By Editorial Team
Whitney Osuigwe is having an amazing rookie year on the WTA Pro Circuit as she blazed through the competition going from 1120 to a 309 pro ranking in a 12 month span all at the young age of 16 despite the WTA rules set on the number of pro events she enters. Currently WTA Tour players are not allowed to compete in a full schedule of professional level tournaments until attaining age 18.
After dominating the juniors with 2017 French Open title and number 1 world ITF ranking Whitney did not get caught up in the hype, but rather went to work with her coach and Dad Desmond 6 days a week to prepare for the 2018 pro circuit. Since dabbling into the pros competing in the smaller $10k and $15k events at age 15, Whitney has built a strong base for her game making her climb to the top this year more expected than spectacular.
2017 US Open qualifying rounds and 2018 Miami Open main draw matches have done wonders for the young talent from Bradenton, Florida (IMG). With multiple deep runs in $25ks and $60ks, Whitney has saved her best result in this week’s $80k in Tyler, Texas where she defeated top 300 talent Sophie Chang 6-3 in the third set and next fended off Kurumi Nara (ranked 162) 6-2 in the third set to reach the quarterfinal round to now face fellow American Caty McNally.
Caty McNally, a top world ranked junior and sought after doubles partner, has also been on a tear in Texas this week as she was able to side step 128th ranked and 3rd seeded Fanni Stollar (upset in 1st round) to dominate Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-2, 6-1.
The match up between Whitney and Caty is even at 1 all, but Whitney should have the edge although Caty was able to squeak out on win over Whitney 7-6, 6-3 in the 2018 Junior International Roehampton semifinal match. Whitney took the initial match up in the 2017 Paris at Roland Garros Junior French Open quarterfinal 6-3, 6-3 where Whitney went on to win the title.
They keys for Whitney are court positioning and isolating the weaker backhand side of Caty in longer rallies. Whitney’s big weapon is her forehand and she plans on opening up the court often enough to bang her loaded forehand to Caty’s neutral backhand to end points quickly.
With a win here against one of her best friends on tour, Whitney will advance to the semifinals to face either Bencic or Day and come closer to stepping into the top 250 in her first full year of professional tour competition.
Whitney is definitely on the progression to attain top 200 status next year and begin to make appearances in major WTA International, Premier and Grand Slam events. Expect great things from Whitney in 2019 and maybe her first WTA title win as she continues to shred pro tournament draws in a city near you.
Muhammad Wins Hometown Event With Sanchez to Take 30th Career Pro Doubles Title
SUMMERLIN, Nev. (Nov. 11, 2018) – In the doubles final, Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez improved their record to 21-1 on the year as they beat fellow American’s Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller, 6-3, 6-4, to win the doubles title. While longtime partners Chang and Mueller end their year, Muhammad and Sanchez will look to end their year on a high note in Houston.
Asia, who reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2016 US Open, has now won 30 career pro doubles titles, three coming on the WTA Tour and 27 now on the USTA Pro Circuit. She learned to play tennis at the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas. Sanchez won her 21st doubles title on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Asia was the crowd favorite all week and said she enjoys coming back to play her local event each year. “We travel all over the world and see some amazing things, but to come back here and play in front of so many familiar faces is special,” she said.
Tournament director Mike Copenhaver said this was an historic year for the Red Rock Pro Open. “With it being the 10th anniversary, and part of the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, marquee night matches and our matches televised all week by Tennis Channel, it’s one that was written for the record books!”
This week Asia will be competing in Houston, Texas at the Oracle Challenger Series where top US players are competing for a main draw wildcard.
Osuigwe joins Watson, Muhammad and King in Houston Oracle Challenge
By Editorial Team
On the heels of a $80k title win in Tyler, Texas, Whitney Osuigwe remains on the hunt for more upset wins in Houston this week. She was able to qualify for the main draw comfortably with a decisive win today over Réka LucaJani 6-3, 6-4 and now faces 199th ranked Naomi Broady of Great Britain in the 1st round. Whitney has made a huge leap into the top 250 after a string of great wins, but she is not slowing down as she aims to manufacture more wins with her steady play and mental toughness.
Watson and Muhammad are also aiming to have a good showing after facing major headwinds in Las Vegas last week with early round losses. The stakes are high for both players as they compete to finish the year within the top 100. Heather is right on the cusp of the top 100, but she will have to work overtime in Houston to reach her goals.
On the men’s side, Darian King will compete to get in his groove found last year (reached the round of 64 in main draw of 2017 BNP Open) to possibly qualify for an opportunity to play in next year’s 2019 BNP Open Qualifying Draw. A main draw wildcard goes to the highest finisher of the 5 tournament Challenger Series events. Darian may be out of contention for the main draw, but no fight is lacking for this talented 26 year old from Barbados. Opportunity is sure to find Darian as he continues to perfect his athletic style of play.
Match play begins tomorrow, click here to view the draws and order of play.
Match Preview: Tiafoe vs. Tsitsipas
By Jason Barron
Frances Tiafoe will look to play well in the year-end ATP Next Gen Finals tournament in Milan. Tiafoe is part of a field of 8 players who are all 21 years or younger. For any young player on the tour it is their goal to make the Next Gen Finals.
The tournament is played under special rules with each set played up to 4 games instead of 6 and if the set is tied at 3-3, then they play a tiebreak to decide it. It makes for quicker matches and the players really have be on their game to start because there will be less chances to make a comeback.
In Tiafoe’s first match he beat Polish player Hubert Hurkacz in 4 sets 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3 (12-10). Tiafoe started the match out with strong serving and quick ball striking. Hurkacz did make a comeback in the 3rd and 4th set, but Tiafoe was able to hold his nerve and outlast his opponent in the deciding tiebreak. Tiafoe will have his work cut out for him in his next match against the 15th ranked player and tournament favorite, the Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas. They have played once before with Tsitsipas winning in straight sets in 2017.
Tiafoe will need to serve well and make Tsitsipas come to the net to make him uncomfortable. Tiafoe can’t get into too many long baseline exchanges because that is playing to Tsitsipas’ strengths who utilizes strong groundstrokes to win points. Tiafoe should look to put away points with clever backhands and be wary of the Tsitsipas’ serves because he can be tough to break when getting his first serves in.
Tiafoe has likely reached his own personal goal of making it to the Next Gen Finals. Next he will face his toughest test and history has shown that Tiafoe tends to struggle against taller players, standing at 6’2, while Tsitsipas is 6’4. After the Tsitsipas match, Tiafoe would play Spanish player, Jaume Munar the following day.
Tiafoe should beat the lower ranked Munar, but the real test will come against Tsitsipas, the youngest player in the ATP Top 20. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, November 7th. Stream the Next Gen Finals with Amazon Prime.
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