TEMPLETON, September 29, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
Three Americans have earned a spot in Saturday’s semifinal round at the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open, a USTA Pro Circuit $60,000 women’s event taking place at the Templeton Tennis Ranch.
Madison Brengle, Asia Muhammad, Grace Min, along with Bulgarian player Sesil Karatantcheva made it through the quarterfinals on Friday.
Southern California native Asia Muhammad, who advanced with a decisive 6-1, 6-3 victory over Amra Sadikovic, felt comfortable in the bright sun and gusty wind conditions. Standing tall at 5-foot-10 could ordinarily be a disadvantage in windy conditions, but she was unconcerned.
“I’m from Las Vegas so it gets way windier,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad used her height to cover the court, blasting powerful shots from the baseline before moving in to close points with high and wide volleys. Her comfort at the tournament extends off the court to the house of generous community members. “This week I’m by myself and it’s nice to be staying in housing, just having other people around you and staying with a family. It kind of feels like you’re at home.”
Grace Min defeated Serbian and Sacramento-based Jovana Jaksic after dropping the first set. The match took over three hours and ended with a final score of 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5. In terms of actual points played, Min won the close match by only 105 to 104.
Min was acutely aware of how close the match would be while playing, explaining later: “From the first point, we had so many competitive points, not that many freebies. It was just who was going to keep it together by a point in the end.”
Although she will barely have 24 hours rest before her semifinal, Min is able to see an upside to grinding through such a tough match: “You get more court time and the more court time you get, the more things you can figure out; the surface, the conditions, how you’re feeling.”
Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva had a wildly different experience, speeding to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Swiss sixth-seed Sofya Zhuk in just 49 minutes. She won with an athletic strategy, exhausting her opponent by running down every ball and forcing long rallies.
Ahead of meeting Min in the semifinal, she is glad to have played only such a short match. “It’s not so much you get tired physically, it’s more that they drain you mentally, especially at this sort of tournament where you play every day,” Karatantcheva said. “Here, to play a two hour and a half match, and then you have to play the next day, even if your body is fresh your mind is going to just be drained.”
Delaware native Madison Brengle enjoyed the dry conditions in her 6-3, 6-1 victory over fellow American Maria Sanchez. Brengle initially struggled to find her way into the match, but when she did it was with an 11 game winning streak.
After the first set, she put on sunglasses, which allowed her to adjust the serve to land further back in the box, pushing Sanchez back and allowing Brengle to control the points. Asked how she would prepare for her Saturday semifinal against Muhammad, Brengle did mention a cool down regimen, but was quick to pivot to some of the finer things the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open and surrounding area have to offer:
“Downtown the restaurants are so good!” Brengle said. “I’m really enjoying the food. In the morning I’ve been going to Spearhead Coffee. The coffee is good, the food is good, the wine is good, so I’m very happy. And I’m staying with a really nice family.”
In the semifinals of the doubles draw, first-seeded team of Muhammad and Maria Sanchez advanced with a 6-3, 6-2, [10-7] victory over Kristie Ahn and Giuliana Olmos. American Quinn Gleason and Brazilian Luisa Stefani defeated the fourth-seeded team of Indonesian Beatrice Gumulya and Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro, 6-3, 7-6 (3). The women’s doubles final will be contested on Sunday at 1 p.m., and played before the singles final unless Muhammad wins on Saturday in which case she would play in the singles final first followed by the doubles final.
Friday’s Quarterfinal Singles Scores
Sesil Karatantcheva, Bulgaria, def. Sofya Zhuk, Russia (6), 6-2, 6-0
Grace Min, U.S., def. Jovana Jaksic, Serbia, 3-6, 7-7 (3), 7-5
Asia Muhammad, U.S., def. Amra Sadikovic, Switzerland (q), 6-1, 6-3
Madison Brengle, U.S. (2), def. Maria Sanchez, U.S., 6-3, 6-1
Friday’s Semifinal Doubles Scores
Quinn Gleason, U.S.-Luisa Stefani, Brazil, def. Beatrice Gumulya, Indonesia-Ana Veselinovic, Montenegro (4), 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Asia Muhammad, U.S.-Maria Sanchez, U.S. (1) def. Kristie Ahn, U.S.-Giuliana Olmos, Mexico, 6-3, 6-2, [10-7]