By contributing writer Lisa Lamb
Barnes Tennis Center is hosting 11 of the world’s top-25 ranked players at the 2023 Cymbiotika San Diego Open, a Women’s Tennis Association 500-level tennis tournament that has attracted champions from 18 countries. The day session of Monday’s Main Draw begins at 11:30 am.
Saturday, September 9, Round 1 Qualifying.
The first qualifying round of the 2023 Cymbiotika San Diego Open Women’s Tennis Tournament got off to a thrilling start as three of the first four matches unfolded in upsets. Renata Zarazua, ranked 179th from Mexico, stunned the 49th-ranked Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic in a thrilling three-set showdown, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Meanwhile, on Court 2, the 222nd-ranked Louisa Chirico outperformed her American compatriot, 33rd-ranked Caroline Dolehide, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Varvara Lepchenko stormed back after losing the first set to outlast fellow American Madison Brengle, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Later in the day, local teenage wildcard entrant Alyssa Ahn exhibited powerful service games and defensive prowess that pushed Southern Californian Claire Liu to a three-set match. Ahn secured the first set 6-4 by fending off all three break points that Liu attempted, while seizing one of three opportunities to break Liu’s serve. However, Liu mounted a resilient comeback in the subsequent sets. Her serving performance strengthened notably, elevating her first-service percentage from 64% in the initial set to an impressive 72% and 79% in the second and third sets, respectively. This increase, coupled with her adeptness at converting break-point opportunities, allowed Liu to secure convincing second and third sets, ultimately clinching the match, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
With a display of power and athleticism, up-and-coming American teenager and wildcard entrant Clervie Ngounoue overwhelmed Australian Storm Hunter, 7-6 (3), 6-4, under the lights on Saturday night. At just 17 years old, Ngounoue’s relentlessness and forceful strokes proved to be an insurmountable challenge for Hunter.
Other Round 1 qualifying results: American Emma Navarro defeated wildcard player and recent SDSU transfer Yasmine Kabbaj from Morocco 6-1, 6-2. Iryna Shymanovich defeated Katrina Scott, 6-3, 6-3. Camila Osorio from Columbia bested Jamie Loeb, 6-1 6-2. Kayla Day (USA) triumphed over Maria Herazo Gonzalez from Columbia, 6-1 6-3. Magdalena Frech from Poland defeated Yulia Starodubtsewa of Ukraine 6-1, 6-3. American Hailey Baptiste advanced to Round 2 of qualifying after a win over Victoria Hu, 6-4, 6-0. Allaksandra Sasnovich prevailed over wildcard entrant Eryn Cayetano, 6-1, 6-4.
Sunday, September 10, Round 2 Qualifying
Chirico and Zarazua commenced the day’s opening match on the stadium court. Chirico asserted her dominance in the first set through a formidable display of serving prowess and efficient conversion of the sole break-point opportunity that came her way, 6-3. Zarazua, however, responded emphatically in the second set, elevating her first set percentage from a modest 48% in the first to an impressive 86%. She capitalized on one of her two break point chances, ultimately claiming the set 6-3. The decisive third set was marked by five service breaks. Chirico capitalized on three of her six break-point opportunities to secure the set 6-4 and ultimately earn her spot in the Main Draw.
The second match of the day showcased an exciting showdown between two formidable contenders: Liu, hailing from Thousand Oaks, and Ngounoue, from Washington DC. Ngounoue, transitioning from her illustrious junior career to the professional circuit, exhibited a versatile and remarkably mature game. Her repertoire included a masterful selection of shots, including hard-hitting topspins and flat balls, deft slices, well-timed drop shots, and adept net play. She also exhibited a keen sense of patience when the situation called for it, expertly constructing long points to eventually deliver winners. Ngounoue’s recent accolades include both the 2023 girls’ singles championship at Wimbledon and triumphing at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships in July. At this Round 2 Qualifier, Ngounoue displayed her resilience by warding off six of seven break-point opportunities while converting two of four break points to claim the first set, 6-4. The second set provided a dominant display as Ngounoue won a staggering 92% of her first-serve chances, never facing a break point. She broke Liu’s serve twice to secure the second set, 6-2, which in turn earned her a well-deserved place in the Main Draw.
Sasnovich defeated Lepchenko, 6-3 ,6-2. After an uncomplicated Round 1 qualifier, Orsorio needed a comeback to defeat Day 5-7, 6-4 ,6-3. Navarro easily overcame Shymanovich 6-3, 6-1 while Frech outlasted Baptiste in a back-and-forth three-setter, 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Monday is Military Appreciation Day and Night. Members of the military can purchase tickets for 25% off using code Military25. To learn more and purchase tickets, go to wtasdopen.com. As a special discount for readers, use code coronadotimes10 for a 10% discount on all other tickets.
The starting times for each day of the 2023 Cymbiotika San Diego Open are as follows:
Main Draw Day Sessions – Monday, 9-11 — Friday, 9-15 – 11:30 a.m.
Main Draw Evening Sessions – Monday, 9-11 — Friday, 9-15 – 5:30 p.m.
Doubles Championship – Saturday, 9-16 – 1:30 p.m.
Singles Championship – Saturday, 9-16 – 4 p.m.
(All times are PDT)
Schedule – Monday, Sep 11
BARNES STADIUM starts at 11:30 AM
A. Parks (USA) vs A. Potapova
[WC*] K. Volynets (USA) vs [Q*] C. Ngounoue (USA)
*NB 5:30 PM [Q] A. Sasnovich vs  B. Bencic (SUI)
A. Kalinina (UKR) vs K. Pliskova (CZE)
COURT 2 starts at 11:30 AM
 B. Krejcikova (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) vs C. Garcia (FRA) / D. Schuurs (NED)
*NB 1:00 PM J. Paolini (ITA) vs [Q] E. Navarro (USA)
[Q*] M. Frech (POL) vs [Q*] C. Osorio (COL)
S. Santamaria (USA) / I. Shymanovich vs  L. Kichenok (UKR) / J. Ostapenko (LAT)
O. Kalashnikova (GEO) / M. Kolodziejova (CZE) vs T. Mihalikova (SVK) / Y. Xu (CHN)
*NB=Not Before, WC= Wild Card Entrant, Q=Qualifier