TEMPLETON, September 26, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
The last time many of us saw Lauren Davis play a match, she was locked in a record-setting three-hour, 45-minute marathon match against the world’s No. 1-ranked player Simona Halep in the third round of the Australian Open in a nationally televised match on ESPN.
The 24-year-old Davis held match points in that match, eventually falling 15-13 in a match that tied the Australian Open record for most games played. Having started the year ranked No. 48 in the WTA World Tour rankings, Davis has since fallen to No. 207 and wants nothing more to end her year with several big wins on the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger level and another shot at playing Down Under again in January.
On Tuesday in the first round of the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open being played at the Templeton Tennis Ranch, the Ohio-native Davis needed a little more than three hours to beat fellow American Vicky Duval, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
“I knew Vicky was a grinder and makes a lot of balls,” said Davis, who had beaten the 22-year-old Duval on tour two other times but hadn’t played her in four years. “I just tried to stay aggressive and play my game. Vicky picked up her game in the second set.”
Davis, who has made more than $2.3 million in prize money during the course of her career, said she’s just enjoying being out there playing. “It’s a process, and I’m young,” she said. “So I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’ve burned out in the past and I’ve learned my lesson on how to do things differently this time.”
In 2017, Davis peaked at No. 26 in the world in May after reaching her third quarterfinal of the year at the WTA event in Rabat, Morocco. She also reached the quarterfinals in Qatar and Dubai in February and reached the fourth round in Indian Wells.
Also posting straight-set wins on Tuesday in the first round was No. 2-seed Madison Brengle, No. 4 Jessica Pegula and 2014 US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, the tournament’s No. 7 seed.
In a first-round matchup of two wild cards, 18-year Pennsylvania resident Ann Li beat the local favorite Sophia Whittle of Nipomo, Calif., 6-4, 6-2. The former Arroyo Grande High star is in her senior year at Gonzaga University, and last year at this event won her first WTA ranking point shocking the tournament’s No. 3 seed in the first round.
In final-round qualifying matches, three former college All-Americans advanced to the main draw as Giuliana Olmos (USC), Maegan Manasse (UC-Berkeley) and top-seeded Robin Anderson (UCLA) all won coveted spots in the main draw.
In a first-round match on Wednesday evening not before 6 p.m., former Junior Grand Slam champions, top-seeded Taylor Townsend will play former US Open Junior Girls’ singles winner Kayla Day of Santa Barbara. Following that is an intriguing doubles matchup of local players. Last year’s tandem of Whittle and Delanie Dunkle of Arroyo Grande will oppose each other with Whittle playing with Dominique Schaefer and Dunkle with Christine Maddox.