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Lexington Challenger Tennis Charity, Inc.
Tournament Managed By:
Bluegrass Management Group
2204 Peppertree Court
Lexington, KY 40513
July 28, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – American Shelby Rogers fell to her knees Sunday when she won the singles championship at Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships Presented by the Lexus Store of Lexington.
The win meant not only had she won a Challenger-level tournament, it also meant a wild card into the 2013 U.S Open., her second wild card into a Grand Slam this year.
Rogers, a 20-year-old from Charleston, S.C., defeated Julie Coin of France 6-4, 7-6 (3).
She earned her way in by beating a tough, seasoned opponent in Coin, who is ranked 177 with a career-high of 60.
Coin started the match with aggressive offensive playing and big serves. She didn't let Rogers get a single point in the first game, following an ace with a clean forehand winner to take the game. The two women each held serve until at 3-3 when three unforced errors allowed Rogers an important break. Rogers began attacking the ball more and also settled down to get in more of her first serves.
"I knew she was going to come out with big serves, aces left and right," Rogers said. "I couldn't be upset about that. I had the mindset of weathering the storm. I had to focus on being solid and not give away too many free points. You always get opportunities, it is whether you buckle down and take them and execute your shots."
Rogers' coach, Troy Hahn with the USTA Players Development Program in Boca Raton, Fla., where Rogers has been for two years, said she did a good job countering Coin's strengths.
"Shelby served well and used her height on her forehand to Julie's backhand and disrupted her very aggressive forehand," he said.
In the second set, Rogers broke Coin sooner. Capitalizing on a double fault and three unforced errors put Rogers up 3-2. The tide changed, however, at 4-3 when Coin took advantage of Rogers' streak of unforced errors to put the match at 4-4.
"When I was up a break I was thinking a little bit in the future, 'Oh my gosh, I could actually win this,' " Rogers said. "It messes with you. I had to regroup and think about nothing."
They each held their serves and took the set into a tiebreaker where Rogers got in 80 percent of her first serves, served an ace to take the score to 5-2, and rocked two clean winners down the line to take the match.
"She was serving very well, and I couldn't read her serve," Coin said. "I wasn't serving as well today as I had been in my previous matches or moving well, so that was the thing. I was not hurting her and taking too many risks at the end."
Rogers praised the USTA Player Development Program that has helped her transition from juniors to the pros.
"It's working," she said. "They have really helped with my fitness. The coaches have been incredible, and we work with one another — the players and the coaches — as a really good team. I think all the American's rankings show the effort is paying off."
Earlier in the year Rogers won a wild card spot to the French Open where she made it to the second round.
For the U.S. Open, the USTA offered one women's wild card to the player who earned the most WTA points at two of three $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events in Yakima, Wash., Portland, Ore., and at the Lexington tournament. Rogers earned 102 points with her win at the Fifth Third and a semifinals appearance at Portland.
"The Open is incredible," Rogers said after winning the Fifth Third. "I have played in the qualies and I have played in the main draw once before; I won a wild card from the national open when I was in 18s, so it will be nice to be back on the big stage. I'm looking to do some damage there."
Great Britain's James Ward did what he could not do in 2011 when he made it to the finals of the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships. He won.
Ward took down opponent James Duckworth in three sets. The 21-year-old Australian came out on the court with a game plan that must have included big serves and giving Ward as little to work with as possible. Duckworth kept Ward off balance most of the first set, starting off by breaking him in the first game and going on to take the first set 6-4.
After mangling his racket with a few heavy thumps on the court, the 26-year-old Ward began to get it together. He broke Duckworth at 2-1 after going to deuce to take the lead 3-1 and then held serve. The next three games the two men held each other to love, giving Ward a 5-3 lead before he held serve once more to take the set 6-3.
The two men seemed to change roles as Ward became the aggressor in the second set and played that part through the third set to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Ward, the No. 2 player in Great Britain after Andy Murray, said after the match that Duckworth came out with a strategy that required Ward to adjust and to overcome his frustration.
"And I stopped making so many mistakes," said Ward, who last year lost to American Mardy Fish in an epic four-hour, five-set match in the second round of Wimbledon.
Duckworth, whose grandmother Beryl Penrose won the singles and doubles title in the 1955 Australian Open, said he couldn't sustain his level of play in the second set. "I gave him a lot of looks at my second serve, and he started playing better," he said.
With the passage of a few days, Duckworth said he'd be able to look back on the tournament and appreciate his improvement over last year when he lost a close one in the quarterfinals.
"Right now I'm just disappointed," he said.