(U.S. Tennis Association Hawaii Pacific) - The second round of qualifying matches headlined the Tennis Championships of Honolulu (TCOH) Monday. A star line-up of U.S. players took the court as three of the seven scheduled matches featured American players competing against their fellow compatriots.
The opening match on stadium court consisted of two players with University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) ties. Catherine Harrison, a UCLA alum, went up against the current no.1 player for the Bruins, Ena Shibahara. Harrison came out firing with some incredible winners from the baseline to take the first set 6-3. Shibahara mixed up her game in the second set with serve and volley to eventually win the set 6-4. Harrison regained her composure at the start of the third set and utilized her two-handed forehand to win the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
“I was expecting a battle today. [Shibahara] has a lot of confidence from her college season this year playing and winning as the no.1 for UCLA.”
The second all-American match featured Salma Ewing and Alexa Ryngler, two young junior talents looking to be in the last round of the qualifying matches. At age 17, Ewing is the no.1 junior player from California and second ranked junior player in the nation. Ewing’s all-around court game was able to withstand Ryngler’s steadiness, winning the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
“[Ryngler] was playing better in the second, but I knew that I just had to play my game to win the match.”
The final match of the day featured local hero Alyssa Tobita. Fans filled the seats as they watched her battle it out in an epic three-setter against Michaela Gordon. The first set came to a tiebreaker as both held and exchanged breaks of serves. Gordon, a sophomore player for Stanford University, saw herself trailing in the tiebreaker but found the momentum to take the first set 7-6(4). Tobita then shifted gears and found the drive to dominate the second set 6-1. The third set had both players’ return game shine as they continued to break each other’s serves. Gordon eventually held her serve to close out the match 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3.
Although it was not the result she had hoped for, Tobita walked off the court with her head high as she remains to be a huge inspiration for Hawaii tennis. Following her defeat, multiple young girls approached her to ask for autographs.
“Thank you to everyone who came out to support me. It was special to have won my first pro match on Hawaii soil and play in front of a home crowd,” Tobita said.
The main draw of the Tennis Championships of Honolulu (TCOH) begins tomorrow at 10:00 am and will feature both singles and doubles matches. For information on tickets and community activities, visit www.goTCOH.com.