Unlike the men, who saw the No.1, No.2 and No.3 seeds upset in the third round of the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach presented by RBC Wealth Management, the top four women’s seeds all advanced through to Friday’s quarterfinals.
No. 1 seed Jessica Pegula had the toughest test of the day, battling through an inspired Dalma Galfi 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Taylor Townsend, the No.2 seed, did not have as much trouble in a relatively straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina. The American faced five break points in the first set and saved them all with fantastic serving and first-strike tennis.
“I fought,” said Townsend. “I had a lot of break points against me, but it gave me confidence to just keep swinging. I wasn’t playing my best so it was one of those days where you have to just fight.”
Kalinina, the No.14 seed, was battling as well, hitting penetrating groundstrokes to force Townsend out of position.
“I’ve played her before,” reflected Townsend. “She’s really strong off the baseline and has a really good backhand, so she can redirect it anywhere on the court and use the angles. I was expecting that.”
No.3 seed Christina McHale also advanced in straight sets, albeit in a difficult tussle with former NCAA No.1 Sophia Whittle. The Gonzaga Bulldog gave McHale everything she had, but the experience of the former World No.24 won out 6-4, 6-3.
“It was a tough match,” said McHale. “I thought Sophia was playing really well, her backhand down the line was working really well for her today. But once I got better depth on my ball and started serving better, I was able to get the advantage.”
Whittle received a wild card into this week’s Oracle Challenger Series, and as a new face to the tour, provides an interesting challenge for opponents.
“I saw her play at a tournament last year. But she was the No.1 college player, so going in, I knew she was going to be a good player. I just hadn’t seen her play as much. It’s always tough when you don’t know much about the opponent, but I definitely picked up on a few things in the first couple of games. She competes really well, so it was a battle to the last point.”
Rounding out the top 4’s success was Tatjana Maria, who advanced at the expense of American fan-favorite Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-4.
Quarterfinals for both men and women take place on Friday, with mouth-watering matchups on tap at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.