NEW YORK -- What about unpredictable Naomi Osaka? Almost no one expected Osaka to defeat Serena Williams in Saturday’s U.S. Open women’s final.
But the same player who practically gave up while in total control of a round of 16 match at the Volvo Car Open against Julia Goerges demonstrated her extraordinary talent this time in a 6-2, 6-4 win over Williams.
That gave the 20-year-old Osaka the two biggest checks in U.S. women’s tennis. After the big one she picked up with the Indian Wells, Calif., title, Osaka walked off the court with a check for $3.8 million after upending Serena. That was the real Naomi Osaka.
At the VCO, a different Osaka told her coach during the match that she didn’t want to be there.
It was hot that day out on the Althea Gibson Court at Family Circle Tennis Center, but Saturday was a perfect cool for Osaka as she used quickness and control of her big game to give Japan its first Grand Slam singles title.
Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck ran out of miracles on Saturday in the doubles semifinals of the Junior U.S. Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
They needed a miracle playing the Venus and Serena Williams of junior tennis. Although not sisters, 6-2 Dalayna Hewitt of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and shorter, but powerful Hailey Baptiste of Washington, D.C., were forces to be reckoned with because of their size, power and athletic ability.
Beck and Navarro played well and were tied at 3-3 in the first set and ahead 3-2 in the second set before the Hewitt/Baptiste team broke away each time for a 6-4, 6-3 victory, winning 16 of the last 17 points of the match.
It’s no joke that Hewitt could set up at the net on deuce service points and not move, but reach out to the center line to put away winning volleys on returns off Baptiste’s well-placed serves. And Hewitt’s service speed may be close to Serena’s.
Navarro had faced nothing but stacked draws since July when she won the U.S. girls 18 clay court singles championship and then doubles title with Beck. In the hard court nationals that followed, as a mere 17th seed Navarro drew former world’s No. 1 junior and eventual champion Whitney Osuigwe in the round of 32.
Navarro was unseeded in both singles and doubles in the Junior U.S. Open, and drew the No. 3 seed in singles in the first round. That player, China’s Xiyu Wang, played in Saturday’s singles semifinals.
The Navarro-Beck team defeated a No. 6 seeded team in the second round that included Clara Burel from France. Burel is in Sunday’s Junior U.S. Open singles final.
But this time, Hewitt and Baptiste were too strong for the Duke-bound team of Beck and Navarro.
THREE SCHSL TITLES?
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect Charleston area high school teams to sweep three of the four SCHSL girls tennis state titles this fall. Plus, at least one SCISA crown.
Bishop England looks like a shoo-in in Class AAA to win an eighth consecutive state title for coach Kristin Fleming Arnold. The Bishops have all six of their top players back in Eleanor Campbell, Lily Woods, Jenna Santa Lucia, Jenna Santa Lucia, Mackenzie Penton and Crista Vroman. Also, they have another Woods standout, Izzy Woods, aboard.
The Bishops are gearing up for a pair of big events in the next two weeks. Powerful, unbeaten Wando is set to entertain the unbeaten Bishops on Sept. 19, and then two days later the Bishops will hold the annual BE Invitational, which should answer many of the other questions for local girls teams for the fall.
Wando is led by two sets of sisters, the Sinclaires (Kelsey and Abby) and Zimmermans (Lily and Ellie), and a host of other outstanding players. The Warriors went 18-3 last season and advanced all the way to the Lower State Class AAAAA final before being stopped by River Bluff.
Then, there’s upcoming Oceanside Collegiate Academy, which is eligible for the time for the SCHSL playoffs. The Landsharks have super senior Kat Lyman and a strong supporting staff as they prepare for a test on Tuesday at Charleston Tennis Center against Ashley Hall.
If Emma Navarro is back from her strong showing at the Junior U.S. Open to join solid senior Rebecca Spratt, coach Mary Gastley’s Ashley Hall outfit should be ready for the test.
Ashley Hall might be a safe bet to win SCISA Class AAA, with defending champion Porter-Gaud suffering from the loss of talented freshman Sophie Williams to junior tennis and Alex Hildell to the Wofford tennis program.
Oceanside looks like a strong contender to win Class AA state honors in its first year of eligibility. Academic Magnet has moved up to Class AAA after losing to Christ Church in two straight Class AA state finals.
CPTL IS BACK
Oceanside coach Phil Whitesell also has been busy with the Charleston Pro Tennis League, which opened its season on Friday night before a good crowd at the I’On Club. The CPTL will move over to Wild Dunes next Saturday for a 2 p.m. program.
The CPTL has been a hit in the Charleston area for nearly two decades, and has been making a strong comeback under the leadership of former College of Charleston men’s coach Whitesell.
Local juniors Coy Simon and Huntley Allen teamed up recently to take the doubles title in an ITF Intercollegiate Tennis Association summer circuit event at Wake Forest.
Delores Jackson has retired as director of the nationally recognized City of Charleston’s Courting Kids program. Mi’Kola Cooper, one of Jackson’s former students from the program and an ex-Charleston Southern University standout, has taken over as the new director of Courting Kids.