Two-time Midland champion Laura Granville
© Getty Images
No. 2 seed Vania King
© Getty Images
By Joshua Rey, special to USTA.com
MIDLAND, Mich. – The “Best Tennis Town” in America will welcome its best tournament field ever when main-draw matches begin Tuesday at the 22nd Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Tennis-mad Midland was named the country’s most passionate tennis community at the 2009 US Open and has since been awarded the only $100,000 tournament on the women's USTA Pro Circuit.
Pros from 16 countries will compete in the 32-woman singles draw, vying for the champion’s prize of $15,200 and 140 ranking points on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Among this week’s participants are nine former top-50 players and eight women who represented their nations last week in Fed Cup competition.
Two-time singles champion Laura Granville, No. 2 seed Vania King, 17-year-old wild card Heather Watson and former world No. 7 Nicole Vaidisova ushered in the event by meeting with media and fans Monday at the Great Hall Banquet Center.
Granville’s return to Midland is two years in the making after the 28-year-old American experienced the highs and lows of tennis here in 2008 – both in the same match. Playing Ashley Harkleroad in the singles final, Granville injured her left wrist before winning the title, 6-1, 6-1. She went on to miss the next 13 months on tour, including a chance to defend her Dow Corning title.
The Chicago-native is happy to continue her comeback in the Midwest.
“It’s one of my favorite tournaments of the year,” said Granville, who is 21-5 lifetime in Midland. “I’ve stayed with the same family every year, so it’s great coming back. I just love that everyone involved in the tournament and the volunteers are so supportive. I feel like the town comes out and enjoys the tennis. I’m glad that it’s a $100,000 [event] this year because this tournament deserves it.”
Granville’s countrywoman King is the fourth-ranked American on tour behind Serena and Venus Williams and Melanie Oudin. Still just 21 herself, King is joined in Midland by a new wave of American talent, including teens Madison Brengle, Courtney Dolehide and Jacqueline Cako.
“The depth of American tennis is improving,” said King. “There are a lot of young players at this tournament who are exciting to watch. I’m 21, so I guess I’m old now.”
Watson and Vaidisova are also members of the youth movement in action this week. Like Midland, Watson burst onto the international tennis scene at the 2009 US Open, winning the junior girls’ singles title. The Dow Corning Tennis Classic will mark the 11th pro tournament of her career.
“I want to go out there and have fun but stay focused and do the best I can do,” said Watson. “I don’t want to have any regrets. I’ll get the experience, learn from this and use it to my benefit in the future.”
Vaidisova was playing just her second pro event when she reached the 2004 Midland final as a 14-year-old wild card. Now 20, the Czech is hoping to rebuild the confidence she showed in reaching the semifinals of the 2006 French Open and 2007 Australian Open.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Vaidisova, ranked 192nd after struggles with recurring right wrist problems. “I started off here and slowly climbed the rankings… and then I had some injuries. I think every player goes up and down – they play great; they play bad. I want to play long enough to have an impressive career.”
First-round play begins Tuesday with four doubles and five singles matches, highlighted by 2009 runner-up Eleni Daniilidou taking on No. 7 seed Monica Niculescu at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court. Following that match, Americans Christina Fusano and Courtney Nagle will team up against the unique pairing of Granville and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.
Seeded first in doubles, Granville and Hradecka have won the last two Midland singles championships. Hradecka arrives in Midland after making an impressive Fed Cup debut Sunday, leading the Czechs into the semifinals by defeating Germany in both singles and doubles.
Also playing doubles Tuesday are wild cards and Dow High teammates Kelli Close and Daniella Patton. They play Maureen Drake of Canada and Petra Rampre of Slovenia, not before 3 p.m.
Before the main draw commences, the qualifying competition with conclude Tuesday at 10 a.m., as four women try to win their way into the Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Another American and Canadian will be added to the field, as U.S. teens Beatrice Capra and Chieh-Yu Hsu play each other on Stadium Court, while the 38-year-old Drake plays her compatriot, 18-year-old Katarena Paliivets, on Court 3.
Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Daniilidou vs. Niculescu and Granville/Hradecka vs. Fusano/Nagle cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Dow Corning Tennis Classic
Midland Community Tennis Center
Monday, February 8 – RESULTS:
Qualifying Singles – Second round
(1) Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, def. Emily Gelber, United States, 6-3, 6-1
(5) Teodora Mircic, Serbia, def. Courtney Nagle, United States, 6-2, 6-4
(2) Naomi Broady, Great Britain, def. April Bisharat, United States, 6-1, 3-1 ret.
Yana Koroleva, Russia, def. (6) Tamaryn Hendler, Belgium, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
Katarena Paliivets, Canada, def. Jordaan Sanford, United States, 7-5, 6-1
Maureen Drake, Canada, def. (7) Anna Livadaru, Germany, 6-1, 6-2
Beatrice Capra, United States, def. (4) Petra Rampre, Slovenia, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2
Tuesday, February 9 – SCHEDULE:
Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.
Qualifying - Beatrice Capra, United States, vs. (8) Chieh-Yu Hsu, United States
Valerie Tetreault, Canada, vs. WC-Jamie Hampton, United States
Rebecca Marino, Canada, vs. Angela Haynes, United States
Stadium Court – not before 3 p.m.
WC-Kelli Close and Daniella Patton, United States, vs. Maureen Drake, Canada, and Petra Rampre, Slovenia
Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.
(7) Monica Niculescu, Romania, vs. Eleni Daniilidou, Greece
(1) Laura Granville, United States, and Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic vs. Christina Fusano and Courtney Nagle, United States
Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.
Qualifying - Katarena Paliivets, Canada, vs. Maureen Drake, Canada
Qualifying – (1) Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, vs. (5) Teodora Mircic, Serbia
Monique Adamczak, Australia, and Megan Moulton-Levy, United States, vs. Katie O’Brien, Great Britain, and Arantxa Rus, The Netherlands
Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson, Great Britain, vs. (4) Lilia Osterloh, United States, and Anna Tatishvili, Georgia
Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.
Qualifying – (2) Naomi Broady, Great Britain, vs. Yana Koroleva, Russia
Anna Tatishvili, Georgia, vs. WC-Courtney Dolehide, United States
Yulia Fedossova, France, vs. Kathrin Woerle, Germany
Ten teens win as qualifying begins