both matches will be streamed live at www.australianwildcard.com.

 

Duval made her mark thanks to her first-round upset of 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur at Flushing Meadows this past August.

 

Vickery, meanwhile, quietly advanced to the US Open’s second round, beating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets. She’s now ranked No. 195, compared to Duval’s No. 168, but the two have a long history against one another in junior play, and Vickery won their only pro meeting – at the USTA Pro Circuit $100,000 event last February in Midland, Mich. – 6-0, 6-4.

 

“I think I’m always flying under the radar, which, I think, I prefer it that way. I’m a pretty humble person. Being in the spotlight doesn’t bother me that much, but whatever happens happens,” Vickery said. “She’s playing well, and I’m playing well. She’s had an unbelievable summer, and we’re good friends. I just hope we can have a good match tomorrow.”

 

The women’s final between Duval and Vickery is a match-up between the last two USTA Girls’ 18s National Champions. Vickery won it this summer, earning the accompanying wild card into the US Open. Duval won it in 2012, and she went on to play Kim Clijsters in the first round in what was Clijsters’ final tournament before retiring (Duval qualified for the US Open this year).

 

Duval, who said she played a “smart” match to get by Rogers, the top seed, figures to have the majority of the crowd behind her in Sunday’s final, having trained at this very club as recently as three years ago.

 

Or not.

 

“They were behind Sachia today, too,” Duval said. “I think it’ll be split up.”

 

Sunday’s men’s final between two former collegians will be a long one, at least if Sandgren has his way.

 

The men’s final will be played in the same format as an Australian Open main draw match – best of five sets, no fifth-set tiebreak. Sandgren, who was an all-American at Tennessee before turning pro after the 2011 season, hasn’t ever played a five-set match.

 

“I really want to. I hope it goes five,” Sandgren said. “I kind of want to see how I stack up in a long match like that.”

 

Conditioning won’t be a problem for Sandgren, or so said Johnson, the former Southern California star who has played Sandgren twice on the pro tour – most recently in Savannah, Ga., in April – and lost both matches in three sets.

 

“He’s in shape,” said Johnson, the two-time NCAA singles champion whose serve and forehand have played well on Life Time’s indoor courts. “That guy can run for days, and I’ve seen it. So, it’s going to be a battle and I’m really looking forward to it.”

 

Johnson, when asked if he’d rather the conditions at this tournament more closely resemble those typical of Australia in January:

 

“Australia can get pretty hot, so unless they put a nice big heater in here … I think that would be quite uncomfortable for the spectators,” he said. “I like these courts. I don’t mind playing indoors. My serve and forehand, the game style I play, it suits me pretty well.”

 

Sandgren, 22, is currently ranked at a career-high No. 183 thanks to winning the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Champaign, Ill, in November and reaching the semifinals of the Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn., a week earlier.

 

Those are the best results of Sandgren’s pro career. His run of success has carried on through the offseason, thanks in large part to simply winning a few matchs against higher profile opponents – perhaps against Ryan Harrison in Knoxville and Jack Sock in Champaign.

 

“Maybe staying calmer, maybe a little bit better belief in myself,” Sandgren said when asked if he knew the reason for his timely surge. “You get a good win, and that can kind of create an avalanche effect that gets you a few more wins. Playing a little closer to the baseline, being a little bit more aggressive, serving pretty well. Those are things I think I’m doing better than I have been.”

 

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US Open Champ Sam Stosur in First Round of US Open

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USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Roundup for Friday, December 20, 2013

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

(December 20, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga.  – Denis Kudla and Steve Johnson are still on the outside looking in, hoping 2014 is a year their perspectives change for good.

 

Kudla and Johnson, both of whom spent time in the Top 100 this summer, each won their opening matches in the 2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, pocketing the first of three victories needed here to earn a wild card entry into January’s Australian Open and bypass the qualifying rounds that must be achingly familiar to both players.

 

Kudla, the tournament’s top seed, beat former No. 1 collegian Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1, while No. 3 Johnson overcame 2011 French Open boys’ champion Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2). Afterwards, each player spoke on last year’s successes they’d like to repeat and the letdowns they hope to avoid.

 

Johnson, for instance, logged his first full season on tour in 2013 after leaving USC as one of the most decorated college tennis players ever, winning two straight NCAA singles titles and four consecutive team titles, and promptly reaching the third round of the 2012 US Open.

 

Last year, he qualified for the French Open then won a Challenger in Great Britain, after which he was awarded a wild card into Wimbledon. He peaked at No. 97 in early July. Following a first-round loss at this summer’s US Open, though, Johnson lost six of seven matches to end the season. His ranking has fallen to No. 156.

 

“I try to forget about after the Open,” Johnson laughed. “It was a tough couple-month stretch for me. I didn’t win too many matches, but, you know, that’s life. I don’t think I handled the end of the year very well. Especially it being my first year on tour, I think I let the little things really get to me, and I think that’s what led to the bad stretch up north and then to the indoor Challengers.

 

“That’s all behind me,” he added, “and I hope to learn from that and in this upcoming year just get to the end and really know what to do.”

 

Kudla, meanwhile, spent 11 weeks in the Top 100 in 2013, ascending as high as No. 90 after qualifying for both the French Open and Wimbledon – reaching the second round there – and making a quarterfinal appearance at the ATP Queen’s Club event in London.

 

According to the 21-year old from Arlington, Va., it was a “couple of off weeks” that he could have handled better last year to avoid sliding back to No. 114, outside the cut-off ranking for direct acceptances into Grand Slams, where he believes he belongs.

 

That was perhaps most evident when Kudla elected to not defend his points at the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Charlottesville, Va., in November — a tournament he won in 2012 — but instead played in qualifying at the ATP Masters in Paris, where he lost his first match.

 

“You get to a certain ranking and you get into Masters, you gotta play up. That’s how I look at it, at least,” Kudla said. “You gotta play the Masters and get to the next level. I’m not trying to be the best Challenger player. I’m trying to be the best Masters player, Grand Slam player.

 

“I could have had a little better consistency, for sure,” he added. “I thought I had a bad start to the year. I thought last year’s offseason I could have done a lot better, and the U.S. swing I thought should have been way better. And at the end of the year I got hurt, so I kind of just said to myself, ‘Stay healthy.’ Then I really just focused on what I did, and it was kind of a couple of off-weeks I thought I could have handled a little bit better. Hopefully I can repeat the year and do it better.”

 

Jenkins, who grew up a short distance away in College Park, Ga., drew comparisons to Gael Monfils from Kudla, who scrapped the strategy he employed against Jenkins when they were kids.

 

“I played him when I was younger, and I would just try to hit winners,” Kudla said of Jenkins, who nearly won the NCAA “triple crown” last spring at Virginia, winning the NCAA team and doubles titles and reaching the singles final. “But he’s like Monfils, he’s so fast. It’s insane. He’s an incredible athlete. So, I tried to just wear him down, tried to move him left and right. I kind of executed my game plan really well, served really well, was just able to stay on him and came out with a bit easier victory maybe than planned.”

 

Chase Buchanan, the 2012 NCAA doubles champion at Ohio State, fought off Rhyne Williams to earn a comeback victory, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, over the 2011 NCAA singles finalist from Tennessee.

 

Williams, ranked No. 130, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken by the No. 307-ranked Buchanan, who then won a second-set tiebreak and hit, by his estimation, five aces over the final two games of the match to close out Williams, who won last year’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs.

 

Through the fall, Buchanan has played largely outside of the United States – winning Futures titles in Bolivia and Ecuador — and playing in tournaments through South America, Japan and Thailand.

 

“I think it’s really good to get away from playing the same people every single week in the same places,” he said. “I think it’s good to get away, change things up. It gives you a new perspective on kind of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval

Vicky Duval, several months removed from becoming an international star at the US Open by defeating 2011 champion Samantha Stosur in the first round, fell behind to Maria Sanchez in the first set at 4-1 and 5-2, crediting nerves for her slow start and her improving serve for powering her 7-5, 7-5 victory.

 

“My serve was never my weapon,” Duval said. “I’ve worked really hard to turn it into that, so I was happy that I could really count on it in the tough times.”

 

When asked if he thought was an “unknown commodity” internationally, Tennys Sandgren answered by saying, “I don’t feel like I really should be known.”

 

Sandgren is currently at his career-high ranking of No. 183, after finishing 2013 with his first USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title, at Champaign, Ill. On Friday, he credited his movement on court in his 6-3, 6-0 victory over Austin Krajicek.

 

2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

Day 1 results

Quarterfinals

 

Men

No. 1 Denis Kudla d. Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1

Chase Buchanan d. No. 2 Rhyne Williams, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2

No. 3 Steve Johnson d. Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2)

No. 4 Tennys Sandgren d. Austin Krajicek, 6-3, 6-0

 

Women

No. 1 Shelby Rogers d. Sanaz Marand, 6-4, 6-2

Sachia Vickery d. No. 2 Madison Brengle, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

No. 3 Grace Min d. Nicole Gibbs, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

No. 4 Victoria Duval d. Maria Sanchez, 7-5, 7-5

 

Order of play for December 21, 2013

Stadium (7)

12:00 PM

1st Match

DUVAL, Victoria (4) vs. ROGERS, Shelby (1)

Followed by

Kudla, Denis (1) vs. SANDGREN, Tennys (4)

 

Court 5

12:00 PM

1st Match

MIN, Grace (3) vs Vickery, Sachia (7)

Followed by

JOHNSON, Steve (3) vs. BUCHANAN, Chase (7)

For updated draws, each day’s order of play and match live streaming, visit the official tournament site at www.australianwildcard.com.

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Victoria Duval Headlines USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

Victoria Duval

(November 19, 2013) Victoria Duval will headline the field at the 2013 USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, being held December 20-22 at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.

 

The 17-year old American upset the 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the 2013 US Open. She’s currently the youngest member of the WTA top 200, ranked at 168.

 

Other players joining Duval in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs include, Atlanta native and 2011 US Open junior champion Grace Min (No. 153), Shelby Rogers (No. 126) and Madison Brengle (No. 150), who won USTA wild cards into the 2007 and 2008 Australian Opens, as players competing for a singles wild card entry into the 2014 Australian Open. The annual Wild Card Playoffs, will feature eight men and eight women, with the remaining players to be announced at a later date. The USTA secured the opportunity through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, where the two national federations exchanged wild cards for the 2013 US Open and 2014 Australian Open.

For more information www.australianwildcard.com.

 

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Victoria Duval wins Tevlin Challenger in Toronto

Victoria-Duval-e1377837868497

(November 3, 2013) TORONTONo. 7-seeded American Victoria Duval was crowned champion of the 2013 Tevlin Challenger on Sunday after her opponent in the final, top-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary, was forced to retire due to respiratory illness at the start of the second set to give Duval the 7-5 ret. victory at the $50K ITF Pro Circuit event at Rexall Centre in Toronto.

Babos advanced into the final despite struggling with illness all week, and though it was evident versus Duval she was not feeling well, the 20-year-old kept the match close. Duval started strongly, breaking to start the contest before Babos evened up it up after six games to make it 3-3. Babos took a medical timeout after falling behind again 5-4, with the pair then exchanging breaks before Duval was able to serve out the first set. Babos then went down 0-30 on her serve to start the second set before being unable to continue.

The win gives Duval her first career professional singles title and a sweep of the 2013 Tevlin Challenger trophies, as the 17-year-old also clinched her first pro-level doubles title on Friday alongside Canadian partner Francoise Abanda (Montreal).

“It feels great,” Duval said of capturing her first pro crown. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish the match the way I wanted to but it was a really good experience. It was a great week here starting with the doubles. I had a really good time, so hopefully if I don’t come back it means I’m on to bigger and better things.”

Duval, currently ranked world No. 198, defeated three higher-ranked players en route to the trophy, world No. 113 Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in the quarter-finals, No. 141 Andrea Hlavackova of Czech Republic in the semifinals, and No. 95 Babos in the championship match.

“I think mentally is how this week has helped me the most,” Duval said. “Starting from the first round I’ve had to really struggle with tough matches so I think this is definitely a confidence booster for me.”

Taking place at the Centre of Excellence at Rexall Centre in Toronto, the Tevlin Challenger has been running for nine years. Duval now joins an impressive list of past champions that includes 2012 winner Eugenie Bouchard, who is now ranked world No. 32, Aleksandra Wozniak, Heather Watson, and Sabine Lisicki.

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Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Victoria Duval and Taylor Townsend to Headline South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic

 

(October 31, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic is thrilled to announce today that top rising American tennis stars are headlining the upcoming $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Event getting underway on November 3rd. The line-up of young American talent in the Singles Main Draw will include Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Maria Sachez, Madison Brengle, Sachia Vickery, Julia Cohen, Victoria Duval, Jessica Pegula, Nicole Gibbs, Allie Kiick, Taylor Townsend and Chieh-Yu Hsu.

In addition to this, recently announced Wild Card recipients including the Women’s Pro Classic Wild Card Tournament winner Nikki Kallenberg (who will receive a direct entry into the Singles Main Draw) along with the three Singles Main Draw Wild Cards awarded by the USTA to Julia Boserup, Ellie Halbauer and Alexandra Mueller. Receiving the Doubles Main Draw Wild Card is local Southwest Florida residents and doubles duo Kerry Kendricks and Angie Guillette. Additional Singles Qualifying Draw Wild Cards were also awarded to six players.

“The turnout of American players for our first USTA Pro Circuit Event in Captiva Island is tremendous,” said Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood. “We have such an incredible group of young talented women playing in our event that will make for a great week of competitive tennis at a beautiful facility for spectators to enjoy. I hope many of our locals will take advantage of the opportunity to see some of the best up-and-coming American tennis stars playing right in their backyard.”

Of those in the Main Draw, Melanie Oudin, who has been ranked as high as #31 in the WTA Tour Singles Rankings, is known for her thrilling run at the 2009 US Open where she defeated Maria Sharapova to advance to the Quarterfinals. Just this summer, Victoria Duval captured the hearts of Americans at the 2013 US Open after defeating Grand Slam Singles Champion Sam Stosur in the first round. In addition to this, local Florida residents Sachia Vickery and Taylor Townsend have had breakthrough junior accomplishments on their way to playing the USTA Pro Circuit events with Taylor Townsend the winning the Junior Australian Open Singles Championship in 2012 and finishing the year ranked number one in Girls Singles Junior ITF World rankings. In 2013, Sachia Vickery won the USTA National Junior Singles Championships that earned her a spot in the Singles Main Draw of the 2013 US Open.

The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic will be held from November 3rd-10th at the award-winning South Seas Island Resort in beautiful Captiva, Florida. The Main Draw Singles and Doubles will begin on Tuesday, November 5th, with the Finals taking place on Sunday, November 10th. As the last USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event on the calendar in 2013 and opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points for the 2014 Australian Open, the Women’s Pro Classic will showcase world class tennis by bringing the game’s emerging and future tennis stars to the area while benefiting three local philanthropic causes – the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Madisen’s Match and Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Inc.

Throughout the week of the Women’s Pro Classic, there will be a line-up of festivities and fundraising events starting on Sunday, November 3rd, with the FREE Kids Day from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. along with high level competition and tennis action at the two Pro-Am fundraisers on Monday and Tuesday that will all benefit the local philanthropic causes.

This year’s Title Sponsor for the Women’s Pro Classic is the South Seas Island Resort with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille as the Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsors include Sofibella, NU Men’s Formal Tennis, Pro Graphx and PSAV.

The Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy was founded by top 15 ATP Tour player Andrei Pavel and successful junior development coach Nick Blackwood. The Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy provides premier opportunities for both junior and professional players as well as programming for adults of all abilities, including beginners. With a combination of physical training, mental development and an emphasis on education for junior players, the Academy creates an environment where each hard-working player is a winner.

The South Seas Island Resort’s tennis facilities include 11 recently resurfaced hard courts (four lighted courts for nighttime play) making it the finest tennis facility on Sanibel and Captiva that was recently recognized by TripAdvisor as one of the industry’s most outstanding resorts.

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Clock Strikes Midnight for Cinderella Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval(August 29, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – What seemed like a tennis fairytale is over for Victoria Duval. The 17-year-old qualifier ranked 296th in the world, who took out No. 11 seed and former US Open champion Sam Stosur  was defeated by veteran Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3 in the second round on Thursday.

Duval was up a break in each set but the experienced Hantuchova, who was once No. 5 in the world,  used her serve, power and pace to dismantle the teenager. Hantuchova won 63 total points to Duval’s 43 points in the match. Duval committed 7 unforced errors.

“I don’t think I ever felt free in the match today,” Duval told media. “I don’t think it had to do with the score or anything. She hits really hard. I couldn’t quite get myself going. I gave myself a couple chances, but I just never felt comfortable today.”

“I know that was a big win, but I’m not going to go above and beyond myself, just because I think I’m going to set reasonable goals,” Duval said. “This was just another tournament. I’m going to keep working hard.”

“I did better than last year, so I’m happy about that.”

Despite her loss she is very proud of her performance in Flushing Meadows:

“Obviously winning my first round was quite an achievement,“ said Duval.  “I am just really proud that I’ve been able to give myself not only a good image on the court but off the court.

“I think I was touched by all the little kids that came up to me and told me that I’m their role model.  I think for a 17‑year‑old, that’s pretty cool to hear.”

Duival said that she learned this week that she could play at the pro level. She said that Hantuchova served well and was “precise” on her shots.

“I know I have a lot of room to grow,” commented the Floridian on her own game.  “I am still growing right now.  My growth plates are still open.  I’m not sure how that’s happening.

“But I think once my body just settles in, I’m able to work a little more on my fitness.  I haven’t really been able to because, you know, injuries of growing.  Once I start developing and working on my game, I think it will be a lot of success.”

Duval is still competing in the US Open. She is playing with Donald Young in the mixed doubles.

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296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US Open Champ Sam Stosur in First Round of US Open

Victoria Duval

(August 27, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Last year at the US Open, Victoria Duval gained a wild card into the US Open when she won the US Junior Girls’ National 18 and under championship. This year she had to win three matches in the qualifying tournament to make the main draw. She made good use of extra practice on the courts during qualifying to upset No. 11 seed and 2011 US Open Champion Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to move into the second round at Flushing Meadows.

Originally, the 296th ranked Duval who is just 17-years-old  said she wanted to be a ballerina but she took after her brothers’ interest in tennis.

“Actually, my brothers played,” she said.  “So I was a ballerina before tennis.  I would just run around and hit the ball.  I could never hit the strings.  My brother would go to this tournament in Santo Domingo every year.  The tournament director said, your daughter comes and sits on your lap.  Why don’t you have her play in the tournament?

“I was seven.  I had no idea how to keep score, nothing.  It was a 10‑and‑under tournament, I think, and I won it.  I had no idea where to stand on the court or anything.  After that, my mom was, Okay, you have to choose now.  Tennis seemed to be appropriate.”

The effervescent teen born in Florida but grew up in Haiti, with a high pitched voice that could pass for an animated character, did not have an easy road to tennis.

“It was definitely financially difficult, especially after the earthquake.  My dad wasn’t able to work anymore.

“I’ve been very fortunate.  A couple family members have helped me.  Hopefully with this win today, that will change a little bit.”

At one point as a child she and her cousin were held hostage by robbers.

“We were held hostage,” said Duval.  “It’s not a good memory, so I try to forget as much as I could about it.  I don’t remember too much of it anymore, which is great.”

Also in 2010 an earthquake hit Haiti and her father, a doctor, was underneath rubble for nearly 12 hours. He survived with the aid of an American friend who found a helicopter to get him out. However, now her father is unable to work.

“But he’s improving so much,” said Duval.  “Emotionally it was hard at first.  But he’s as happy as he’s ever been.  He had a couple surgeries that helped take the pain away.  We’re just so happy that, you know, he’s in a good state of mind right now.  He’s just here with us.  So it’s incredible.”

In her post-match on-court interview she reflected on how fortunate she really is: “I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what can happen any day. My dad’s fortunate to be here. … I thank God every day for everything that’s happened. Life is short.”

Duvall made much better memories on Tuesday in Louis Armstrong Stadium with her victory.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat a past champion,” Duval said.  “And Sam is amazing.  Although she didn’t play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I’ll take it,” she said with a smile.

“But, yeah, I mean, I have to worry about the next match, so I can’t celebrate too much.”

The tale of the tape showed that Stosur hit 56 unforced errors to Duval’s 35.

“I think she played from the ground pretty decent,” Stosur said.  “You know, she went for her forehand a lot more than maybe what I was expecting, from what I could kind of find out beforehand.  She hit that well.  She hit that cross‑court forehand well.  Moved relatively well, all that.

“I again, she played a pretty good match.  It was certainly a match where I feel like I could have played a lot better than what I did.  At the end of the day, that’s what happened today.  She did well.”

Asked if she was going to become a tennis star, Duval said: That’s what I’m working for.  If God will let it, then let’s go.”

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open

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Sam Stosur Says That it was Time to Get a New Coach

 

Sam Stosur interview

(August 24, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – For Sam Stosur the US Open is the scene of her greatest tennis triumph as she won the title in 2011 over Serena Williams.

“It’s fantastic coming back here,” Stosur said to media.  “I guess it’s the second year coming back to the site of where I have had my best tennis moment.”

“So I think no matter, you know, what leadup you’ve had, however you feel, you can walk in here and think this is pretty cool and relive all those great memories and hopefully make them all happen again.”

Stosur has recently split with her coach of six years David Taylor.

“I think Dave and I, we had been together for a long time, “ the Australian said.  “It was almost six years.  We had some great moments in that period of time.

“Yeah, you know, as these little periods have gone on, I think we both were kind of feeling that we’d almost come to the end.  Unfortunately, it happened to be last week.  I don’t think, neither of us, I’m sure, would have wanted it to happen right then, and obviously with winning that tournament almost makes it seem a little bit strange.

“But I think we both felt that it was time, and, you know, if something’s time is up, then you’ve kind of got to call it a day.”

Stosur is currently working with Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik until she finds a permanent replacement.

She will help me here, and after this tournament I will kind of assess what I want to do, who maybe it can be, and go from there.” Stosur said.  “But there is no one in particular at the moment.”

The 11th seed’s first round opponent will be young American qualifier Victoria Duval on Tuesday.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Defending Girls’ 18s Champion Victoria Duval Begins Her Title Defense on Winning Note

Victoria Duval

San Diego, Calif. – (August 5, 2013) – After receiving a first-round bye, defending champion Victoria Duval of Bradenton, Fla. began her title defense at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships in impressive fashion on Stadium Court at the Barnes Tennis Center as she blanked Aryn Greene of Alpharetta, Ga., 6-0, 6-0.

The third-seeded Duval, who is currently ranked 292 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles rankings, advances to a third-round meeting on Tuesday afternoon against unseeded Rebekah Anderson of La Mirada, Calif.

“It feels good. I love playing here. I played some of my best tennis here last year, so hopefully I’ll do it again,” Duval said following her 2nd round victory. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to it. The wild card into the US Open is a big deal. It’s something we all want to achieve. Hopefully I’ll get to do it a second time.”

In other Girls’ 18 second-round action, top-seeded Sachia Vickery of Miramar Fla. defeated Lindsey Hodge of Roswell, Ga., 6-4, 6-2 and second-seeded Alexandra Kiick of Plantation, Fla. eliminated Chuyang Guan of San Antonio, 6-0, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Taylor Townsend also advanced to the third round after getting past unseeded Caroline Lampl of Bluemont, Va., 4-6, 7-5, 6-0.

The tournament named 17-year-old Kennan Johnson of Baton Rouge, La., as the Babolat Player of the Day. Johnson took the initiative on her own to pitch in and help the tournament staff to clean up following a player dinner last Saturday night after the Opening Ceremony.

Johnson then asked if she could take the leftover food from the dinner to give to local homeless people in need. Accompanied by her mother and grandmother, Johnson distributed the food in the nearby Ocean Beach community.

The award, which is presented to a player each day of the event, is based equally on competitive achievement and sportsmanship.

Nearly 400 girls aged 16 and 18 and under are competing for the title of National Champion, as well  as a Wild Card entry into the singles main draw of the US Open Women’s Championships (for the 18s Champion) and a Wild Card into the US Open Junior Championships (for the 16s Champion). The 18s Doubles Champions will also receive a Wild Card into the main draw of the US Open Women’s Doubles competition.

In addition to the Barnes Tennis Center, early round matches are also scheduled at San Diego State University and University of San Diego. (Please see schedule below) Spectator admission is free at all sites each day of the tournament. Parking is free at the Barnes Tennis Center. There is a nominal charge for parking at SDSU and USD.

To view the complete tournament draws go to: http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=121938

Past tournament champions include Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

Tournament Information

Website                            –     www.ustagirlsnationals.com/

Starting times                  –     8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3 – Thursday, Aug. 8
9 a.m., Friday, Aug. 9 – Sunday, Aug. 11

Locations                        –     Saturday, Aug. 3 – Sunday, Aug. 11, Barnes Tennis Center, 4490 W. Point Loma
Blvd., San Diego, Calif. 92107

Saturday, Aug. 3 – Tuesday, Aug. 6, (Early Rounds) San Diego State University,
Aztec Recreation Center, 5301 55th Street, San Diego, Calif. 92182

Sunday, Aug. 4 – Wednesday, Aug. 7, (Early Rounds) University of San Diego,
5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, Calif. 92110

About USTA Girls’ 16s – 18s Nationals:
The USTA Girls’ 16s Nationals has been directed by Youth Tennis San Diego (YTSD) since 1990.  This year will be the 24th anniversary of this event in San Diego, and 2013 marks the fourth year of the combined G16s – G18s event at the Barnes Tennis Center. As the largest and most prestigious junior girls’ tennis event in the United States, the USTA National Championships field consists of two draws, 192 players in each, selected from the top players who enter the event.  The participants represent every USTA Member Section and nearly every state in the United States.

About Youth Tennis San Diego:
The USTA Girls’ Nationals is the most prestigious of over 40 tournament events held at the Barnes Tennis Center each year.  The Center is owned and operated by Youth Tennis San Diego, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that has been in existence since 1952.  The YTSD Mission is:  “To promote the educational, physical, and social development of all youth through organized tennis and educational activities.  Our community programs encourage youth participation, personal integrity, leadership, and competitive spirit in a friendly environment that builds responsible citizens.” For information on sponsoring the USTA Girls’ Nationals or to be a tournament volunteer, please contact the Barnes Tennis Center at 619-221-9000.

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