Mercer Tennis Classic
Qualifying Wraps Up, Main Draw Doubles Starts
MERCER UNIVERSITY – LEROY PEDDY TENNIS CENTER – OCT 21 – OCT 27, 2019
USTA Pro Circuit 80K Event
**2019 NCAA Women’s Singles Final Rematch Doesn’t Disappoint**
MACON, Georgia, (October 22, 2019) An hour rain delay to start the day didn’t damper the excitement of tennis fans in Middle Georgia or hurt the quality of play as the 2019 Mercer Tennis Classic kicked into high gear on Tuesday.
Singles qualifying finals for the 80K USTA Pro Circuit event begin at 11am on Tuesday, followed by the start of the main draw doubles.
One of the top junior players in the world, Gabriella Price, at just 16 years old, earned her way into the main draw of this 80K USTA Pro Circuit event with a close 6-1, 3-6, (10-6) victory over qualifying No. 3 seed, Suzan Lamens of The Netherlands. Price used her deep groundstrokes to dictate points against her Dutch opponent.
A rematch of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Singles Championships drew a big crowd on Court 1. This match had a little of everything. Great baseline play, saved set points and long rallies in just about every game. No cheap points here- everything was earned in this tilt between Katerina Jokic of Serbia (University of Georgia) and Estela Perez-Somarriba of Spain (University of Miami). Jokic looked in command most of the first set, but when she couldn’t serve out the set at 5-3, Perez-Somarriba took advantage of missed opportunities to win a tiebreaker and take the opener. The second set went much like the first. Long rallies and games with excellent shotmaking and movement from each player. Perez-Somaribba once again had enough at the end of the set to close it out and take the match.
WTA Tour vet and former Georgia Tech standout, Irina Falconi, was also looking for a spot in Macon’s main draw. She took on young American Peyton Stearns, who had an impressive run in Florence last week. Falconi has missed a lot of time in 2019, but it didn’t show as she relied on her experience to take out the youngster. Stearns struggled with her serve much of the match and Falconi hit the corners to keep Stearns off balance and take the match 6-2, 6-4.
Astra Sharma of Australia, currently ranked No. 96 in the world is the top seed in the singles draw. Osuigwe is 17 and a former No. 1 junior in the world.
The singles main draw features some intriguing opening round matchups.
WTA Tour vets, Coco Vandeweghe and 2018 Mercer Tennis Classic champ, Varvara Lepchenko will be in action on Wednesday.
Estela PEREZ-SOMARRIBA (ESP) Katarina JOKIC (SRB) 7-6(2) 6-4
Gabriella PRICE (USA) Suzan LAMENS (NED)  6-1 3-6 [10-6]
Anhzelika ISAEVA (RUS)  Anastasia SUKHOTINA (RUS)  6-1 7-5
Andrea Renee VILLARREAL (MEX)  Emerald ABLE (USA)  6-0 7-5
Irina FALCONI (USA) Peyton STEARNS (USA)  6-2 6-4
Elysia BOLTON (USA)  Keisha R. CLOUSING (USA) 7-6(1) 2-6 [10-3]
Ingrid NEEL (USA)  Andie K. DANIELL (USA)  6-2 3-6 [10-6]
Sanaz MARAND (USA)  Beatrice GUMULYA (INA)  6-3 6-4
Usue Maitane ARCONADA (USA)  / Caroline DOLEHIDE Hanna CHANG (USA) / Gabriela TALABA (ROU) 6-2 6-1
Suzan LAMENS (NED) / Marina MELNIKOVA (RUS) Alla KUDRYAVTSEVA (RUS) / Varvara LEPCHENKO (USA) 2-6 6-4 [10-7]
Alexandra MUELLER (USA) / Sophia WHITTLE (USA) Angelina GABUEVA (RUS) / Anastasia SUKHOTINA (RUS) 7-5 6-2
Ellen PEREZ (AUS)  / Astra SHARMA (AUS) Rasheeda MCADOO (USA) / Katerina STEWART (USA) 6-4 6-4
Johanna LARSSON (SWE) / Mandy MINELLA (LUX)  Andie K. DANIELL (USA) / Anastasia NEFEDOVA (USA) 6-3 6-4
Jaimee FOURLIS (AUS) / Valentini GRAMMATIKOPOULOU Emerald ABLE (USA) / Epiphany B. TURNER (USA) 6-4 6-2
Sanaz MARAND (USA) / Ingrid NEEL (USA) Victoria FLORES (USA) / Kenya JONES (USA)6-3 6-3
Giuliana OLMOS (MEX) / Whitney OSUIGWE (USA) Beatrice GUMULYA (INA) / Jessy ROMPIES (INA)  6-4 5-7 [10-2]
The top seeded doubles team for the week is Johanna Larsson and Mandy Minella.
Eric Hayes, Mercer Men’s and Women’s Head Tennis Coach and Tournament Director commented on some of the early round matches.
“Many of these matches are matchups you would find in the first round of Grand Slam tournaments.
Mark your calendars for a week of events.
Wednesday October 23 – Main Draws of Singles and Doubles, Kids Day activities
Thursday October 24 – Second round matches
Friday October 25 – Quarterfinal matches
Saturday October 26 – Semifinal matches
Sunday October 27 – Finals at times TBD
For 2019, the Tennis Channel will once again be in Macon. This year they will cover the first rounds on its online platform, and the semifinals and finals will be live on Tennis Channel
“It’s a testament to how much our event has grown and the quality of field we get each year that the Tennis Channel would want to come to Macon and show live coverage. This is unprecedented coverage and exposure for not only Mercer, but for the city of Macon and Middle Georgia.”
Now in its seventh year and third year as an 80K event, the Mercer Tennis Classic will once again feature a weeklong 32 player singles draw and 16 doubles teams in Macon. It’s seven days of fan friendly tennis and now the second biggest professional tournament in the state of Georgia in terms of prize money (ATP World Tour 250 event – BB&T Atlanta Open in July, is the largest). It is also the longest running professional women’s tennis tournament in the state of Georgia.
The Mercer Tennis Classic has featured players with major titles. 2014 Macon singles champ, Kateryna Bondarenko, of Ukraine, and her sister, Alona, teamed with to win the 2008 Australian Open Doubles title. The Bondarenko Sisters have played doubles in Macon. In 2017, 2010 French Open singles champ, Francesca Schiavone of Italy was the top seed.
Players come to Macon to play for $80,000 in prize money, valuable WTA ranking points and in the past, a spot in the first major of 2020, the Australian Open in Melbourne. A women’s wild card will be awarded to the American with the highest cumulative total of WTA singles ranking points earned from upcoming events. Only Americans who do not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible. In the event of a tie, the player with the best WTA singles ranking, will be awarded the wildcard.
Highlights of the week include the Tuesday Pro Am and Player/Sponsor party, and an annual event with free lessons, food and more. Also the players will make visits to area schools to promote tennis as a lifetime sport and the professional event, along with surprises during the week!
Tournament volunteers are needed and any help is always appreciated. Call Mercer tennis coach and tournament director Eric Hayes at (478) 301-2269.