The Coast News Group

Tournament a big draw despite lack of deep American presence

With the professional tennis circuit having taken center court at La Costa Resort and Spa for the Mercury Insurance Open, much has been made of late on the lack of a strong U.S. presence in women’s tennis.
Nine American players were featured at the tournament, including Rancho Santa Fe resident and hometown favorite CoCo Vandeweghe. Three of the American players were eliminated in the first round, two in the second round and three in the third round. The only American still in the field in the fourth round was Sloane Stephens who ended up retiring her match to Bosnian Andrea Petkovic in the second set.
“Tennis is an international sport,” said Tournament Director Raquel Giscafre. “People in the USA are used to seeing many nationalities: Navratilova, Sharapova, Clijsters, Ivanovic and so on.”
It was Germany’s Sabine Lisicki who efficiently dispatched CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-3, in a third-round match that saw Lisicki serving hard and fast, and despite the fact that she admitted she wasn’t playing her best tennis.
“It’s never easy to play a hometown girl,” she said, but stressed that this wasn’t her first year on tour, nor was it the first time she had faced Vandeweghe — Lisicki had beaten her in their two previous matches, the first in 2008 in Miami and the second at the 2010 U.S. Open.
“The story of the match is I didn’t get any rallies going,” Vandeweghe said.
Serves for both players remained strong but Lisicki said she was able to read Vandeweghe’s serve pretty well during throughout the match — a byproduct of her experience playing against Vandeweghe.
“Both of us like to hit it big,” Vandeweghe said. “She was kind of trouncing my second serve…but when I hit the returns back, the rallies didn’t last very long. I wish I could’ve maybe moved my positioning around on the return or something to give myself a better opportunity to go for the points a lot more.”
For sure, the match
was a disappointment, Vandeweghe said. “I wanted to make it to quarters again; I like playing here, I like playing on these courts. I like playing…at home or at least my home country.”
Vandeweghe said she’ll continue to work on second serves and try harder to impose her game upon her opponents.
Attendance for the run of the tournament reached 30,025.
“The fact Americans are not in the top 10 does not impact tickets sales,” Giscafre said. “It will be great to have the next Capriati or the new Venus and Serena. It all happens in cycles, we will get there again. The USTA is investing lots of resources to get the new stars of U.S. tennis and they will be here in a blink.”
The tournament did see some young American talent in 17-year-old Escondido resident Zoe Scandalis, who received a wild card invitation to the MIO after winning an opportunity tournament in Laguna Niguel. She was beaten by fellow American Christina McHale in the first round of the main draw.
Rancho Santa Fe resident Gaby DeSimone also competed in the tournament’s wild card qualifying draw, losing in the first round to Japan’s Rika Fujiwara.