SA junior Simmonds beats third seed on day one of Soweto Open

2010-04-13 00:00

IT was a great day for South Africa and Sweden as the first round of the Soweto Open men’s and women’s tennis tournaments got under way at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre yesterday.

Young SA wild cards Chanel Simmonds and Nikala Scholtz downed seeds, while unseeded Swede Filip Prpic knocked off another highly fancied player.

It was Simmonds who started the trend when she stunned third seed Klara Zakopalova 6-1 3-6 7-5 in an outcome that reduced the talented Czech to tears at the end.

Simmonds’s familiarity with playing at altitude worked in her favour in the first set as the silky smooth, flowing strokes of Zakopalova were constantly hit too long and she appeared rattled by the adjustment she was required to make.

Once she had got out of her comfort zone and embraced the challenge, the Czech came back strongly in the second set.

Serving for the match in the 10th game of the third, Zakopalova appeared well on her way to advancing to the second round, but the home-schooled Kempton Park lass (17), who is completing grade 12 this year would have none of it.

Simmonds, SA’s number one junior, broke back for 5-5, held her serve and broke the third seed once again, needing just one match point to close it out.

“These hard courts are very fast and my favourite is clay, but I adjusted well tactically at each key phase of the match and feel I have the confidence now to go further in this tournament,” said Simmonds, who won the SA Closed Championship in January on her first attempt.

Simmonds only got back from Egypt on Sunday night, having won one of the two $10 000 tournaments she played there ahead of the Soweto event, where a total of $200 000 in prize money is on offer for the men and women.

Scholtz blasted number eight Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands off the court with a high percentage of his blistering first serves finding their mark, to the point where the Dutchman didn’t even bother to try to return his opponent’s sizzling ace that won the match 6-3 6-2.

Having just turned 19, Scholtz was SA’s top junior last year and ranked 22nd in the world at that level at one point, claiming the scalps of the world’s top five youngsters during that period.

“I’m over the moon, as I’ve earned my first ATP Tour points after coming so close to qualifying for the main draw at the SA Tennis Open,” the ice-blonde Scholtz said. “I have realised that you only get a limited number of chances at this level and you have to take them.”

Matches to watch out for today include SA’s Rik de Voest against Harel Levy of Israel.



Men’s singles first round: Filip Prpic (Swe) bt Karol Beck (Svk) 6-2 6-4; Niels Desein (Bel) bt Konstantin Kravchuk (Rus) 6-3 4-6 6-4; Izak van der Merwe (RSA) bt Ruan Roelofse (Rsa) 7-5 6-3; Raemon Sluiter (Ned) bt Raven Klaasen (Rsa) 6-2 7-6 (4); Nikala Scholtz (RSA) bt 8-Igor Sijsling (Ned) 6-3 62; Daniel King-Turner (NZL) bt Daniel Munoz de la Nava (Esp) 6-2 6-3.

Women’s singles first round: Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt 3-Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 6-1 3-6 7-5; Ksenia Lykina (Rus) bt Christi Potgieter (Rsa) 6-3 6-1; Oksana Kalashnikova (Geo) bt Lesya Tsurenko (Ukr) 6-3 5-7 6-2.

Final singles qualifiers (SA only) – Men: Alexander Peya (Aut) bt Pieter Calitz (Rsa) 6-0 6-2. Women: Scarlett Werner (Ger) bt Jessica Kahts (Rsa) 6-7 (4) 6-1 6-1.

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