Irina Falconi teamed with Coco Vandeweghe to knock out doubles top-seeds Alexa Glatch and Melanie Oudin.
© Andrew Ong/USTA
By Allison Moore, special to USTA.com
OSPREY, Fla. – No. 6-seeded American Irina Falconi was put to the test by fellow American and 2011 US Open girls’ champion Grace Min during first-round play Wednesday at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Event at the Oaks Club. In the end, Falconi defeated qualifier Min, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
"I thought Grace played incredibly well. She’s improved so much from 2011," Falconi said.
The variety of shots by both players had the crowd entranced, and Falconi agreed.
"Grace loved those drop shots. I pulled about 35 muscles because of those shots," she said.
Oaks Club Director of Tennis Tom Whitten saw the depth of each girl's talent.
"Irina dug deep today, and she didn't win pretty. She did what it took and showed the grit she's been playing with for the last few years," Whitten said.
Falconi faces Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the second round.
In other first-round play, Alize Cornet, 22, of Nice, France, defeated American and 2011 US Open Mixed Doubles champion Melanie Oudin, 7-5, 6-2. Cornet comes to the Oaks Tournament for the first time after playing seven other tournaments in a row. Cornet was 5-0 in the second set when Oudin started to come back.
"She was being creative with her shots," Cornet said.
When asked if she knew that fellow Frenchwoman Claire De Gubernatis won the tournament last year, Cornet replied that she knew Claire had won it. In fact, they are good friends.
"Claire told me about the tournament, and now I will tell everyone I know how nice it is here." Cornet said. "Claire has actually been out for several months with a low-back injury."
Cornet peaked at No. 11 in the world in February 2009 after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open. She represented France in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and has played for the French Fed Cup team since 2008.
Local favorite and wild-card winner Caroline Dailey faced CoCo Vandeweghe and lost, 6-1, 6-2, amid much support for the 17-year-old high school junior from Lakewood Ranch.
"I struggled with the big points, and I was really nervous," Dailey said. "I am right there, level-wise. It's going to come with time and patience," Dailey lamented.
Vandeweghe knew she was facing a local girl but felt her qualifying matches helped set the tone of play.
"My experience outweighed the crowd," Vandeweghe said. "Winning three previous qualifying matches helped."
Vandeweghe will next play No. 3 seed Alexandra Panova of Russia, who is ranked No. 83.
Alize Cornet, France, def. Melanie Oudin, United States, 7-5, 6-2
Jessica Pegula, United States, def. Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5)
Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, def. Jana Cepelova, Slovakia, 3-3 Ret.
Eugenie Bouchard, Canada, def. Laura Robson, Great Britain, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4
CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, def. Caroline Dailey, United States, 6-1, 6-2
Irina Falconi , United States, def. Grace Min, United States, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Florencia Molinero, Argentina, def. Mandy Minella, Luxembourg, 7-6 (3), 6-2
Valeria Savinkh, Russia, def. Nina Bratchikova, Russia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
Sesil Karatantcheva, Kazakhstan, def. Anastasia Yakimova, Belarus, 6-1, 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic, France, def. Alexandra Panova, Russia, 6-4, 6-2
Lindsay Lee-Waters, United States/Megan Moulton-Levy, United States def. Natalie Grandin, Republic of South Africa/Vladmira Uhlirova, Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5
Julia Cohen, United States/Florencia Molinero, Argentina def. Lauren Burich, United States/Tristen Z. Dewar, United States, 6-1, 6-0
Now in its fourth year as tournament host, The Oaks Club is recognized as one of the most active tennis facilities in the area, featuring twelve, state-of-the-art, HAR-TRU® tennis courts, including four lighted courts, recently renovated with the HydroGrid irrigation system and maintained to tournament standards. For more info: www.theoaksclub.com
ABOUT THE USTA PRO CIRCUIT
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 33 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki, James Blake, Li Na and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.