My next tournament was in Rancho Santa Fe, CA which is just outside of San Diego. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay with a lovely couple close to the club. It was very convenient, and I was excited to learn that they were animal lovers. They had a cat, two dogs, two rabbits, two ponies and two baby goats at their house. When I wasn’t at the tennis courts, I could be found playing with the animals. It felt like I was staying at a zoo, and I loved every minute of it. There were great animals, and even better company.
Sorry I got a bit sidetracked, so back to the tennis. I received a wild card into the main draw for singles because I wasn’t able to play qualifying for singles. Singles qualifying started on Sunday but I was still playing the doubles final in Arizona on Sunday. I ended up having a couple days to practice and get ready for matches to start.
On Tuesday, I had doubles against Americans Jamie Loeb and Ashley Weinhold. My doubles partner for this week was CiCi Bellis, who is a young American that has been doing well in the pro tournaments already. She was in the singles final of the tournament in Surprise. Our game styles match up pretty well on the doubles court since she pounds balls from the baseline, which makes it easier for me to poach at the net. We played very well right from the start and took the first set 6-1. In the second we hit a little rough patch where we lost a couple deuce points and went down 4-2, but we ended up rolling off 4 games to take the second set 6-4.
The next day I took to the singles court against my doubles partner. It just happened to be the luck of the draw. I started off serving great and getting a lot of errors from CiCi, which allowed me to go up 4-1. From there CiCi played much better and I made a lot of loose mistakes so I lost the set 6-4. In the second, I started off down 2-0 as well before I started finding my game again. I began to hit big shots from the baseline and was right in the match, but it was a bit too late. I lost the second set 6-4. It was a tough match and I definitely had my chances.
On Thursday I had doubles again with CiCi, but this time against Danielle, my doubles partner from last week. Danielle Lao was partnering with Kaitlyn Christian who also played for USC. Christian won an NCAA doubles title, and has great volleys and hands to show for it. CiCi and I started off well and were up 5-3, but we ended up having to play a tiebreak to decide the set. Christian had been struggling with her serve, so she ended up serving underhand for half of the match. We took the tiebreak 7-1. The second set went more smoothly since we maintained our lead the whole time, taking the set 6-4. I was happy that we won, but it was tough playing close friends of mine.
We were into the quarterfinals on Friday where we were to face the number one seeds Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend. I knew both of them well since they’re also Americans and I’ve played them many times. Townsend is a tough lefty with great volley skills and Muhammad is a big tall girl with a big serve and groundstrokes. I knew they were going to be a tough and they came out on fire. Both of them were closing on the net hard so we lost the first set 6-1. In the second set we fought back and ended up having the early break and having chances to go up 3-1 to solidify our break. We missed a couple of easy balls while they stayed solid in the second. We lost the second set 6-3 so the tournament was then over for us. Luckily I still had the Indian Wells prequalifying to look forward to in a couple days.
The prequalifying for Indian Wells consisted of a 128 draw in which the winner received a wild card into the qualifying. There were many good players, and there were a couple in the top 200. I was seeded 8th based off of current WTA ranking. I had a bye in the first round so I started in the round of 64. In my first match I played Amy Zhu who played for University of Michigan. The courts at Indian Wells are tough to play on for me since they are very slow. It makes it difficult to put balls away. I didn’t play very well, but my serve kept me ahead in the match the whole time to take it 6-3, 7-5.
The following day I had two matches. I started off playing Whitney Turley who seemed to just be a high school player. I beat her 6-0, 6-1. Later in the afternoon I returned to take on Megan McCray, who I had beaten in doubles in Surprise. She hit everything as hard as she could so the match was up and down. I won the first set easily 6-2. In the second I started off well but she came up with some good shots so the set stayed close. I served very well which helped me take the second 7-5.
At this point I was in the quarterfinals and was to take on Florida Gator, Lauren Embree. We have played each other many times throughout the juniors, college and on the pro circuit. Our previous few meetings I had come out victorious, so I felt good going into the match. Once we started playing, I felt a bit off. I was spraying balls to either side, which was frustrating. Embree makes you hit a lot of balls and you’re constantly having to make that extra ball. That day I was really struggling to make those extra balls so I went down 6-2, 6-2. It was a rough loss, but at least I have time to train before going to my next tournament in Mexico. I definitely need some time to regroup and work on my game to get sharp. The last few weeks were draining since I lost some very tough singles matches.