Thursday, March 7, 2013

Townsend Wins WTA Debut at BNP Paribas Open; Three US Boys in ITF Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl Quarterfinals; Junior Finalist Assured in Gainesville $10K

Sixteen-year-old wild card Taylor Townsend made her WTA debut today at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and although she admitted after the match that she was very nervous, Townsend came away with a 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 victory over Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.

Despite the nerves, Townsend started off well, taking a 3-1 lead in the opening set of the match, which opened the day's play on Stadium Court. She then lost five straight games, and with four doubles faults and a first serve percentage of 40, her prospects for a place in the second round looked dim.  Townsend went up a break in the second set, but lost that advantage, only to dominate in the tiebreaker.  In the third set, Townsend lost the opening game on her serve, but got the break right back, and broke the No. 57 ranked Hradecka for a 5-2 lead.  Although that was only one break, Townsend protected it, and served out the match to 15.

Interviewed on the  BNP Paribas radio coverage, which has been a fantastic addition to this year's tournament media, Townsend told the commentators that she had been working on a few small but keys things in the past few months. She said "learning how I play" was important, and sticking with the patterns throughout a match.

Asked what she saw as the difference from the juniors and the pros, Townsend didn't give the standard answer involving free points and mental toughness and experience, but rather said the pace of the play is what takes the most getting used to.

She'll see some of that pace next against former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, who is the No. 11 seed in the tournament. Townsend said she was just going to have fun, and with no expectations, wouldn't be as tight as she was in today's match.

She said she thought the nerves would be gone, and said (this quote may not be exact, as I couldn't record the interview) "I'm just going to laugh, have fun and if I hit it to the fence, I'll laugh again."

Townsend said she would like to reach the WTA Top 200 and is looking just to get matches on the ITF Women's circuit and mostly, the WTA level.

For more on Townsend's win, see the WTA website.

At the ITF Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay, three US boys have reached the quarterfinals: Stefan Kozlov(16), Spencer Papa(4) and Thai Kiwatkowski(2).  At the ITF Grade 1 in Thailand, unseeded Usue Arconada of the US has advanced to the quarterfinals in singles and the semifinals in doubles.

The only Pro Circuit event in the United States this week is the $10,000 women's tournament in Gainesville, Florida, with the quarterfinals set for Friday.  The bottom half features No. 3 seed Allie Kiick, 17, who plays 15-year-old wild card Mia Horvit, and unseeded 18-year-old Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, who plays 14-year-old wild card Maria Shishkina of Kazakhstan.  The top half, by contrast, is filled with veteran players.  The complete results can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.