KATE FAKIH OUTLASTS MEGAN MCCRAY IN FIRST ROUNDPRO TENNIS | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
AT FINAL SOCAL PRO SERIES STOP IN LAKEWOOD
AT FINAL SOCAL PRO SERIES STOP IN LAKEWOOD
JULY 13, 2023 | DAN THOMAS
KATE FAKIH OUTLASTS MEGAN MCCRAY IN FIRST ROUND AT FINAL SOCAL PRO SERIES STOP IN LAKEWOODUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
JULY 13, 2023
Pasadena rising high school senior Kate Fakih competes in the first round of the SoCal Pro Series event at Lakewood Tennis Center.
(Photo – Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)
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USTA Southern California wild card and 17-year-old Kate Fakih overcame sweltering heat, nerves, and a more experienced opponent to advance during first-round action on Wednesday at the Lakewood Tennis Center in the final stop on the seven-week SoCal Pro Series.
A SoCal Pro Series semifinalist four weeks ago at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Fakih dominated the opening set and dropped just one game to Oceanside’s Megan McCray, 28, who captured her first professional ITF World Tour women’s singles title in June at Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club.
“I am so excited that I won,” a jubilant Fakih said after defeating McCray for the first time, 6-1, 3-6, 5-1, ret. “I have been waiting for this match ever since the draw came out. I knew it was going to be a great match and a great experience.”
Trailing love-40, McCray, currently second in the “Race to Indian Wells” points standings, rallied to hold serve to kick off the second stanza. After her younger opponent managed to pull within a game, the former Oklahoma State University star returned the favor prior to closing out the second set, 6-3.
Immediately after taking the fourth game to go up 3-1 in the deciding set, Pasadena’s Fakih, who has verbally committed to UCLA, walked toward the umpire, vomited on the court and play was stopped for 20 minutes.
“I felt the nausea coming on in the first set from being nervous,” Fakih said. “I was in that situation last week when I played at an ITF tournament in Veracruz, Mexico, and the same thing happened. I didn’t handle it well then, so I tried my best to correct my mistake.”
When play resumed following a three-minute warm up, a re-energized Fakih held and broke serve in the next two games to go up 5-1.
After dropping the first point of the seventh game, McCray informed the referee that she could not continue after reinjuring the same right ankle she hurt during a tournament last week.
“I was able to step in during the first and third sets and look for my forehand more,” said Fakih, who will take on Mary Lewis during the second round. “She (McCray) was the more aggressive player, so I stepped back a little bit. At the beginning of the third set, I really tried to move in and keep the pressure on.”
In men’s opening-round action, San Diego’s Bryce Nakashima returned to form by defeating his friend, Hudson Rivera of Rancho Santa Fe, 6-4, 6-4. The pair have been playing together since they were 14, live 20 minutes away from each other, and share the same coach.
“I haven’t been playing my best these past couple of weeks,” Nakashima said. “When I drift off, I need to get back on track every time and focus. Today I was able to do that.”
In a battle of Southern California collegiate standouts, No. 3-seeded Stefan Dostanic of Irvine and USC rolled to a straight-set victory over Topanga native and UC Santa Barbara freshman Gianluca Brunkow, 6-2, 7-5.
“I was not focused enough and didn’t play my best tennis but am happy to get through to the second round,” said Dostanic, a former two-time Orange County Register Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year. “I want to make sure that I am more locked in and try to step on my opponents.”
Although both top seeds Hanna Chang of Fontana and Omni Kumar of Irvine dropped their first-round matches in straight sets Wednesday, other highlighted Southern California players moved on to round two.
San Diego native and No. 2 seed Haley Giavara cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Qavia Lopez, the nation’s top-ranked recruit for the 2023 women’s tennis class who signed with the University of Florida.
In other seeded action, No. 4-seeded Gage Brymer of Irvine dropped the first set to Isaiah Strode of El Cajon before rallying to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.
Additionally, the reigning USTA Nationals Boys’ 18s Kalamazoo champion and No. 8-seeded Learner Tien of Irvine and USC dropped just three games en route to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Newbury Park’s Wally Thayne. Joining Tien by losing only three games was Rancho Santa Fe native and No. 5-seeded Jacob Brumm in a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Columbia University’s Ishaan Ravichander.
Daily tournament admission and parking is free to the public at all SoCal Pro Series events. This year’s final SoCal Pro Series’ event is currently taking place at Lakewood Tennis Center and will culminate on Sunday, July 16.