TEMPLETON, September 27, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
Grace Min admits she’s rather play on her favorite surface of clay, but settled into the hardcourts just fine on Wednesday with a first-round win over qualifier Maegan Manasse at the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open, a $60,000 USTA Women’s Pro Circuit event taking place at the Templeton Tennis Ranch.
Min has split two matches against her second-round opponent Jessica Pegula already this year, with both three-set matches coming on clay.
“I’ve always felt at home playing on clay,” said Atlanta’s Min, age 24, who qualified for the French Open this year and called the Roland Garros tournament her favorite on tour. “I love playing on clay and I love going back to Paris each year.”
Back in June on the clay at Bethany Beach, Del., a $25,000-level Pro Circuit tournament, Min beat Pegula in the quarterfinals on the way to her 10th USTA Pro Circuit singles title, and first of 2018. She started the year strong by reaching the final at the $25,000 event in Daytona Beach, Fla., the first tournament of the 2018 season.
Min currently trains at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., and is ranked No. 248 on the WTA Tour.
It’s a long way from Paris, but Min is happy to return to Central Coast’s only professional tennis tournament for the second straight year. “I love it here,” Min said. “The weather is so nice and this is one of the best tournaments for housing. Everyone is just so nice. They all come out and are excited to watch us play and the scenery is gorgeous here and it’s just an overall great tournament.”
Also winning first-round matches Wednesday in their native California were Maria Sanchez and Asia Muhammad. Sanchez, a former USC star from Modesto, beat No. 5 seeded Kristie Ahn, dropping just two games, 6-0, 6-2, and former Southern Californian now from Las Vegas took out former USC All-American and last year’s Templeton doubles winner Giuliana Olmos, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
Muhammad is currently ranked in the world Top 100 in doubles and won her third WTA-level doubles title in Quebec City with Sanchez the week after the US Open. Muhammad and Sanchez are seeded No. 1 in Templeton this week in doubles.
“I was missing a lot in the second set and knew I had to come out strong and aggressive in the third set,” Muhammad said. “I think Gugu being a qualifier and have three matches here probably helped her. She’s really fit so I don’t think she ran out of gas.”
In the night match, top-seeded Taylor Townsend returned to Templeton victorious in a battle of lefties who have won US Open Junior Girls singles titles. Townsend, coached this week by longtime mentor Donald Young Sr., beat Santa Barbara’s Kayla Day, 6-1, 6-4.
Following that match and in a battle of wild cards, former Arroyo Grande High star and Gonzaga University senior Sophie Whittle opposed last year’s doubles partner, Arroyo Grande High senior Delanie Dunkle from just up the road in San Luis Obispo. Whittle and Dominique Schaefer took out Dunkle and Christine Maddox, 6-4, 6-2, in front of an enthusiastic Templeton Tennis Ranch crowd.
Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores
Maria Sanchez, U.S., def. Kristie Ahn, U.S (5), 6-0, 6-2
Grace Min, U.S., def. Maegan Manasse, U.S. (q), 6-3, 6-2
Jovana Jaksic, Serbia, def. Rebecca Marino, Canada, 6-3, 6-1
Sesil Karatantcheva, Bulgaria, def. Robin Anderson, U.S. (q), 6-2, 6-3
Asia Muhammad, U.S., def. Giuliana Olmos, U.S. (q), 6-3, 3-6, 6-0
Amra Sadikovic, Switzerland (q), def. Naomi Broady, Great Britain, 6-4, 6-4
Emina Bektas, U.S., def. Jamie Loeb, U.S. (8), 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (5)
Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway, def. Maria Mateas, U.S., 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5)
Taylor Townsend, U.S., (1) def. Kayla Day, U.S., 6-1, 6-4
Sofya Zhuk, Russia (6), def. Nadia Podoroska, Argentina, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
Wednesday’s First-Round Doubles Scores
Dominique Schaefer, Peru-Sophie Whittle, U.S. (wc), def. Delanie Dunkle, U.S.-Christine Maddox, U.S., (wc), 6-4, 6-2
Beatrice Gumulya, Indonesia-Ana Veselinovic, Montenegro (4), def. Paula Cristina Goncalves (Brazil)-Sanaz Marand, U.S., 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)
Quinn Gleason, U.S.-Luisa Stefani, Brazil, def. Kai-Chen Chang, Taipei, def. Ching-Wen Hsu, Taipei, 1-2, ret.
Madison Brengle, U.S.-Jessica Pegula, U.S. (2) def. Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway-Ashley Kratzer, U.S., 6-0, 6-1