Qualifying Sunday Underway With 8 Main Draw Spots on Line at Volvo Car Open
Steve Fogleman in Charleston
The carnival rides from the South Carolina State Fair were in full motion as I pulled up to the Volvo Car Open for opening round qualifying yesterday on Daniel Island, South Carolina. It’s a fitting metaphor for this place, which gets far less attention than the “Tennis Garden”. The grounds, like the clay courts themselves, are expertly manicured. At the East Coast’s last women-only tour level tennis event, there’s a carnival atmosphere, an almost Disney-like feeling here with an overwhelming amount of choices for a fan.
Madison Keys, Jelena Ostapenko, Shelby Rogers and Belinda Bencic hosted hundreds of fans sitting in on their practices on Stadium court, while thousands packed Althea Gibson court and outer courts to watch sixteen qualifying matches.
If you were an American and your last name began with a D, you won yesterday. Lauren Davis started the D run with a 7-6(2), 6-0 breezer over Lyudmyla Kichenok on Gibson. And just like that, she’s already qualified this morning in a walkover of Varvara Flink.
Francesca DiLorenzo, a 2019 Charleston qualifier, prevailed against Volvo Car Open pre-qualifier Jessica Ho, 6-3, 6-3. After the match, DiLo told me “I love the clay. I’ve been practicing on it for a couple of weeks now and getting used to it again, but I really like it.” On her opponent, Jessica Ho, she said “I thinks she played really well today. She gets a lot of balls back and I knew it was going to be a grind of a match. She’s such a tough player and she fights for every ball. I just tried to stay patient, look for opportunities and go for it when I had the chance.”
For DiLorenzo, a chance to be in Charleston is not one to miss.
“I really like the environment. I just like Charleston in general. Last year, I qualied here so that’s cool for me. I enjoy the clay and I enjoy the city so that always helps.”
Caroline Dolehide advanced to a qualifying final with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Lidziya Marozava and faces Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine for a spot in the main draw.
Kayla Day needed three sets to upset Bibiane Schoofs, 7-5, 6-7(1), 6-3 to set up an All-American matchup today with DiLorenzo. “I got a wild card in to the main draw (last year) and I remember I lost in three sets on this court, so it feels really good to win today,” Day told me. “Every single match I’ve played here has gone three sets so I’m always prepared for a fight here.” She opined that “for first round of qualies, the support was amazing. Not many WTA tournaments you go to have this kind of atmosphere in the first round of qualies. This felt like a final. It was great.”
And though, with not a D in her name, Nicole Melichar survived Silvia Soler-Espinosa in three, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 to take on top qualifying seed Kateryna Kozlova for a main draw berth.
It should be a short day with seven matches lined up and a threat of showers in the later afternoon before a major climate change moves through. The temperature is predicted to drop 30 degrees in the next 24 hours, so expect a slow-moving ball on Monday when main draw play begins.