Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers came within two points -- twice -- of advancing to the second round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday afternoon. But both opportunities went for naught as Shuai Peng of China rose to the occasion and pulled out a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Rogers in the opening round of the U.S. Open in New York.
"It was a close match … just a point or two there. I played really well, although it wasn't one of my best serving days," Rogers said from New York after the nearly three-hour match.
Rogers' first-serve percentage was just 46 percent. She had nine double-faults in the match, dropping her serve in her first service games in each of the last two sets.
Both Rogers and her longtime coach, Charleston pro Bryan Minton, thought she played well.
"I'm not disappointed at all today. I learned a lot. I'm only going to improve from here. I see a lot of success in my future," Rogers said.
The 17-year-old Charlestonian, who earned a berth in the U.S. Open main draw by winning the recent national junior championship, trailed most of the first set before holding service in the 12th game and then taking a tight tiebreaker. Rogers rallied from a service break down in the second set to take 5-4 and 6-5 leads, with Peng having to serve to stay in the match.
Peng held serve the first time at love, but the 12th game went to 30-30 and deuce before Peng forced a tiebreaker. Peng jumped to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker, then held off Rogers at 4-3 by winning the last three points to even the match at one set apiece.
Peng extended her streak to 10 straight points by taking the first seven points of the third set as she gained a 2-0 lead. Rogers never fully recovered.
"Shelby was close. She fought hard, but she couldn't quite pull it off," Minton said.
"On one of the points (30-30 in the 12th game) when Shelby was close to winning the second set, the other girl fell down and it looked like Shelby had an opportunity to win the point. But Shelby took her eye off the ball and missed it wide. Out of all the points she lost in the whole match, that probably was the toughest."
Rogers was impressed by the 24-year-old Peng, who is ranked 61st in the world but has been plagued all year by injuries and sicknesses.
"(Peng) served really well and moved forward really well," Rogers said. "She hit deep balls to the corners and moved me around. She hit two-handed from both sides, but I had practiced with a girl that used both hands on both sides."
Rogers was happy. She even got to sign a few autographs after the match and was greeted by about 30 people she knew. She hit next to both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the practice courts. Rogers also was scheduled to meet Billie Jean King today with other young players for a mentoring session.
"It's been great," Rogers said about her experience at the U.S. Open.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.