Team USA’s Todd Harrity, Haley Mendez and Marina Stefanoni all exited the 2019 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions on Friday, January 18, but acquitted themselves well at the Harvard Club and in Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
Mendez, world No. 42, contested the first women’s match of the tournament and narrow lost out to Holland’s world No. 36 Milou van der Heijden 11-9, 13-15, 11-6, 11-9.
After recording one of the biggest upsets of his career in the first round on Wednesday, Harrity put on another show for the American fans in Vanderbilt Hall against ‘Superman’, Paul Coll. New Zealand’s world No. 7 earned a two game lead, but Harrity came back to win the third. The world No. 48 American then pushed to an 8-1 lead in the fourth, but squandered the lead as Coll came back to win 11-9 after fifty-five minutes.
“He came out and took the initiative, stepping in front of me and I just needed a rocket up me,” Coll said. “I felt like I could still get back in control physically, but he came out and he should be proud of what he has done. Obviously I was concerned going down in the fourth and I tried to get myself back into it. I just had my coach’s voice in my head going nuts at me. So, I got myself going and it maybe, was way too late. It probably should have happened in the third, but like I said he was playing at a really high pace and he put me under a lot of pressure.”
Team USA’s Stefanoni proved to be a formidable challenge for world No. 33 Zeina Mickawy in her second straight ToC wild card appearance. The sixteen-year-old stayed within reach of the Egyptian throughout the entire match, winning the second game, and squandering game balls in the fourth game, falling 14-12 after forty-six minutes.
“I’m really thrilled that I won this, it was really hard,” said Mickawy, who will play World No.4 Joelle King in the next round on the Oracle NetSuite SuiteSuccess court Saturday. “I just tried to push and it was really tough to play like this with Marina. She’s the younger player, she’s up and coming and she is going to be one of the top players on the PSA. I wasn’t playing that well at her age.”
“Obviously I am disappointed, but I will definitely take a lot of positives from this,” Stefanoni said. “It was great to get this opportunity again from tournament director John Nimick,” said Stefanoni, who became the first American in twelve years to win a British Junior Open title earlier this month. “It was super and I tried to make the most of it. I definitely feel that I am improving and am slowly going to break into the pro level.”
World No. 11 Amanda Sobhy and world No. 19 Olivia Blatchford Clyne are the only remaining Americans in either draw as both players prepare to compete Sunday.
Blatchford Clyne will be the first in action Sunday afternoon at 1:45pm as the twenty-five-year-old prepares to face Belgium’s Nele Gilis at the Harvard Club.
Sobhy, the 2016 ToC runner up, will open her tournament against Canada’s Danielle Letourneau Sunday evening in Grand Central at 7:30pm local time.
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