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A Wild Wednesday at Westwood

A Wild Wednesday at Westwood


A trio of Americans booked their spots in the ATX Open quarterfinals during Wednesday’s play. 

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens leads the group into the final eight where she is joined by a pair of 21-year-olds – Peyton Stearns and Katie Volynets – who are into their first-ever WTA quarterfinals. 

Stearns, a former UT standout, earned her first WTA match win on Monday night and backed it up with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Mirjam Bjorklund on Wednesday. The 2022 NCAA singles champion, Stearns also helped the Longhorns to a pair of team national championships before turning pro last summer. 

Both Stearns and Bjorklund are past champions of the ITF circuit H-E-B Women’s Pro Tennis Open which is held annually in Austin. 

Volynets advanced to her first career WTA quarterfinal in dramatic fashion Wednesday. The 21-year-old California native dropped the opening set before storming back to win 5-7, 6-2, 7-5. The scoreline alone does not do the comeback justice. 

After leveling the match at a set all, Volynets lost the first five games of the deciding set and faced a match point on her own serve in the sixth game. She then won 27 of the next 32 points to claim seven straight games and secure the victory. 

Stephens has been relatively untested this far, needing just two hours and 48 minutes to get through two matches without dropping a set. On Wednesday, she was a 6-4 6-4 winner over qualifier Heather Watson. 

Joining the Americans in reaching Friday’s quarterfinal is Varavara Gracheva who backed up her three-set upset over top seed Magda Linette with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 victory over Anna Blinkova. Gracheva has reached her second WTA quarterfinal in the past six months.

Setting up the quarterfinals, Stephens and Gracheva have split a pair of previous meetings, with Stephens picking up the victory when the two played just last week in Merida, Mexico. Volynets won her only previous meeting against Stearns, which came in qualifying at an ITF event in Norman, Okla., in 2018.