Americans Shine on Day 1 of Qualifying
By: Nicholas McCarvel
American Grace Min played the role of spoiler Saturday afternoon in the first round of qualifying at the Volvo Car Open, beating local favorite and compatriot Shelby Rogers 7-6 (4), 6-2 in front of a packed house on Althea Gibson Court.
Min, 18, took down the Charleston resident in straight sets following a tight first-set tiebreaker. The two train together at the USTA training facility in Boca Raton, Fla.
"There are no surprises when we play each other - we're pretty closely matched," Rogers, 20, told the Volvo Car Open website after the loss. "It just depends on the day and who shows up to the court. We were neck and neck in the tiebreak and I made a couple of loose errors and gave her some momentum and it got away from me. Going into the second it was hard to shake the tiebreak knowing I was so close."
Despite the loss, the world No. 218 will stay in town for several days.
"I'll stick around a little bit and watch my friends play here, stay with my family a bit," said Rogers, who will try and enter the doubles draw. "I have my whole career ahead of me. I have to learn something from this match and move forward. That's the good thing about tennis: you always have another week."
There are several notable names who are still in contention this week, joining Min in the final round of qualifying. Americans Mallory Burdette, Jessica Pegula, Vania King and Louisa Chirico all notched wins, as did upcoming teen Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and the No. 1 and 3 seeds - and twin sisters - Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova.
While Karolina is the top seed, it's Kristyna who needed just 32 minutes in a 6-0, 6-1 effort over Chiara Scholl.
Qualifying continues Sunday with King challenging the top-ranked Pliskova for a spot in the main draw while Burdette takes on her compatriot Chirico, a 16-year-old Louisiana native.
While it was a loss for Rogers Saturday, there is nothing compared to eating home-cooked food and sleeping in her own bed while on the pro tour.
"It's priceless to have a tournament of this caliber to be near my home. Talking with the players on the tour this is everyone's favorite tournament aside from the Slams. It's really special for me."
As for the crowd support, Rogers couldn't be more thankful for it.
"Every year I come here I can always rely on people supporting me and cheering me on no matter how I play. They never give up on me, that's a really good feeling."