Garcia flies to WTA Finals crown — Also, VOTE!!!! — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Nov. 8, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, but more importantly for our American readers, Happy Election Day!

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Vote — Please

So much is at stake not only federally, but at your local level. There have been many Election Days where people suggest to “vote like your life depends on it.” We’re long past the hyperbole — it’s in front of us, clear as day.

The woman’s right to choose, the right to marry your loved one, future judge appointees and more are at stake. Please, please, please, get your voter information and check out all of your ballot from the top down. If you don’t have a ride to the poll, Lyft is offering 50% off up to $10 in ride credits to help you get to the polls. All you have to do is use the code VOTE22 in the Lyft app.

Now, lets talk the WTA Finals, who had their championship matches last night with Caroline Garcia playing some stunning tennis to oust Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6(4), 6-4.

It capped an incredible resurgence for Garcia, who started the year ranked No. 74 and was barely in the Top 60 after Roland Garros. Titles across three surfaces, including the WTA 1000 in Cincinnati saw the Frenchwoman find herself in her second WTA Finals. Her previous experience came in clutch when she battled Daria Kasatkina for a semifinal berth and ended up winning in a third-set tiebreak on an incredible match point.

What’s even more impressive is that on the eve of Fort Worth, she split with her coach Bertrand Perret. Still, Garcia produced some impressive shotmaking to take out both Kasatkina and Jessica Pegula to reach the semis. She did one better than her 2017 showing by dismantling Maria Sakkari before facing Sabalenka, who stunned Iga Swiatek in the other semifinal.

While I predicted the “veterans” of the WTA Finals to go deep, I do wonder if this will be a launching pad to the next step — especially for Garcia and Sabalenka. A WTA Finals crown was immediately followed up by Grand Slam glory the following year for both Amelie Mauresmo and Ashleigh Barty. That being said, there are plenty of non-Slam champs who captured the WTA Finals as their biggest title. It’s not always a guarantee.

I’m excited to see where this result takes Garcia, who seems to have a handle on the pressures of being France’s top player. She’s shown this year alone how her game is suited for all surfaces and she doesn’t have a lot of points to defend the first half of the season. A push into the Top 3 wouldn’t be the worst prediction.

In doubles, Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudermetova stunned defending champions and top seeds Katerina Sinakova and Barbora Krejcikova. Down 2-7 in the match tiebreaker, they won 9 of the next 11 points to capture the biggest title of their career. It was nice to see Kudermetova, the first alternate in singles and didn’t get to play, get court time and leave with a trophy.

Before we head onto links, here’s your year-end Top 10! It’s mighty interesting to see that only 4 of 2021’s final Top 10 remained. Who do you see staying in there a year from now? And no, you can’t say Iga.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

A year ago, Peng Shuai bravely shared she was the victim of sexual assault by a high-ranking Chinese political officer. She then went missing and the lack of transparency — and civil investigation — led to the WTA pulling out of China, their biggest benefactor. WTA CEO Steve Simon discussed where the tour stands and unfortunately, there’s no real update. He did also delve into some other updates the WTA is doing including their coaching initiative to get more female coaches on tour.

This week’s must-read is this feature on IX alum Giuliana Olmos, who is representing both the University of Southern California and Mexico proudly on tour. Another good doubles read is on Demi Schuurs, who proudly reps the LGBTQ community on the WTA’s biggest stage.

Caty McNally captured the biggest title of her career at the Dow Tennis Classic. She defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam to win the WTA 125 event and finally crack the Top 100. IX alum Asia Muhammad won the doubles title for the second consecutive year — this time with Alycia Parks over Friedsam and Nadiia Kichenok. After her win, it was announced that McNally will be replacing Jessica Pegula for this week’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Massive apologies to both Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula for jinxing them in last week’s Tennis Tuesday. They both went winless in singles and as a team in doubles, but they aim to bounce back in 2023.

Iga Swiatek’s semifinal loss ended one of the best seasons of the century, but the World No. 1 was able to reflect on an incredible run.

Cara Black won the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s fan vote for the second year in a row, gaining some extra points to hopefully push the doubles legend into Newport.

This Coco Gauff clip had me in stitches between the mic grab and “it’s corn!”

Ashleigh Barty misses the competition, but not the tour itself. Don’t expect another comeback from the future Hall of Famer, as she opens up about the Foundation she’s building and staying busy in retirement.

On the collegiate side of tennis, Fiona Crawley is the one to beat. The North Carolina Tar Heel won her second national collegiate title of the year at the ITA National Fall Championship. Thus far, she’s 17-0 and has only dropped two sets. The doubles title went to Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen of Pepperdine while the singles and doubles consolation titles went to Duke’s Chloe Beck and Arizona State’s Patricija Spaka and Domenika Turkovic, respectively.

Diede de Groot continues to dominate on the wheelchair circuit, capturing the singles and doubles titles at the NEC Wheelchair Masters.

The running joke of the week wasn’t Where’s Waldo, but Where’s Barbora Krejcikova?

The United States won the Junior Billie Jean King Cup for a record 7th time thanks to the dominant trio of and Valerie Glozman, Iva Jovic and Clervie Ngounoue.

Chris Evert was on hand throughout the week in Fort Worth on the 50th anniversary of her capturing the first WTA Finals:

Armed with her younger sister Amanda in tow, Maria Sakkari found herself playing some fantastic tennis to not only qualify for the WTA Finals, but find herself in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Tweet of the Week

Throwing it back to Andy Murray’s prediction when Caroline Garcia first made waves taking a set from Maria Sharapova in 2011:

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon