MOUNT PLEASANT - Caroline Dolehide really is a great clay-court player. The Hinsdale, Ill., 21-year-old just looks like a hard-court standout with her awesome forehands and serves.
She's that, too.
But on Sunday in the singles final of the ITF World Tennis Tour $60K on the clay surface at LTP Tennis, the powerful 5-10 player looked like she had found a home. She finally had to play a third set after four consecutive one-sided matches, but it was over almost before the crowd of about 100 settled back into their seats after a tense second-set tiebreaker.
Dolehide rallied all the way back from a 5-0 deficit to force that tiebreaker to decide the second set. But there were few questions about the third set in a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-0 victory for Dolehide.
The title was worth $9,119 for Dolehide, but it also is projected to give her WTA Tour ranking of No. 203, a boost of about 40 spots.
To prove that Dolehide is outstanding on other surfaces as well, she also won a $60K hard-court tournament in Concord, Mass., in August, and was a doubles semifinalist at this year's U.S. Open.
What about that 5-0 deficit in the second set?
"It was a little windy. I made more errors," Dolehide said.
And the turnaround of winning five straight games to force the tiebreaker?
"You've got to stay in it."
And that she did. Forget the tiebreaker.
"I had to come out firing in the third set. I played some really good tennis in the third set," Dolehide said.
Name it. Serve, forehand, backhand? She hit them all with near-perfect precision.
She roared through the third set, yielding only seven points.
"It was a very physical, fun match with some adversity in the wind," said Dolehide, who has been ranked as high as No. 102 in the world in singles.
Currently ranked 69th in doubles, she was a doubles runner-up at the 2015 Junior French Open and at the 2016 Junior U.S. Open.
Dolehide changed her plans from going to Hilton Head Island this week for a $25K event to head westward for a series of four tournaments, $80Ks in Macon, Ga., and Tyler (Texas), and then a pair of larger purse tournaments in Houston and Las Vegas.
Other than the third set, it was no walkover for Dolehide. Giving away six inches to her taller opponent, Min was no pushover. She was superb in the second set with her drop shots and quick returns from her station on the baseline.
Now 25 and based out of the USTA national campus in Orlando, Fla., Min was the Junior U.S. Open singles champion in 2011 and a doubles champion at Junior Wimbledon that same year.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.