Posts Tagged ‘Sloane Stephens


US teenager Sloane Stephens shocked seventh-seeded German Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday at the WTA San Diego Open to earn her first career victory over a Top 20 player.

Stephens, ranked 131, ambushed the 20th-ranked Goerges, who won the Stuttgart title on clay and beat number one Caroline Wozniacki twice in the first half of the season. Stephens was 0-3 against the Top 20 before beating Goerges.

Russian Vera Dushevina ousted another seed at La Costa, defeating number 16 Slovenian Polona Hercog 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round. Austrian Tamira Paszek did the same but without firing a shot as number 11 Russian Maria Kirilenko withdrew before their second-round match due to a left hip injury. Pasek and Stephens now face off in a battle of young guns for a quarter-final spot. Stephens, 18, won back-to-back matches for the first time in her career at the WTA level after beating China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. The American said she was frankly surprised to have advanced over Goerges. “I had nothing to lose but I wasn’t expecting a win,” Stephens said. “She played well with a few mistakes,” Stephens added of Goerges, who has now lost all three of her post-Wimbledon matches. “She’s still an awesome player, she’s not just any girl. “She didn’t have her greatest day and maybe I did. I’m happy to take this victory.” Goerges said that her season’s goal is to improve her consistency. “I’ve been down and up and now maybe a bit down. There are a lot of good young players out there,” said the 23-year-old. “I need to stay consistently at my level. “I’m going back to the practice courts.”

Goerges was one of a trio of fast-rising Germans making their San Diego debuts. Second seed Andrea Petkovic is already into the third round after a bye and victory while number 12 Sabine Lisicki will play a second-round match against 40-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm, winner of the title a decade and a half ago.


Safina wins but faces the ‘hot’ Hantuchova next.

Dinara Safina recovered an early service break to defeat Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-3, 6-3 in the night session. It was just the second win this season for two-time Indian Wells quarter-finalist Safina, who had dropped to a No. 108 ranking coming into the week. Safina will look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since last September in Seoul when she next meets Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, a winner of two BNP Paribas Open titles. Safina leads the head-to-head series 6-4, including wins in four of their past five meetings.

Wild card Sloane Stephens defeated qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-4 in an all-American match Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open to set up a second-round clash with WTA No. 1 and returning finalist Caroline Wozniacki. The 17-year-old Stephens achieved her career-best win on her tour-level debut here last year, when she came through the qualifying rounds and defeated a 67th-ranked Lucie Hradecka before falling to No. 12 Vera Zvonareva. Hampton, the lone American among the 12 qualifiers, was looking for her first win in her sixth tour-level main draw appearance. Another wild card recipient, Christina McHale, had little difficulty getting past Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, posting a 6-3, 6-1 victory in 65 minutes. The 18-year-old New Jersey native made her Indian Wells debut last year (l. to King). Jill Craybas fell in the first round on her 11th BNP Paribas Open appearance, beaten by Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-3. The 36 year old had fared well in her most recent visits to the desert, reaching the third round in 2010 (l. to Bartoli) and fourth round in ’09 (l. to Safina).

Russian Ekaterina Makarova handed Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino her first loss in a first-round match this season, defeating the 20 year old 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in just over two hours. Marino had reached her maiden tour-level final last month in Memphis. In other matches Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Great Britain’s Elena Baltacha defeated Italian Roberta Vinci 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Urszula Radwanska prevailed against Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) in two hours and 49 minutes.


Sloane Stephens moves on in singles and doubles.

 Sloane Stephens overcame a slack start for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win against Karolina Pliskova. Stephens didn’t often hit with overwhelming power during the quarterfinal match, which made it all the more lethal when she used it.

At deuce, 4-5 on Pliskova’s serve in the second set, the big Czech hit a looping forehand crosscourt and clearly expected the same in return from Stephens, but what she got from the American was a flat ball ripped down the line for a winner — from two feet behind the baseline. Stephens followed that with excellent defense. Pulled wide to her forehand side, she hit a desperation slice to stay in the point and sprinted back toward the other sideline, anticipating the put-away to open court.

Stephens had evened the match, and had the momentum, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. She took the match with a 5-3 hold that was painful to watch. Stephens was swinging harder than ever on her serve and ground-strokes, but Pliskova imploded. One forehand went wide, one into the net, and another almost hit the backstop. Stephens ended her misery with a service winner to the T.

Stephens next meets Daria Gavrilova of Russia in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, Ons Jabeur, the pride of Tunisian tennis, meets Russian Yulia Putintseva.

In girls’ doubles, Stephens and Timea Babos of Hungaria advanced to the finals against Belgian An-Sophie Mestach and Croatian Silvia Njiric. Regardless of the result, Stephens and Babos should probably register for a few more tournaments together; in their first two outings as a team, they won the French Open and Wimbledon.

17-year-old Jack Sock has punched his ticket to the junior semifinals. The unseeded American defeated No. 13 seed Victor Baluda of Russia on Friday, just a day after taking out No. 5 seed Damir Dzumhur.

Impressive, yes. But the argument can be made that these are ‘upsets’ in name only. After all, Sock won the 18s USTA National Championships last month, and reached the quarterfinals of the Orange Bowl last year. He already owns one pro title — the Amelia Island, Florida futures event — and took world No. 63 Marco Chiudinelli to four sets in a first round men’s match in the Open’s main draw.

However, Open junior seeding depends heavily on a players’ results in International Tennis Federation tournaments held around the world, and Sock has played only a handful in his life. The high school Senior travels sparingly, still lives at home in Lincoln, Nebraska — no hotbed of tennis, pro or otherwise — and still hasn’t decided whether to turn pro or go on to college next year.

He put together a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Baluda with the help of a 120-mph serve, occasionally stunning footspeed, and a forehand heavy enough to control play on the run and behind the baseline.

“Baluda was hitting flat, very deep, and he painted some lines today,” Sock said. “I had to cover some court.”

Next up for Sock is No. 2 seed Marton Fucsovics in the semifinals.

In the other semifinal, American Denis Kudla meets Agustin Velotti of Argentina.


16 year old Sloane Stephens wins, but Oudin loses!

American teenager Sloane Stephens won her first match at WTA Tour level at the tender age of 16 as she beat Lucie Hradecka to advance to the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Stephens had to fight for it but eventually beat the Czech 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (9-7) to go through.

But hers was a rare American success as Shenay Perry and Melanie Oudin made quick exits,

Perry lost 6-2 4-6 6-3 to Karolina Sprem, while Oudin went down 3-6 6-3 6-0 to Italian Roberta Vinci.

Also advancing were Carla Suarez Navarro, Yung-Jan Chan, Tsvetana Pironkova, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani, Petra Martic, Sybille Bammer, Alexandra Dulghera, Julia Goerges, Anastasija Sevastova and Julie Coin.


Sloane Stephens is trying to stay calm and confident.

stephens_190Sloane Stephens’s week at the United States Open has been as much about family as it has about tennis. In her second round juniors match on Wednesday, she fought through three difficult sets, prevailing over Maryna Zanevska of the Ukraine, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-2.

Sloane Stephens during her juniors match on Wednesday.Stephens said she drew strength from her mother, aunt and three uncles, who cheered her winners and told her “it’s okay” and to “keep fighting” when she made mistakes.

“It’s good to have them around,” she said after the match.

It hasn’t been an ordinary Grand Slam for the 16-year-old American, who battled deep into the French Open and Wimbledon juniors draws earlier this year and is seeded fourth here.

Last week, Stephens’s father died in a car accident. Yesterday, she attended his funeral in Louisiana.

She said it was good to see her nine brothers and sisters at the funeral, some of whom she met in person for the first time.

Between rounds, she has trouble deciding whether or not to play. “Off the court,” she said, “it’s rough.” But once she hits the tennis court, she just focuses on her match.

Stephens wears a heart-shaped necklace – a present from her grandfather. It bears the inscription, “In calmness and confidence.”

She says her grandfather didn’t have tennis in mind, but it pretty well sums up her game. When she was broken in the first set on Wednesday, she kept her composure. She used a combination of high bouncing topspin strokes and flat backhand winners to climb back and win the set in a tie-breaker. She conceded that she had a mental lapse in the second set, in which Zanevska was able to wrest control of their heavy groundstroke battles.

Coming out for the third set, Stephens said, she knew she was still in it and that she just needed to be more aggressive. Her face was a study in focus and ferocity as she lined up several thundering forehands and backhands to pull away.

With the rollercoaster win, she advanced to the third round, where she will face the 14th seed, Jana Cepelova of Slovakia.

Stephens smiled when asked about her uncles — her biggest cheerleaders. “They’re kind of hard to miss. They’re really loud.”


Sloane Stephens has a quandry to resolve.

stephensA500Until she was 13, Sloane Stephens knew far less about her father, John, than many football fans who remembered his blazing start as a running back with the New England Patriots and his later stints with the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs.

Sloane Stephens must decide whether to compete at the U.S. Open juniors competition.

Sloane Stephens’s father, John, a former Patriots star, died Tuesday.

Three years ago, the 16-year-old Stephens, a rising tennis star, embarked on a phone relationship with her father that evolved into a full-blown friendship, their bond forged by their similar charismatic personalities and prodigious athletic feats.

Stephens could only recall having met with her father in person twice, maybe three times, and now, two weeks after their last phone conversation, she has to decide whether to pay him one final visit.

On Tuesday, John Stephens, 43, died in a car accident in his native Louisiana. His funeral is there next Tuesday, two days after the start of the United States Open juniors competition, which leaves Stephens with an excruciating decision.

Does she drop out of the tournament or forgo saying her final goodbyes to her father and keep her eye on the first-place prize? Stephens, a mobile, attacking backcourt specialist, is considered a strong contender in singles after reaching the semifinals at the French Open juniors and the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon juniors.

To complicate matters, on Friday, while scouring the Internet for stories on the father she now will never fully know, Stephens discovered that her father had another side.

“I told her she’s free to do whatever she wants to do,” Stephens’s mother, Sybil Smith, who was divorced from Sloane’s father, said Friday afternoon. “I think right now she feels that the safest place for her is on the tennis court.”


2 future champions to watch in US Open qualifier draw.

laura robson 2_sloane

Players receiving US Open qualifying wild cards are: Kristie Ahn (17, Upper Saddle River, N.J.), USTA Girls’ 18s runner-up Lauren Embree (18, Marco Island, Fla.), Irina Falconi (19, Jupiter, Fla.), Nicole Gibbs (16, Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Asia Muhammad (18, Henderson, Nev.), Alison Riske (19, McMurray, Pa.), Laura Robson (15, Great Britain), Sloane Stephens (16, San Pedro, Calif.) and reigning US Open girls’ singles champion Coco Vandeweghe (17, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.).


Sloane Stephens and Alex Domijan on winning streaks!



In a continuation of this week’s theme at the Dunlop Orange Bowl, Americans maintained their authority on Friday, as they swept all four Girls’ 18s semifinals spots, and took two of the Boys’ 18s spots. Americans also swept all four spots in the Boys’ and Girls’ 16s finals, the first time that’s happened since 1970. While many of the matches lacked the drama of previous days, there was no shortage of    intensity or excitement as the tournament winds toward its final weekend.

The Girls’ 18s draw has been controlled by the American wild cards and Friday was no different, as three wild cards reached the semifinals. They were led by 15-year-old Sloane Stephens of Lauderhill, Fla., who delivered an utterly dominating performance in upsetting No. 1 seed Ana Bogdan of Romania, 6-0, 6-0. Stephens used her groundstrokes to run Bogdan all over the court, forced the top seed into numerous unforced errors.

“I’m pretty surprised myself,” said Stephens, when asked how she was able to defeat Bogdan so handily. “I was just really focused today, and I felt good out there. I just wanted to hit my shots and control the pace of play, and before I knew it, the match was over!”

She’ll face 16-year-old wild card Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., with whom she partnered in doubles at this event. McHale outlasted Russian 14-year-old Daria Gavrilova, 6-4, 6-2, in a matchup of two players who were seemingly able to track down every ball. While McHale and Stephens have never faced each other in ITF competition, the two know each other’s games very well, having been teammates on the U.S. Junior Fed Cup team, which won the title in September.

The draw’s other half featured the lone three-setter of the day, as No. 11 Lauren Embree, a 17-year-old from Marco Island, Fla., survived a topsy-turvy match against No. 4 Alja Tomljanovic of Croatia, 6-0, 3-6, 6-2. After rolling through the first set, it looked as if Embree would run away with the match. But Tomljanovic fought back, and broke Embree early in the second set. She held the momentum into the third set, quickly going up a break at 2-0. But the resilient Embree roared back, ripping off the next six games to take the set and the match.

Embree will face wild card Julia Boserup, a 17-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., who’s been riddled with injuries this year but is finally healthy and playing up to her rock-solid potential. Boserup, an incredibly powerful baseliner, was simply too much for No. 14 Beatrice Capra of Ellicott City, Md., to handle on this day, winning 7-5, 6-0.

This year marks the first time that four Americans have reached the semifinals in the Girls’ 18s draw in over 30 years, and assures the U.S. of having a Girls’ 18s winner for the first time since Jessica Kirkland in 2004. Four Americans reached the semifinals in the Boys’ 18s draw in 2004.

Speaking of the Boys’ 18s draw, the U.S. is assured of having a finalist in that draw for the first time since 2004, as well, as both Alex Domijan and Jarmere Jenkins won their quarterfinal matches and will face each other in one of tomorrow’s semifinals.

Domijan, 17-year-old from Wesley Chapel, Fla., didn’t lose any momentum from yesterday’s incredible upset of ITF No. 1 junior Tsung-Hua Yang. Rather, the 6’6 player came back out on Friday and continued his dominant run through the draw, defeating Austria’s Nikolaus Moser, the No. 7 seed and currently the ITF’s No. 26 player, 6-2, 6-3. With the win, Domijan upped his ITF match winning streak to 15.

Jenkins, from College Park, Ga., is also playing some of the best tennis of his career right now. The 18-year-old, who’s currently No. 78 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, stormed past Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-1, 6-1. For Jenkins, who reached the semifinals here last year before he suffered from severe dehydration and needed to be hospitalized, this win was especially sweet.

“I feel really good out there,” Jenkins said, after the match. “And after what happened here last year, I’m really looking forward to coming out here and playing my best and hopefully playing my way into the final. But Alex is playing unbelievable tennis, so I’m really going to have to maintain focus and make him work for every single point.”

The other semifinal will see a matchup of highly ranked players, as No. 2 Yuki Bhambri of India will take on No. 4 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany. Bhambri wasted little effort in dispatching Frenchman Julien Obry, 6-2, 6-4, white Stebe, a US Open Boys’ quarterfinalist, was the lone international player to beat an American on this day, as he took down No. 6 Chase Buchanan of New Albany, Ohio, 6-2, 6-4.

The Boys’ 16s final will feature two opponents who are extremely familiar with each other. As expected, No. 1 Denis Kudla, a 16-year-old from Arlington, Va., rolled into the final on Friday, defeating Shane Vinsant a 15-year-old from Keller, Texas, 6-1, 6-2. Kudla continued his dominating run through the tournament using his skilled all-court game and superior speed to overpower his opponent.

He’ll face Mitchell Frank, a 16-year-old from Annandale, Va., who is the tournament’s No. 12 seed and currently No. 289 in the ITF World Junior rankings. Frank stunned on-lookers by upsetting No. 2 Raymond Sarmiento of Fontana, Calif., 6-4, 6-2. Kudla and Frank train together with coach Frank Salazar at the Junior Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., which was just named as one of the first two USTA Certified Regional Training Centers and will serve as an extension of the USTA Player Development program for talent identification and development in the Washington, D.C. area.

“I’m really just really excited,” said Frank afterwards. Asked about playing Kudla, Frank just smiled. “He’s playing such good tennis right now, so it’s gonna be a tough match. But I just have to come out and have fun, and I think whoever’s more ready to go will come out as the winner.”

The Girls’ 16s final will feature two youngsters from South Florida. No. 3 Madison Keys, a 13-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., overpowered No. 1 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada on Friday, 6-2, 6-3. Keys, who won the Girls’ 12s title at the Junior Orange Bowl last year, has yet to drop a set thus far and has looked absolutely dominant throughout the week. She’ll face 14-year-old Chanelle Van Nguyen of Miami, who also rolled to victory by defeating Giuliana Olmos of Fremont, Calif., 6-2, 6-3. For Van Nguyen, who’s ranked No. 426 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, it will be her first ever final in an ITF event.

The Boys’ and Girls’ 16s doubles finals were set on Friday as well. The aforementioned Kudla is partnering with Junior Ore of Gaithersburg, Md., and will go for the sweep against Ecuadorian No. 4 seeds Diego Acosta and Roberto Quiroz. In the Girls’ draw, No. 2 seeds Marianne Jodoin of Canada and Emi Mutaguchi of Japan will face Lauren Herring of Greenville, N.C., and Grace Min of Lawrenceville, Ga.

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