In the girls singles at Wimbledon on Monday, several seeds were eliminated in their opening round matches, the highest being Sada Nahimana, the 7th from Thailand, who lost to British wild card Matilda Mutavdzic, 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Mutavdzic joins Sonay Kartal and Erin Richardson in the second round due on court on Tuesday.
Other Brits were not so fortunate, with Emma Raducanu falling in three after an impressive start to Martyna Kubka from Poland, 0-6 6-1 7-5; and Amarni Banks losing to Russian qualifier Polina Kudermetova, 6-1 6-0.
15-year old Katrina Scott had never played on grass before the ITF Grade 1 in Nottingham 3 weeks ago, but she reached the semi-finals there and, with a 6-3 6-4 win over No 16 seed Adrienn Nagy of Hungary in the first round, the American has now chalked up 9 victories on the surface.
“I’m surprised about how much I love grass,” said the Southern Californian. “Before here I’ve never really played on grass. I like how it’s faster; for me it’s easier to move on and points are quicker.”
Scott fell behind in the first set, and trailed 4-2 in the second, but the confidence she has gained over the past 3 weeks proved too much for Nagy.
“It didn’t faze me, I knew that I just had to keep playing,” Scott said. “I broke back every time and I had some confidence in that.
“I have a lot of self-belief–after you do well in big tournaments, beat really good players, you gain confidence, and that makes it easier.”
The only player to beat Scott during this 3-week junior grass court season, No 5 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, will not stop Scott this week, with the American losing to Elsa Jacquemot of France, 6-2 6-0.
Black had beaten Jacquemot 6-2 6-2 last week in the Roehampton quarter-finals, but she was wrapped with tape from her thighs to her ankles on Monday and, after retiring in the semi-finals at Roehampton, was obviously not 100 percent.
Scott was not the only 15-year-old to pick up her first junior slam win, with Robin Montgomery also getting into the win column with a 6-4 7-6(5) decision over Marta Custic of Spain.
Montgomery had lost to Custic 6-1 6-1 last November, but the powerful left-hander was able to turn the tables and prevail on the key points to advance.
“I wanted to cry,” said the American. “Wasn’t a brilliant match but it feels really good. I played her back in November and let’s just say it was not my best match! So, I was going to the match with nothing to lose since she had the pressure of beating me easily before.”
Montgomery has a smooth and technical lefty game, with a big serve, supreme power and a rare love of the net.
She led Custic by a set and 4-2 before the match got complicated.
As she neared the finish line, the victory brought flashbacks – of her loss in the first round of the French Open to Kamila Bartone where she fell from an identical position, of the set earlier where she had squandered a break.
Her mind ran amok and she barely edged out the set.
“I need to work on staying in the moment and not having flashbacks.” she said, smiling.
A year ago, Montgomery, who hails from Washington D.C. and trains alongside her good friend Frances Tiafoe, was playing U14 events and only just adjusting to the top level of junior events on home soil.
She made her first significant breakthrough in Japan last October, where she reached the quarter-finals of the Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup and then rolled all the way to the final of the Grade 2 in Nagoya.
Her ranking rose hundreds of spots but she was not a happy traveller.
“It was actually a pretty dark trip,” she says, shaking her head sadly, recalling the tiredness, the grind and the routines and wanting to go home.
“To be honest with you, I was crying every night, I was calling my mum, telling them [to let] me go home. I was calling my coach, I was like’ put me on a plane home.’ I was like ‘I’m not playing!’” she says. Then she laughs sadly.
The feeling came again this February when Montgomery was drafted for a 3-week trip to Brazil for the Grade A tournament in Porto Alegre, but this time, despite her age, she realised that she had the power to make her own decisions, or at least to influence them. She said ‘no’.
“I didn’t want to go on the road not enjoy myself, crying to my mum. I know it doesn’t make her feel good, knowing her daughter is in a different continent crying and stuff.
“So, we said no to that. Then, we had Easter Bowl and Carson. Because I said no to the Brazil tournaments, it put more pressure on me to get more points to make it in the slam.
“My mum was like ‘you gotta go!’ I was like ‘no, I’m not going!’.. mum and coach were not too pleased with me saying no.”
For Montgomery, saying this was a pivotal moment not only in her career, but also in the life of a 14 year old learning how to handle herself in the world.
It taught her to trust her gut and to assert her own autonomy, but it was also a well-delivered message to the adults around her that this is her career and that she should drive it, or at least be part of the decision-making process
“I wanted to make sure I have the choice,” she said. “I think me saying no, it told my mum and coach that I also have a say. And I’m not gonna let USTA or my coach or my mum just send me places to play tournaments.”
It was an impressive show of maturity and self-assurance from a fourteen year old.
Elli Mandlik, the daughter of 4-Grand Slam title winner Hana Mandlikova, took out the 9th seed Mananchaya Sawangkaew of Thailand by a 6-7(2) 7-5 11-9 score, saving 2 match points serving at 8-9, 15-40 in the process.
Mandlik had squandered a match point of her own serving for the match at 7-6 in the 3rd, and had another chance to serve it out at 8-7, but couldn’t manage to shake Sawangkaew, who raised her game when she was behind.
The American managed another break, after Sawangkaew went up 40-15 serving at 9-all, but Mandlik broke and, on her 3rd opportunity, served out the 2-hour and 50 minute match.
Qualifier Charlotte Owensby earned her first junior slam win, with the 16-year-old beating Savit Kimchi of Israel 6-2 6-2, and Roehampton finalist Alexa Noel, the No 10 seed this week, sliced and diced her way to a 6-4 6-4 win over qualifier Amarissa Toth of Hungary.
Eight of the 16 girls seeds are already out, but the top four have all advanced to Tuesday’s second round, with No 4 seed Diane Parry of France beating Darja Semenistaja of Latvia, 6-3 6-3.
Top 3 seeds Emma Navarro, Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia and Qinwen Zheng of China advanced with wins on Saturday.