Ellicott City's Capra wins first-round match at U.S. Open

Teen advances in main draw at Grand Slam event

August 31, 2010|By Sandra McKee, The Baltimore Sun

Beatrice Capra had seen Court 6 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center before. So when she walked onto that court at the U.S. Open for her first main-draw match at any professional tournament Tuesday, she was not overwhelmed. It was after the match that she was overwhelmed -- with joy.

Capra, who came into the tournament as the No. 371 player in the world, knocked off No.95 Karolina Sprem, 6-1, 6-3, in a tidy 72 minutes on one of the hottest days in the history of the event.

"I'm so excited," the Ellicott City native said on a cell phone while riding the player shuttle back to her hotel. "It was some match. It was pretty hot, the hottest day yet, but I've been training in Florida."

Capra said she also was familiar with the U.S. Open scene.

"I think having played in the U.S. Open Juniors the last couple years helped me," she said. "I'd been to the site, played on the court and dealt with the crowds. So when I went out there, I was really excited and pumped up. This is my first main-draw Grand Slam, and I had a lot of family and friends back home supporting me. When I won the match, I was just like, 'This is unbelievable.' I was definitely surprised. The girl [Sprem] was really good, but I played really well."

Capra's forehands and backhands hit the lines, and her serve was working, too. But her coach, Federico Ricci, a member of The Evert Tennis Academy, where Capra trains in Boca Raton, said the former McDonogh student's success Tuesday came from more than that.

"I didn't anticipate she would win as easily as she did," Ricci said. "But in the second set, when she tightened up a little bit, she handled it. She handled the mental side very well today."

Ricci said Capra's second-round match will be harder. Her next opponent is 18th seed Aravane Rezai of France, who made it to the third round of this year's French Open before being upset.

"It will be very tough," Ricci said. "But if she plays like she did today, if she hits the ball and serves this way, I think she definitely has the game to win."

Capra, 18, still an amateur, said she is just "happy to be playing."

She earned her way into the Open by winning a wild-card qualifying tournament in Boca Raton and said that since she had no expectations of doing that, she could hardly have any here.

"I'm a really competitive person," Capra said. "And I love tennis because it is just me out there. It's all on me. All the pressure. I like it. I don't have to worry about anyone else. But I just came here to do my best and get some experience. I wanted to get a good match in. Now, I'm just going to keep working on my game and keep improving tenniswise."

The one goal Capra did bring with her to New York was to improve her ranking. By the end of the year, she wants to be in the top 50.

"I think my win today did that for me," she said.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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