The first day of play of the 2019-2020 Oracle Challenger Series took place under gloomy New Haven skies, as a heavy dose of rainfall shortened the amount of on-court action able to take place at the Yale Tennis Center. Nonetheless, several exciting first round matchups greeted fans during the first day of tournament play in New Haven. Let’s dive in.
In the tournament’s first matchup on Court 1, Oracle Challenger Series veteran Jaime Loeb beat fellow American compatriot Samantha Martinelli in a thrilling back-and-forth affair. Martinelli, a sophomore on the Yale University Women’s Tennis team, burst out of the gates by taking the opening set 6-2. Unfortunately for her, Loeb was able to regain her composure and take the match’s final two sets on her way to an eventual 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 triumph. Loeb, an Oracle US Tennis Award Recipient, will next meet No. 6 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Over on Court 3, Oracle Challenger Series stalwart Nicole Gibbs made a strong first impression to begin her play in the 2019-2020 Series, downing fellow American Jennifer Elie 6-3, 6-2. For Gibbs, the victory is another example of the incredible resilience she has displayed since facing and beating a rare form of oral cancer earlier this year. Not only has she returned to form quicker than most thought possible, she recently took a set off 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep during the first round of the US Open. Safe to say we’ll be keeping a close eye on Gibbs throughout the week here in New Haven, as she looks to win her first Oracle Challenger Series event. She meets No. 14 seed Whitney Osuigwe next.
On the men’s side, another American and Oracle Challenger Series veteran staked his claim with an impressive opening round victory. Two-time Series semifinalist and 2019 Road to Indian Wells wild card recipient Donald Young took down Canadian Filip Peliwo 6-3, 6-4. The American showcased his signature on-court style, saving 92% (12/13) of break points along with serving up seven aces. Next up, he meets No. 8 seed Denis Istomin.
Joining Young in the second round of the men’s draw in New Haven is fellow American Noah Rubin, who triumphed over Ecuador’s Roberto Quiroz 7-6(3), 6-4. Rubin, who has participated in prior Oracle Challenger Series events in Indian Wells, Newport Beach and Chicago, will next meet No. 10 seed Enzo Couacaud.
Later on Court 3, Japan’s Mayo Hibi took down Australia’s Lizette Cabrera in straight sets 6-4, 7-5. Hibi is well-acquainted with the Oracle Challenger Series as a two-time Newport Beach participant and will next meet No. 7 seed Anna Blinkova in the second round of play in New Haven.
Usue Maitane Arconada joins the list of day one winners after eliminating Australia’s Naomi Broady 6-3, 6-0, securing her spot in the second round. The American and Oracle Challenger Series stalwart will face off next against tournament No. 4 seed Tatjana Maria.
On the men’s side, American Ryan Shane defeated wild card Aleksandar Kovacevic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to become the first man to advance to the second round in New Haven. Under dark skies and the ever-present threat of rain, Shane needed just 70 minutes to take care of business. The 2015 NCAA Men’s Singles Champion at the University of Virginia, Shane will take on No. 13 seed Mitchell Krueger in the second round.
While the New Haven faithful surely had high hopes for Yale University Men’s Tennis Senior Dylan King, the collegiate standout was unable to get past Petros Chrysochos. The Cypriot advanced to the second round by way of an impressive 6-2, 6-2 victory.