Main Draw play started today, Tuesday, April 29, in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, on the Har-Tru at Kiwi Club, with a smorgasbord of final round qualifying, first round main draw and first round doubles matches, as rain finally arrived by late afternoon, suspending play in the tournament’s first evening session.
The qualifiers were as follows:
Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) def. Natalie Pluskota (USA) 62 61
Dia Evtimova (BUL) def. Katerina Kramperova (CZE) 75 76(7)
Elise Mertens (BEL) def. Alexandra Stevenson (USA) 75 60
Samantha Crawford (USA) def. Ellie Halbauer (USA) 46 63 63
Eikeri has looked better and better each round of the tournament, and now moves through into the main draw to face face Julia Cohen. Evtimova’s hard fought win over Kramperova netted her a spot in the main draw against the sixth seed Grace Min, while Elise Mertens moves on to face Heidi El Tabakh of Canada and big-hitting Samantha Crawford advances to face the tournament’s top seed, Kiwi Marina Erakovic, scheduled for Wednesday’s evening session.
Taylor Townsend arrived on site today and spent the afternoon practicing with Asia Muhammad before the pair teamed up to roll past Chiara Scholl and Tamara Curovic 6-2 6-0, hardly breaking a sweat. If she’s not tired out from last week’s fine run to the title in Charlottesville, and a full plate of singles and doubles here, Taylor could be a serious contender the Audi Melbourne crown in both singles and doubles, though she’ll have a tough first rounder against the defending Indian Harbour Beach champ, Petra Rampre, in round 1 on Wednesday.
Speaking of Petra, as I was watching Taylor hitting with Asia, I turned to my left and saw Rampre standing next to me, also observing, so I congratulated her on last year’s title and wished her good luck.
First round main draw singles winners on Tuesday included:
(4)Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) def. Olga Puchkova (RUS) 64 62
(7)Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) def. Mayo Hibi (JPN) 62 64
(wc)Sanaz Marand (USA) def. Chieh-Yu Hsu (TPE) 46 62 62
In doubles, the Can-Am team of Heidi El Tabakh and Allie Kiick had plenty of support and fought gamely after dropping the first five games of their match against Americans Danielle Lao and Keri Wong, recovering to square the match at a set apiece 1-6 6-4, before falling in the breaker 10-5. “Allie Kat” and the stunning “Hi-D” had plenty of fun out there, though, cheered on by their host family and friends.
Doubles results from Tuesday:
(3)Cohen/Will (USA/USA) def. Harman/Hibi (USA/JPN) 62 26 10-7
Alves/Zlochova (BRA/SVK) def. (wc)Elie/Litvak (USA/USA) 36 60 10-7
(2)Muhammad/Townsend (USA/USA) def. Curovic/Scholl (SRB/USA) 62 60
Lao/Wong (USA/USA) d. El Tabakh/Kiick (CAN/USA) 61 46 10-5
Raindrops starting falling about the time the doubles matches were concluding, as thunderstorms started rolling in from the West, and the evening session, which was to have featured the first round singles match between Michelle Larcher de Brito and Ilona Kremen as well as a doubles match between Belaya/Woodson and Kuhlman/Porter, was suspended with the singles at a set apiece and Kuhlman/Porter up 3-0 in the first set in the doubles.
Some breaking news–Melanie Oudin has withdrawn from the tournament, replaced by lucky loser Ellie Halbauer, of the U.S., who lost a tough three setter to Sam Crawford in qualifying and who will play Ukranian Sofiya Kovalets in the first round.
Photos from Tuesday: https://www.flickr.com/photos/28300821@N05/sets/72157644423562521/