Professional Tennis Comes to Fort Worth


Christina Allen

Amy Zhu and Sophie Chang receive their trophies after a win in the finals versus Rasheeda McAdoo and Ivana Popovic.

Benjamin Hoppe, News Editor

Tennis in Fort Worth. Very rare, but an exciting event to watch. On the week of September 20, TCU hosted a professional tennis tournament. The event brought in many tennis players who are mostly ranked 300th in the world or higher, except for Kaia Kanepi, ranked number 68 in the world and former top 20 player in 2012. All the players brought a lot of talent to Fort Worth and put on display some incredible talent for those who came, which mostly included only coaches, ball kids, and event coordinators.

By the last few days of the tournament, there were four strong tennis players left in the singles draw and two doubles teams. In the singles draw, the following players remained: Kayla Day, ranked 478 in the world; María Lourdes Carlé, ranked 406 in the world; Alexandra Bozovic, ranked 356 in the world; and Kaia Kanepi, ranked number 68 in the world.  For the doubles draw, the two remaining teams were Amy Zhu / Sophie Chang, unranked, and Ivana Popovic / Rasheeda McAdoo, unranked. 

For the first singles match, Day played Carlé. Day took a commanding lead in the first set of the match, and Carlé appeared to be quite frustrated, at one point smashing a ball towards the fence that nearly hit a certain ball boy who is now lucky enough to be writing this article. Taking advantage of her opponent’s frustration, Day took the first set handily with a score of 6-1, but she looked a little tired after the first set ended. Heading into the second set, Day took another lead, but this time Carlé came back in the set and pushed it into a tiebreak. Throughout that set, Day seemed to look tired after long rallies, and this helped Carlé make a comeback. Day, however, was able to hold on and get the victory. The win was not easy, though, and came with consequences. After the match, a trainer was called on to the court and worked with Day for about ten minutes. There was not an official announcement made about what the injury was or how it was sustained, but Day looked visibly exhausted and needed help walking off the court and up the stairs after meeting with the trainer.

Kayla Day and María Carlé play a tightly contested second set in their semi-final matchup. (Benjamin Hoppe ’24)

The other singles match that was played that day was between Bozovic and Kanepi. Kanepi was the heavy favorite going into this match, being the only player ranked inside of the top 100. However, Bozovic shocked the 30 people that were there, including coaches and parents of ball kids, and took the first set 6-3. Kanepi was able to come back in the second set though, overpowering Bozovic with heavy, flat shots. Kanepi kept up the momentum heading into the third set and was able to win the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

After the singles semi-final matches took place, the doubles final was set to take place. Before the match began, McAdoo, Popovic, and Chang talked about their preparation for the final match.

“There are stakes [for the match],” Popovic said. “It’s always tough, but I think you know either way you’re a winner in this position.”

The players have also faced many challenges along the way, some playing in both the singles and doubles draw, playing matches every day, and having to deal with the Texas heat. 

“You have pain and you [sometimes] have a quick turnaround,” McAdoo said. “Maybe you have to work a little bit extra for your partner. Sometimes too much is going on.”

Rasheeda McAdoo (yellow), Ivana Popovic (orange), and Sophie Chang (blue) get interviewed before playing in the doubles final match at TCU. (Christina Allen)

The doubles final match started right around 11:30 a.m., one of the hottest points of the day, and it was an interesting match. McAdoo and Popovic started strong in the first set, but then wavered a little bit partway through. They were able to hang on to the first set, however, and won it 6-4. Entering the second set, they seemed to start just as strong, but Chang and Zhu fought back in the set and took it pretty handily 6-3. Finally, in the third set, the doubles teams played a ten-point tiebreak, and it was a pretty tightly contested set. In the end, Zhu and Chang pulled ahead and won the match and the tournament.

The next day, Sunday, Day and Kanepi returned to play each other in the finals. Kaia Kanepi dominated in both the first and second sets and easily defeated Day 6-2, 6-1 to take the title in Fort Worth.

That isn’t all of the tennis action though in North Texas as the Dallas Open, a men’s ATP 250 event, will take place at SMU in February. The 250 in ATP 250 stands for the number of ranking points the winner will receive. For reference, world number one Novak Djokovic has 11,430 ranking points. There are going to be some pretty big names at this tournament, including world number 26 John Isner, who can serve about 140 mph. TCU will probably be hosting the same tournament next September as well, so there’s a lot of tennis to look forward to in the coming year.