ASHLAND, Ky. — Maegan Manasse came to Ashland yet to qualify for the Braidy Industries $60,000 Women’s Tennis Classic main draw.
Nearly a week and six singles victories later, Manasse is in the tournament semifinals, having rallied to knock off Sanaz Marand, 2-1 (4-6, 6-3, 6-1), on Friday afternoon at the Ashland Tennis Center.
“It’s been long,” the 23-year-old Californian said of the process, “but I’m staying in (provided) housing, and they’re making me feel like I’m at home, and it’s great. I’m really taken care of this week, and just trying to take it one match at a time. Really, that’s it.”
Marand took the first set, 6-4, in which the two players combined to break each other’s serve in seven of the 10 games. The trend continued in the second set, with Manasse and Marand taking turns breaking serve in its first six games.
Manasse then bore down and won the final three games of that set to even the match. That was the turning point, she said.
“The second set, we kept breaking each other,” Manasse said. “It was break after break after break, and then 4-3 I finally held, and I was like, ‘Ah, I can do this.’
“I was just trying to hang tough because it was really, really hot and humid.”
Indeed, though sunny conditions helped atone for the start time being pushed back 2 hours and 19 minutes by morning rain, the heat took its toll on both players, especially late in the 2-hour, 26-minute-long match.
Manasse pushed through, breaking free from a 1-1 tie in the third set to win the final five games and the match.
“I knew she was tired,” Manasse said of Marand, who prevailed Thursday over fourth-seeded Kristie Ahn in a match that took 32 games and 2 hours and 47 minutes to complete. “She had a really long match yesterday, and I was also tired, but I kept telling myself, ‘Just hang in there, focus on every point and then you can relax after every point. And once you start playing, it’s a lot of feet, footwork, legs, and just focus on what you can control.’ That’s just what I did.”
Manasse hit big shots to do it, atoning for some mistakes on shorter plays.
“I knew I made some errors, but that’s my game,” she said. “I go for my shots, and I’ll make errors, but also hit some good shots as well.”
Manasse is playing in only her second $60,000 tournament. Last week, she bowed out in the second round of the Berkeley (California) Tennis Club Challenge.