Night falls on young tennis talent

CARLSBAD – Escondido resident Zoe Scandalis, 17, and recent San Pasqual High School grad advanced into her first ever WTA main draw tournament after winning both qualifying matches July 30 and July 31.
But the hometown favorite’s tournament run came to an end Monday night, when she fell in straight sets to 19-year-old Christina McHale of New Jersey.
The match, which immediately followed the win by another local favorite CoCo Vandweghe on the stadium court at La Costa, took only 49 minutes with McHale winning 6-0, 6-0.
It was a party-type atmosphere for Zoe amidst chants of “Let’s go Zo!” from her friends, family and “Team Scandalis” fans.
This was only the second time that she has played in a qualifying match, the first being the Pilot Pen tournament last year in New Haven, Conn.
“I played this type of event one other time and I was extremely nervous and I made my nerves be a bigger part of the match than my excitement, and this time I was just so ridiculously excited,” she said.
Scandalis, who is ranked No. 950 by the WTA, earned the wild card invitation spot into the qualifying matches after winning an opportunity tournament in Laguna Niguel. She said prior to the Open tournament that she was more confident in her game and was ready to show the players what she could do – and she did so in both of her matches over the weekend, beating Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei 7-5, 6-1 on Saturday and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Sunday.
But under the lights of the stadium court, Scandalis appeared overmatched when entering the court against McHale who is ranked No. 65. Her serves reached a high of 109 mph, though she wasn’t able to control it well enough to do any damage.
Scandalis has been playing professional tennis since she was 14, and has gradually competed in more and more tournaments.
In the fall, Scandalis will be attending the University of Southern California on a full tennis scholarship. She’s excited about the idea of playing for the Trojans and said the match play format will only help her build her professional tennis career.
Scandalis said she hopes to play the U.S. Open in the future and, one day, to compete in Wimbledon’s Arthur Ashe stadium.

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