NEWPORT, R.I. – You won’t find Katrine Steffensen’s name in the just-released Oracle ITA Division I Women’s Preseason National Rankings, but after a gritty performance in the opening round of the 2017 Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational, she’ll be the talk of the town for at least a night.
Playing on the historic grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in majestic Newport, Rhode Island, Steffensen pulled out a three-set victory over top-seed and No. 4-ranked Sara Daavettila of North Carolina 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (9) to advance to the semifinals in the Kim Clijsters draw.
The senior from Scarsdale, New York, will face No. 4 seed Anna Danilina of defending NCAA Champion Florida in Saturday’s semifinal round. Danilina turned back LSU’s Jessica Golovin 6-0, 6-4 on Friday.
The other semifinal in the Kim Clijsters draw has No. 3 Jessie Aney of North Carolina taking on No. 2 Josie Kuhlman of Florida. Aney scored a 7-6, 6-4 win over Princeton’s Stephanie Schrage, while Kuhlman bested LSU’s Ryann Foster 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3).
The women are vying for a prize that’s new to the Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational, now in its second year. The winner of the Kim Clijsters draw earns entry into the main draw of a $25,000-level USTA Pro Circuit event, while the finalist gains a place in the qualifying round of a $25,000-level USTA Pro Circuit event.
The men are also competing for a prize rooted in the professional game. The champion of the Andy Roddick flight earns a wild card into the main draw of the 2018 Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, which is an ATP World Tour 250 event played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame annually in July. The men’s finalist will be placed into the qualifying draw of the tournament.
In the Andy Roddick flight, top seed Alex Rybakov of TCU defeated Robert Loeb of Georgia in straight sets 6-1, 6-1. Rybakov is ranked No. 12 in the Oracle ITA Division I Men’s National Preseason Rankings. The TCU junior will face No. 4 seed Jackie Tang of Columbia in Saturday’s semifinal round. Tang scored a 6-7, 6-4, 1-0 (7) victory over Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois on Friday.
The other men’s semifinal will feature Alastair Gray of TCU taking on Jan Zielinski of Georgia. Gray defeated No. 3 seed Victor Pham of Columbia 6-1, 6-0, while Zielinski ousted No. 2 seed Aron Hiltzik of Illinois in a tight three-set affair 6-4, 1-6, 1-0 (9).
The 2017 Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational features nine teams (Columbia, Illinois, Georgia and TCU men; Florida, LSU, North Carolina, North Texas and Princeton women) that will compete in a flighted singles and doubles round-robin format. For updated draws, order of play, daily recaps and video highlights, head to the official event page.
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