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Florence Open Womens USTA Pro Tournament

October 25, 2013 09:37 AM

The third day of main draw play at the Florence Open produced some exceptional competition.  In Thursday evening’s featured doubles match, Mariana Duque-Marino and her partner Catalina Castano, both from Colombia, fell behind then fought back to post a 1-6, 6-4, [10-1] win over Asia Muhammad, from San Diego, California and Louisa Chirico from Harrison, New York.  The match carried extra drama because the unseeded Duque-Marino, who won last’s year’s Florence tournament and was seeded #1 this year, was knocked out of singles competition yesterday by Muhammad.  Duque-Marino and Castano are both accomplished tour players.  Castano has reached the second round in three of the four Grand Slams, and earlier this year Duque-Marino knocked Maria Sharapova out of Wimbledon.

Even though they lost today, Both Muhammad and Chirico are rising stars.  Muhammad, who is 22, won her second Pro Circuit singles title in Raleigh earlier this year.  Chirico, at 17, is considered a top college prospect and will soon have to choose between one of the top schools and a life on the WTA tour.  In 2012, she took the singles title at the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in nearby Sumter.  Despite her doubles loss, Muhammad is still alive in singles, having defeated local favorite Sanaz Marand earlier today, 6-2, 6-3.untitled

Most of seeded singles players advanced today.  Michelle Larcher de Brito, the #2 seed from Lisbon, Portugal, fought back from a one set deficit to defeat Jennifer Elie of Brooklyn, New York, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.  Madison Brengle from Dover, Delaware, the #3 seed, took out Ulrikki Eikeri of Oslo, Norway in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.  Number 4 seed Anna Tatishvili, from the Republic of Georgia routed Josie Kuhlman from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 6-1, 6-1.  The #5 seed Julia Cohen, a University of Florida player from Philadelphia, lost in three sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 to Adriana Perez of Anzoategui, Venezuala.  

The #6 seed, Colombian Catalina Castano, moved on with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jaqueline Cako of Seattle, Washington.  Number 8 seed, Petra Rampre from Slovakia, battled back to take the second set against Christina Makarova from San Diego California, but could not hold on and lost in three, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2.

In doubles play American Kristi Boxx and New Zealand native Abigail Guthrie took out Ulrike Eikere of Norway and Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico 7-5, 6-0.  Josie Kuhlman and Kaitlyn McCarthy, both from the US, defeated Elitsa Kostova from Bulgaria and Catalina Pella from Argentina 3-6, 6-4, [10-6].  Madison Brengle and Anamika Bhargava, another American team, beat Martina Borecka and Tereza Martincova of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 5-7, [10-7].

The Open added another element today—worldwide real-time radio broadcasts.  For the rest of the week, Ken Thomas, CEO of California-based Radio Tennis will be sitting courtside reporting the action to a global audience of tennis enthusiasts.  Ken, a former advertising and marketing executive who played collegiate tennis at Wisconsin and has won US amateur titles in two different age groups, started Radio Tennis in 2003 to bring something different to tennis broadcasting.  He tries, he says, “to paint a visual picture of the match and its surroundings for the listener.”  His goal is to make his listeners feel comfortable and engaged, “as if they're sitting next to me having a beer and sharing a good time.”  His unique format includes no commercials, and during breaks he plays music popular with his global audience, usually the work of American blues artists like B.B. King.  “The world,” Ken says, “seems to enjoy it.”  Ken’s broadcasts from the Floyd Tennis Center can be found at

One feature that helps make Florence a popular stop for the young women on the tour is the food.  Unlike many tour events, the Florence Open provides a number of evening meals.  On Tuesday night, in conjunction with the opening ceremonies, the City hosted “A Taste of Florence,” that featured first rate cuisine from a number of Florence restaurants.  Wednesday’s evening meal was presented by the Sundae House and tonight’s by Fatz Café.  

On Friday, the Florence Tennis Association will provide a barbeque dinner where local tennis fans will meet and dine with the pros.  The casual affair, set for 6:30 pm after the day’s feature match, is open to all current FTA members, but other area residents can join on the spot.  The Southern style meals have been a hit with the visiting pros.  One young competitor commented that the meals have been excellent and great contribution to her tight travel budget.

Match play resumes tomorrow morning at 11:00 am and continues throughout the day.  In singles, # 3 seed Madison Brengle will take on Petra Rampre in the first match at 11:00 am, and the #4 and #6 seeds, Anna Tatashvili and Catalino Castano will square off at noon.  Asia Muhammad, who has been impressive in all of her matches to date, will probably take the court between 12:00 and 1:30 pm.  Her opponent will be Ukranian Katernya Yergina.  The featured singles match, which will begin no earlier than 5:00 pm, will spotlight #2 seed Michelle Larcher de Brito from Portugal against Adriana Perez of Venezuela.  Doubles matches tomorrow afternoon will spotlight Boxx and Guthrie versus Kuhlman and McCarthy and Castano and Duque-Marino versus Bhargava and Brengle.         

With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 34 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide.  Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Querrey, Li Na and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. 

This year there are 44 women’s pro circuit events.  Because of our great weather and excellent facilities, five of them are in South Carolina.  The Florence Open, with its $25,000 purse, is one of the largest of these and the last tour event of the year.  We can expect to see some of the young women who play here in the tennis Grand Slams in the next few years.

The draw and order of play can be found here:



Order of Play