The Dutch hit the jackpot on Sunday in the Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament finals. Two rather obscure players from the Netherlands qualified for the main draw of the WTA Tour Premier-level event that starts Monday at Family Circle Tennis Center.
Cindy Burger, a 23-year-old Dutch, got plain lucky when qualifying third seed Samantha Crawford pulled out of her scheduled match against Burger in the final round qualifier on Sunday. Crawford suffered a right wrist injury in a fall during a first-round victory over 37-year veteran Patty Schnyder on Saturday.
Powerful Lesley Kerkhove scored one of the biggest wins of her career by rallying past 10th seed Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, to give the Netherlands two of the eight main draw qualifiers.
As it turned out, the 21-year-old Tig also was awarded a berth in the main draw as a lucky loser. Tig is ranked 129th in the world.
Another lucky loser was 2014 Family Circle Cup runner-up Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, a 22-year-old ranked 126th in the world.
But 17-year-old rising star Raveena Kingsley of Baltimore fell by the wayside in front of a large mid-day crowd on the Althea Gibson Club Court. Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, the 26-year-old 11th seed, jumped on the talented Kingsley early and then outlasted the LSU recruit in the second set for a 6-0, 7-5 win to advance to the main draw.
“I need to get mentally tougher,” said the 5-7 Kingsley, who is currently ranked No. 347 in the world.
Kingsley thrilled the crowd by hitting numerous lines in the second set, but her ball found the net too often as Karatantcheva kept the pressure on by playing consistent clay-court tennis.
The athletic Kingsley served for the second set at 5-4, but lost the next three games, committing three unforced errors in the 10th game.
Kingsley is trying to decide whether she will turn pro or remain an amateur and head to LSU in the fall or in January in time for a freshman year of tennis at LSU. “It will depend on how I do on the circuit,” she said.
Her goal is to reach the top 150 by the fall or the top 100 by the end of the year. If either of those happen, Kingsley said she would turn pro and not play collegiate tennis.
The only top 100 qualifier was top-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia, the 29-year-old 2011 Family Circle Cup runner-up who is now ranked 96th. Once ranked as high as 21st in the world, Vesnina scored a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain on Sunday.
The youngest qualifier was 18-year-old 104th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7) win over the hard-hitting Cepelova.
Karatantcheva (No. 138), Burger (159) and Kerkhove (190) were just three of the seven qualifiers who were ranked outside the world’s top 100. Both Dutch players are at or near the top of their career rankings.
Kerkhove, a 24-year-old who has yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, made a big rally to put the pressure on the consistent Tig.
“She played fast at first and served well,” said the 5-7 Kerkhove, who lost to then-Charleston resident Jessica Pegula in last year’s final round of qualifying here. “But in the second set, she made some double faults and mistakes.”
That allowed Kerkhove to get back in the match and eventually to hold service on her fifth match point in the 10th game as the two players engaged in long, intense baseline battles. Finally, the bigger Kerkhove unloaded on a serve out wide that handcuffed the slender Romanian opponent to end the match.
The other three main draw qualifiers were 25-year-old 12th seed Kristina Kucova of Slovakia (No. 139), 23-year-old eighth seed Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia (125) and 26-year-old No. 7 seed Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey (121).
Former Family Circle Cup champion Jelena Jankovic withdrew from the Volvo Car Open due to a right shoulder injury.
Jankovic had been the No.9 seed.
“I’m very disappointed that I had to withdraw from this event. It is one of my favorite events on the tour. I really tried my best to recover and be ready to play, but unfortunately I still need more time to do the rehabilitation,” the 2007 Family Circle champion said.
Reach James Beck firstname.lastname@example.org.