A warm, overcast day quickly transitioned to a chilly, rainy and windy evening that forced play to be suspended until tomorrow. But before the front moved in, both men’s and women’s action thrilled the crowds on hand at Rice University.
The men began play today, with eight main draw matches finishing before the rain came. Americans Govind Nanda and Raymond Sarmiento represented for the red, white and blue on Veteran’s Day, earning wins over fellow countrymen Oliver Crawford and Evan King, respectively.
Other Americans did not fare as well, with wildcard Zane Khan falling to Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, UCLA grad Evan Zhu knocked out by Gonzalo Escobar and Alexander Ritschard taken down by Peter Heller – each in straight sets. The matches between Nick Chappell (USA)/Sebastian Fanselow (GER) and Gage Brymer (USA)/Colin Altamirano (USA) were suspended and will resume tomorrow.
Tuesday will see more opportunities for the USA to advance, however, with twelve in action. Among those is Rice University Owl Sumit Sarkar, whose match against Daniel Nguyen was moved from Monday’s evening session.
On the women’s side, some of the game’s biggest stars were successful in their first round matches. Qualifier CiCi Bellis, who is making her return to tennis after an 18-month layoff and multiple wrist surgeries, won her match over the hard-hitting Aussie Ellen Perez on Court 1. Following her match was former World No.5 and fan-favorite Eugenie Bouchard. After an injury-marred season, the Canadian superstar snapped a 13-match losing streak with a hard-fought win over Valentini Grammatikopoulou.
On Court 2, another former Top 10 player returning from injury made a statement, as American CoCo Vandeweghe blew past wildcard Linda Huang, a Rice University Owl. Vandeweghe was in fine form, hitting her trademark big serves and punishing groundstrokes that put her opponent on her heels the entire match.
Young American Hailey Baptiste also successfully advanced to the second round with an emphatic 6-2, 6-4 win over Bulgarian Elitsa Kostova, as did compatriot Hanna Chang, who notched a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory against Brazil’s Gabriela Ce.
Two matches featuring other Americans were suspended until Tuesday, with Bethanie Mattek-Sands up a set on countrywoman Danielle Lao, and Jamie Loeb down a set but tied 5-5 in the second against Hungary’s Dalma Galfi.
Play begins at 11am Tuesday on all courts, with stars like Vandeweghe, Bouchard and Bellis in their second matches and others including Ivo Karlovic and Mitchell Krueger hitting their first serves at the 2019 Oracle Challenger Series Houston.