2014/09/18

Victoria Duval Diagnosed with Cancer

 

Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval

(July 4, 2014) World No. 114 Victoria Duval has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Here is a statement from her agent IMG:

From IMG: Vicky Duval has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was first diagnosed after a biopsy was taken in England before Wimbledon and further test in the United States have confirmed the results. Hodgkin’s is the most common form of cancer in adolescents and fortunately the cancer was caught in a very early stage. Vicky will undergo treatment right away and due to her overall good health and isolation of the cancer, the prognosis is a full recovery in a few months.

“It is with a heavy heart that I will have to step away from tennis competition for a short period after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I received the news after my first round of qualifying at Wimbledon but decided to continue to compete. Being on court provided me with much comfort. I have complete faith that God will assist me and my family with all that we need, to achieve victory and become stronger from this journey. I intend to put up my best fight and have a full recovery. I picture myself healthy, stronger and competing again soon with even more appreciation for the game I so love. I am grateful in advance to my fans and friends for their support and positive thoughts while I will undergo my treatment and fight this battle.”

Duval was diagnosed after her first round qualifying tournament match at Wimbledon, but still continued to play, making the main draw and advancing to the second round.

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Halep and Wozniacki Advance at Wimbledon

(June 27, 2014) WIMBLEDON – French Open finalist and third seed Simona Halep and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki advanced at Wimbledon on Friday, moving into the third round and fourth round, respectively. The start of the day’s matches on the outer courts were delayed by about 30 minutes as rain had been expected around Noon.

Halep took a 6-3, 3-0 lead just to see it vanish and be forced into playing a third set against world No. 170 Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine. Halep went on to win the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

“I didn’t play my best today,” said Halep. “It was tough match. I expected that she will play very well; she did.”

“You know, on grass is not easy. Every match is difficult. You never know who will win or who will lose because the court, it’s really difficult.

“I believed in my chance today, but after I lost second set, I said that maybe I lose the match because I didn’t feel my game.

“But I was keep fighting and I was enjoying in the third set after I took the break out of the court.

“I left the pressure outside and I just wanted to hit the balls and to stay aggressive.”

The Dane Wozniacki had a 6-3, 6-0 win over Ana Konjuh of Croatia, winning the last 9 games of the encounter.

“She is a very powerful player, Wozniacki said. “When I was in trouble, especially in the first set, I managed to serve some good serves, make some aces.
“It was good. I’m pleased with the way it turned out today. You know, she’s definitely someone to look out for in the future.”

“I think she’s going to be very good. She’s 16. She has some big shots. She has a good serve.”

In a battle between a pair promising teenagers, 17-year-old former No. 1 Junior, Swiss Belinda Bencic defeated 18-year-old U. S. teen Victoria Duval 6-4, 7-5.
Bencic will play Halep for a place in the fourth round.

“I wanted to enjoy the moment for sure, but also I felt a little bit pressure because I was better ranked player in this match,” Bencic said of the win.

“But anyway, I just tried to focus my match and not to think about against who I play.”

Bencic said that she’ll feel no pressure when she plays Halep.
“Of course I’m going to the court and I think I have a chance to beat her and I really want to win.

“So I will just have no pressure, but I will try to give my best and fight.”

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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Victoria Duval Joins Pack of Young U.S. Women into Second Round of Wimbledon

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

(June 24, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 114 Victoria Duval came through Wimbledon qualifying with a back injury last week. This week she’s taken out 29th seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of Wimbledon. Born in Miami, the 18-year-old of Haitian heritage, playing Wimbledon for the first time, joined a group of young American women making their All England Club debut including Madison Keys and Alison Riske advancing to second round.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

She announced herself last year when she took out 2011 U.S. Open Champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the U.S. Open. ” That was one of my best playing days that I can remember,” said Duval.

“I have my expectations of myself,” Duval said. “I’m not thinking about following up a win. I’m just thinking about winning all the time.”

She said it was “pretty crazy” to think she was actually playing at Wimbledon and that it did not sink in until during the third set.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

Madison Keys, 19, who won her first WTA title three days ago in Eastbourne, finally got in the win column against Monica Puig, defeating the woman from Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-3.

“She’s a great player and we’ve played a couple of times,” Keys said.  “She’s beaten me a couple of times.

“But I was really just trying to go in and just stick to my game plan, not really worry about who is on the other side of the net.”

Alison Riske joined the USA party by upsetting 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

Missing out on the winning experience was wild card Taylor Townsend who fell to 31st seed Klara Koukalova 7-5, 6-2

“Definitely it was a great experience,” Townsend said despite the loss.  “I’m really glad that I was able to get the wildcard and be here, first and foremost.

“I definitely am not pleased about my match, but it’s just a learning experience really.  I’m just going to take what I’ve learned over the past two slams.  I’m going to go back home.  I’m going to work extremely hard and get ready for the US Open Series.

“I have tons of tournaments to look forward to and a lot of great things are ahead, but it’s time to just put my head down and work again.”

“There are a lot of things I still need to work on in my game,” said Duval. Improving mentally, physically and getting stronger.”

Duval will face an opponent younger than herself in Belinda Bencic.

“I’m looking forward to it, it should be very exciting,” said an enthusiastic Duval.

“My goal is to win a couple of more rounds,” she said. “You come into a tournament hoping to win it.”

“My goal was top 100,” which she has reached by virtue of her win on Tuesday. “Keep improving keep winning.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open

296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US . Open Winner Sam Stosur

Clock Strikes Midnight for Cinderella Victoria Duval

 

 

 

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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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Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open

IMG_3256

By Amy Fetherolf

(March 22, 2013) MIAMI – I sat down with Victoria Duval, a 17-year-old Haitian-American tennis player who caught the public’s attention when she played her first WTA Tour-level match on Arthur Ashe Stadium against the retiring Kim Clijsters at the 2012 US Open. In Miami, she earned her second tour-level win, upsetting Andrea Hlavackova in the first round before falling to Jelena Jankovic in the next round.

Amy Fetherolf: You were born here in Miami, and you’ve spent a lot of time training in South Florida. What has your experience been like, playing this tournament in such a familiar environment?

Victoria Duval: It was really incredible. The crowd was amazing, too. I had a lot of support, and family was here, so it was awesome.

AF: This was just your fifth WTA tour-level match. What’s the biggest challenge in making that jump to the next level?

VD: It’s a lot of experience, learning a lot of new things, getting a lot of confidence on the way, too. It’s just mostly learning for me right now.

AF: Which players have you looked to for inspiration?

VD: I looked up to Clijsters, and Venus. I’ve been actually in contact with [Venus] a little bit through email. She’s helping me, she’s really nice. That’s been really special.

AF: Do you have any particular goals you’re setting for yourself this year?

VD: Definitely being able to get into at least the qualifying of the Slams this year with my ranking, and making the most of the wild cards I get.

AF: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do as a tennis player so far in your career?

VD: Playing Clijsters on Ashe, for sure.

AF: Did you gain a lot of new fans from that experience?

VD: I had my stardom for two days. People were coming up to me for two days like, “Didn’t you play last night?” But that was really cool.

AF: What aspect of your game do you think you need to work on to get to the next level?

VD: Definitely my serve is a big liability right now. I’m going to be hitting thousands of serves as soon as I get back.

Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN). She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

Related article:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

 

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A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval photo by Steve Pratt

 

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Tennis may already have a player with the nickname “sunshine” in Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, but in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night a 16-year-old wild card entrant from Florida may be taking that “sunshine” nick name away from the Dane. Meet the US National 18 and under champion and Florida native Victoria Duval. She was a hit with both the public and media at the US Open despite losing to 25th seed Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-1.

The charming, high-pitched teenager ranked 562 in the world welcomed the fact that she drew Clijsters, one of her idols in the first round. I felt like one of the luckiest 16-year-olds ever,” said Duval. To play Clijsters in her last tournament, it was exciting.”

It was like history repeating, when Clijsters was 16, she played Steffi Graf in the German’s last tournament. “She told me that walking out to the court,”Duval noted.

“I had moments when I was younger when I played Steffi (Graf) at Wimbledon and she was my big idol,” Clijsters said. “So it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.

“It was nice in a way to get a feeling of the atmosphere from her side. I just told her that we’ve all been there, and it’s great to have these opportunities. We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. I think she has a good game to be out there.”

“I was saying that I couldn’t even sleep I was so excited, so she (Clijsters) said ˜I know how you feel.”

From the moment she stepped on court, the New York crowd was supporting the teenager and loudly cheered her on, for every point and game she won. It was the Floridian of Haitian descent’s first-ever tour-level main draw match.

“Indescribable feeling,” was Duval’s reaction in regard to 23,000 fans supporting her, “it was much more than I expected. The whole atmosphere was just incredible.”

“I was really nervous. But I thought I did a good job of not showing it.”

“What surprised me was the crowd, it was a different experience when you are hearing it on TV than when you are actually there. Having all those people behind me since the first game, it was incredible,” said the teenager with almost the sense of disbelief.

Duval actually had a 3-2 lead in the first set against Clijsters, “Walking to the chair, I was like, `I am actually up 3-2 right now!'” Duval said. “She definitely picked up her level a lot¦.she played like Kim Clijsters from that point on.”

Duvall”s engaging personality dismissed the struggles her family has had while living in Haiti. Although she was born in Florida, she grew up in Haiti where her parents are from. As a child, Duval and some of her cousins were taken hostage by robbers.

Her father also survived a 2010 earthquake in Haiti, in which he survived being buried under rubble and his legs were broken.

Her hardships have made her and her tennis stronger.

“It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying, no matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by,”

“We were in the locker room and Kim asked to take a picture, just for her memory. I thought that was so nice cuz I was he one that should be begging her her for her picture.”

“She is definitely, you know, my idol, and that”s why it shows again why she”s a nice person.”

Duval”s other tennis idols include Venus and Serena Williams.

“I got a chance to see Venus,” Duval commented. “I didn’t get a chance to interact with her.. but hopefully I”ll get a chance because I love her too.”

“I get compared to Venus with my game, because of our physicality, “ Duval said. “So I always watch her tapes to see what I can improve in my game.”

Answering a question on whether or not she’ll reach Venus’s height, Duval quipped: “I was told my growth plates are still open, so it looks goooood!!! Six feet, C’mon!”

With a large Haitian community in the New York City area I asked her about their support. I’m sure a lot of them were watching,” Duval said. “Maybe all of Haiti but I don’t know.”

Duvall may be out of the women’s singles but she’ll play the Junior tournament. “Downgrading,” she said jokingly. Last year she played three junior slams – the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

She’s planning on playing more professional tournaments, while playing some of the junior Grand Slam events. She’s hoping to get her ranking high enough to play in the professional ranks. “My dream is playing pro tennis,” Duval said.

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

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Clijsters, Federer Victorious in US Open Night Session

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer both stopped young Americans on Opening Night at the 2012 US Open.

Clijsters, after an inconsistent start, held herself together to dispatch 16-year-old Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 while Federer pushed back Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

“The U.S. Open, for me, was always, I don’t want to say easy, but very natural and I’ve always looked forward to it in a big way,” Federer said in his quest for a record sixth US Open title in the Open Era.

“It’s a place that brings out the best in me,” Federer said.

Young who had a 17-match losing streak earlier in the year,  saw his 2012 record fall to 3-22.

Duval who received wild-card by virtue of winning the  National Girls’ 18 and under  championship event in San Diego earlier in the summer, is ranked 562nd in the world. This was her first WTA tour-level match – a debut at a major on Opening Night.

“I was freaking out,” said effervescent Duval.

Clijsters herself said she was nervous “It was a special occasion. … I was nervous, maybe almost as much as she was,” Clijsters said.

“I was just excited to be out there and to have, you know, the opportunity to play in this kind of condition, prime time.

“You know, a night match, it’s always a very special occasion.  The energy, when you step out on court also after the opening show, the stadium was almost full.  So it was a lot of fun to go out there.

“But, you know, still a bit nervous, too.”

Duval grew up from some difficult circumstances. She  was born in Florida and grew up in Haiti and as child was taken hostage by robbers along with her cousins. In 2010, her father was injured in Haiti’s earthquake, buried under rubble but survived his injuries.

She feels that her life has helped her tennis: “It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying: No matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by, no matter how down and out I am, I can get out of it.”

A giggling Duval said that Clijsters snapped a photo with Duval in the locker room  after the match.

“I thought that was so nice, because I was the one that should be begging her for a picture,” said a joyful Duval said. “She’s definitely my idol.”

Clijsters, a three-time US Open Champion is playing her last US Open. She’s retiring again at the end of the year. She had previously retired in 2007. She has won 22 straight US Open matches.

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

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15-year-old Duval Has First Pro Win at Dow Corning Tennis Classic

MIDLAND, Mich., February 9, 2011 – After leaving Florida and landing in Michigan earlier this week, 15-year-old Victoria Duval said that she couldn’t wait to play in the snow.

On Wednesday, she turned Stadium Court at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic into her own personal playground, falling to the surface and waving her arms in the shape of a snow angel after defeating Mashona Washington 6-3, 6-3 in a first-round match.

The wild card Duval delivered on her very first professional victory in a main draw, dictating play with her forehand against the 34-year-old qualifier.

“In the first three games I was tight,” said Duval, who does not have a WTA Tour ranking. “But I said: ‘You know what. I have nothing to lose right now. Just go for it.’ I was so free and I hit so loose, which helped me a lot. Next round, I’m going to be even looser.”

Washington entered the match with 16 years of professional experience, cracking the Top 50 in 2004 and reaching the Dow Corning Tennis Classic final in 2002.

But while Washington scolded herself as she struggled to find the range on her shots, Duval appeared as if she were simply playing a practice match back at IMG Academies in Bradenton.

“You don’t see very many pros get emotional like the juniors,” said Duval. “I just said, ‘I belong here and I have to do what everyone else does.’ I stayed calm and it worked.”

Leading 6-3, 4-3, Duval earned two break points by running Washington ragged behind the baseline before bringing the veteran to the net with a short slice. Though Washington reached that ball, she was helpless when Duval passed her with an inside-out backhand winner.

Duval clinched the break, and then the match, by pushing Washington deep into the court and forcing forehand errors. Unable to contain the emotions she’d been bottling up for 76 minutes, Duval squealed as she raced to grab her towel, and then collapsed to the center of the indoor court.

The snow was outside, but Duval didn’t care: She spread her arms wide as if she could penetrate the hard court and permanently leave an imprint of her body.

“I’m going down in five, four, three, two, one,” Duval said she told herself. “I’m beyond excited. I can’t even believe it.”

After a quick call to her mother, Duval was handed another cell phone by a smiling Sabine Lisicki, who also trains at IMG. The man on the other line was Nick Bollettieri, who congratulated Duval on the first of many professional wins.

Drawn to play a qualifier, Duval could have been matched against big-hitters Alexandra Stevenson, Ahsha Rolle or Alexa Glatch. She was happy to have faced Washington, a counterpuncher whom she believed could not overpower her. ’Turns out, she was right.

“I like the way she plays,” said Duval, the No. 1-rated sophomore in the nation according to TennisRecruiting.net. “She doesn’t have too many weapons, but also makes you earn every point. I like a good challenge and I was ready for anyone in the qualies. But she seemed to suit my game the best.”

Duval said that she plans to play the French Open and Wimbledon junior tournaments this season after compiling a 32-11 singles record on the ITF Junior Circuit in 2010.

She is making her eighth appearance at a professional event, having lost her pro debut 6-0, 6-1 to Rebecca Marino one year ago in Memphis.

Who should await Duval in the Midland second round but the 6-foot-tall Marino, who overpowered Glatch in a 24-minute first-set before surviving 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(5).
“It wasn’t my best day of tennis, but I’m glad I was able to pull through and tough it out,” said Marino, “especially after losing the second set quite easily and being down a break in the third… I was able to come back and fight through that very scrappily – if that is a word (laughs).”

Marino didn’t make it to the Midland Community Tennis Center until Tuesday night, having played Fed Cup in Serbia over the weekend. On Monday, she rode with her teammates from Novi Sad to Belgrade, and then flew from Belgrade to Munich and Munich to Chicago before a cancelation forced her to stay overnight in the Windy City.

But the Vancouver-native showed no signs of jetlag at the start against Glatch. She followed a knifing slice backhand winner with a devastating down-the-line forehand winner on consecutive points, proving that there’s more to her than a serve.

Glatch stayed steady in spite of the barrage of shots coming off her opponent’s racquet. The American served for the match at 5-4 in the final set, and again at 5-4 in the deciding tiebreaker.

With the win on her racquet, Glatch made the mistake of pitting her strength (the serve) against Marino’s (the forehand). Marino read Glatch’s first serve and pummeled a deep forehand return to force an error and even the tiebreak at 5-5. She proceeded to bash back-to-back inside-out forehand winners to finish Glatch off.

“It’s these matches that make you realize how much you want to play and what it takes to stay in matches,” said Marino, who finished with 11 aces in just 13 service games.

Like Marino, Frenchwoman Stephanie Foretz-Gacon needed a third-set tiebreak to advance to the second round. She and Heather Watson of Great Britain pushed each other physically over the course of two hours and 54 minutes, but they saved their best shots for last.

Foretz-Gacon took a 5-3 third-set lead by retrieving two straight overhead smashes from Watson, blocking the second one back at the Brit’s feet to draw a half-volley error.

Watson broke back for 4-5 by winning one of the longest rallies of the match, throwing up a backhand lob that nearly hit the ceiling before Foretz-Gacon finally let loose on a forehand long.

Watson’s ranking has jumped from No. 556 to No. 142 since she played in Midland last season, and she showed why as she served to stay in the match at 4-5.

Moments after she couldn’t put Foretz-Gacon away with her overhead, Watson was faced with déjà vu. On game point, the Brit hit two swinging volleys and another smash, but could not get the ball past the Frenchwoman. On her fourth shot from the net, Watson took the pace off her forehand volley and dropped it short for a winner.

“It was always close – like 30-all every game,” said Foretz-Gacon. “I knew she could come back, so I was prepared for that. I fought until the end.”

After each player held, Foretz-Gacon earned two match points by taking a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker. Watson saved the first in a scintillating 16-shot rally and the second with a daring inside-out forehand return winner.

Foretz-Gacon rebounded to earn a third match point at 7-6, and this time she took the pace off one of her shots, slicing a short backhand cross-court that caused Watson to lose control and miss her own backhand wide.

“I was really happy to win the final-set tiebreak like this,” said Foretz-Gacon after her 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(6) win. “Thanks to my backhand slice – I didn’t hit too many today. But it was perfect, I hit it low on the court and it was a hard shot for her to get.”

Also advancing on Wednesday were qualifiers Stevenson and Rolle, who have both won four matches in as many days. Stevenson, the 1998 Midland champion, flummoxed No. 8 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2. Rolle had an even easier time with No. 3 seed Evgeniya Rodina, running roughshod through the Russian 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes.

Stevenson and Foretz-Gacon will meet in the second round on Thursday, while Rolle takes on Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.

Now in her fourth full season on the WTA Tour, the 18-year-old Larcher de Brito got a monkey off her back on Sunday by winning her first professional title at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

After winning matches at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2009, Larcher de Brito dropped out of the Top 200 last season.

“I lost a lot of motivation,” said Larcher de Brito. “I used to have a lot of fight in me, but this past year I haven’t been fighting at all. I don’t know what happened, but I’m getting over it now.”

Larcher de Brito was the last player accepted into the Midland main draw, making the cut on Saturday when Stephanie Dubois of Canada withdrew.

She nearly made the trip to Michigan in vain, arguing with the chair umpire about line calls as she fell behind 3-0 in the third set against Julie Coin of France.

Just like that, something clicked inside Larcher de Brito. She won 20 of the next 25 points to take a 5-3 lead, reversing her negative emotions by yelling: “Come on,” “Vamos,” and “Davai”. Though Coin held for 4-5, Larcher de Brito served out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win at love.

“When I was 3-love down, I thought I was going to go home,” said Larcher de Brito, who made her pro debut at the 2007 Dow Corning Tennis Classic. “But I got myself together and started getting more balls in, because I had been trying to hit winners all the time.”

All eight second-round singles matches will be played on Thursday, highlighted by a 7 p.m. encounter between two of the quickest players on tour: No. 4 seed Anne Keothavong of Great Britain and American upstart Irina Falconi. After missing six months with a knee injury, Keothavong has worked her way back into the Top 100, while Falconi has flown up to No. 156 in just seven months as a professional.

Following that contest, Rolle and Washington will team up to take on Rodina and Liga Dekmeijere in the feature doubles match. Already in 2011, Rolle and Washington have won a pair of doubles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Rolle vs. Larcher de Brito, Marino vs. Duval and Stevenson vs. Foretz-Gacon are among the singles matches scheduled during the day session. Lucie Hradecka, the 2009 champion and 2010 runner-up in Midland, will play Anna Tatishvili at noon on Court 3.

By Joshua Rey

Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Keothavong vs. Falconi and Rolle/Washington vs. Rodina/Dekmeijere cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.

Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Midland Community Tennis Center

Midland, Mich.

Purse: $100,000

Surface: Hard-Indoor

Wednesday, February 9 – RESULTS


Singles – First round

[6] Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) def. Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) 6-4, 6-1

[Q] Ahsha Rolle (United States) def. [3] Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) 6-1, 6-1

Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal) def. Julie Coin (France) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4

[7] Ksenia Pervak (Russia) def. Alison Riske (United States) 6-3, 6-3

[5] Sorana Cirstea (Romania) def. [WC] Jessica Pegula 7-6(6), 6-3

Madison Brengle (United States) def. Olga Savchuk (Ukraine) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

[4] Anne Keothavong (Great Britain) def. [WC] Brittany Augustine (United States) 6-0, 6-2

[Q] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def. [8] CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) 6-3, 6-2

Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (France) def. Heather Watson (Great Britain) 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(6)

[WC] Victoria Duval (United States) def. [Q] Mashona Washington (United States) 6-3, 6-3

[2] Rebecca Marino (Canada) def. [Q] Alexa Glatch (United States) 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(5)

Doubles – First round

Beatrice Capra and CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) def. [1] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) and Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) 0-6, 6-4, [10-6]

Jamie Hampton (United States) and Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) def. Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier (Canada) 6-3, 7-5

Thursday, February 10 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.

Sabine Lisicki (Germany) vs. [6] Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia)

[WC] Victoria Duval (United States) vs. [2] Rebecca Marino (Canada)

[Q] Ahsha Rolle (United States) vs. Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal)

Jamie Hampton (United States) and Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) vs. [3] Ksenia Pervak (Russia) and Ipek Senoglu (Turkey)

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.

Irina Falconi (United States) vs. [4] Anne Keothavong (Great Britain)

Liga Dekmeijere (Latvia) and Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) vs. Ahsha Rolle and Mashona Washington (United States)

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.

Sorana Cirstea (Romania) vs. Madison Brengle (United States)

Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) vs. [7] Ksenia Pervak (Russia)

[4] Sorana Cirstea (Romania) and Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) vs. Amanda Fink and Lena Litvak (United States)

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.

[Q] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) vs. Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (France)

Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) vs. Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic)

Beatrice Capra and CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Whitney Jones (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.

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