Forbes surges to upset win on Day 1 of Orange Bowl
Turns out the secret to Abigail Forbes’ success on the tennis court was a little more focus off of it and, at least in the case of her first-round match at the Orange Bowl on Monday, employing a strategy coined by an ancient Chinese philosopher.
Forbes (pictured above) turned in the biggest victory of the first round at the Orange Bowl on the Frank Veltri Tennis Center’s green clay courts, toppling fourth-seeded Yuki Naito of Japan, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5.
Naito came into the 71st iteration of the world’s oldest and largest junior tennis tournament ranked No. 27 in the ITF World Junior Rankings. Forbes, though she was a singles finalist and doubles champion in this summer’s USTA Girls’ 18s National Clay Court Championships, has an ITF ranking of No. 303 and needed a wild-card entry into the main draw.
Finding herself an on-paper underdog when the draw was revealed, Forbes turned to the same strategy encapsulated by Sun Tzu’s ancient proverb: “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
Granted, this was just one victory, but it was an important step forward for the 16-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., as she approaches the prime of her junior career.
“When the draw first came out, I’m not going to lie, I got pretty nervous,” Forbes said. “She’s played all four Grand Slams. I’ve only played one. She’s Top 30 in the world. I’m Top 300. So, obviously, the odds weren’t really for me.
“But I looked up her record, and I saw that she was doing OK against people that I’ve seen before, and she was also losing to people that I’ve beaten. So I went in thinking, ‘Just play your game – play loose,’ and I actually had a lot of confidence as the match started.”
To this point, Forbes has shown flashes: the aforementioned clay-court success; a round-of-16 showing at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships in August, which was a run halted by Wimbledon girls’ champion Claire Liu.
While Liu and a host of other American girls, such as US Open girls’ champion Amanda Anisimova, French Open girls’ champ and world No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe and 13-year-old Coco Gauff, drew headlines for their performances throughout the summer, Forbes was working on her game with coach Cameron Moore out of his academy in Cary, N.C. She says she focused on improving her preparation for matches and thinking more tactically, which now has her poised to make a deep run in Plantation.
“This would mean a lot to me. I only really have played the ITFs in the U.S., and I’ve never won a main-draw match at a Grade A, so this means a lot to me,” Forbes said. “It means that I’m moving up, showing improvement, and it gives me a lot of confidence going into 2018.”
Forbes wasn’t the only American to topple a seed in the Girls’ 18s draw. Fifteen-year-old Oklahoma City native Vanessa Ong, who made a run to the girls’ quarterfinals at the 2016 US Open as a qualifying wild card, upended 12th-seeded and No. 53-ranked Ania Hertel of Poland, 6-3, 6-3.
On the boys’ side, Junior Davis Cup team member Govind Nanda of Cerritos, Calif., took down ninth-seeded Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-0.
Play begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Live scores can be found here.