Charleston's Emma Navarro lived up to her No. 1 seeding on Sunday in the first round of the Junior U.S. Open tennis championships in New York.
However, there was some added pressure on the 18-year-old Ashley Hall senior. As the top seed for the second straight time at a Junior Grand Slam, the pressure didn't go away entirely. Add the TV cameras that broadcast the match live on ESPN's U.S. Open Mix channel, and the expectations ran high.
The TV analysts kept saying "She's doing well" in juniors as the No. 1 seed.
Navarro blitzed 17-year-old Hong Yi Wong of Hong Kong in a quick first set, but things got a little tight in the second set before Navarro finished off a 6-0, 6-3 victory in 69 minutes. Navarro won the first six games of the match and the last three games.
It was enough to send Navarro into the second round of the 64-draw tournament at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center where Navarro next faces 16-year-old left-hander Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, a Junior Wimbledon doubles finalist.
"It's definitely a different feeling from last year coming in as the one seed," Navarro said. "I don't focus too much on that. I try to just play my game but it definitely comes with a little bit of pressure and a little bit of a confidence boost.
"Today's match was pretty tough. She played well in the second set especially. I'm happy with how I played and worked my way through some tough games."
After Navarro played an almost flawless first set in which she committed only four unforced errors, Wong started working her way into the match with well-placed drop shots. Wong won the first two games of the second set before Navarro took charge again by winning the next three games for a 3-2 advantage.
Wong fought off four break points to hold service to deadlock the second set at 3-3. Navarro then overcame four break points to hold service to start another three-game streak that wrapped up the win.
Wong, who committed 32 unforced errors for the match, won only two of her nine second-service points in the first set.
In the U.S. Open's first round of main draw women's doubles late last week, Navarro and Hailey Baptiste rallied from 3-0 down to win the second set, but veteran pros Christina McHale and Kristie Ahn took charge in the third set to post a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1 victory .
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.