University of Hawaii freshman Petra Melounova advanced to the round of 32 in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Texas A&M senior Rachel Pierson on Wednesday in Athens, Ga.
Melounova, the second UH player to qualify for the event, became the first Rainbow Wahine to win a match in the NCAA tournament and will face LSU’s Joana Valle Costa today at 3 a.m. Hawaii time in the second round at Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
“It means a lot to be the first player from UH to get to the second round, but it’s not like the tournament is over,” Melounova said. “I have an early match tomorrow so that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Melounova, the lone Big West representative in the draw and ranked 70th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, endured three weather delays on her way to the upset of Pierson, ranked 16th and a 9-16 seed in the 64-player bracket. Valle Costa is ranked 46th.
Melounova opened the match with a break of Pierson’s serve, aided by consecutive double faults. Lightning in the area forced a 54-minute delay and Pierson earned the break back to tie the set at 4-4. The players traded breaks over the next four games to force a tiebreaker.
Melounova led 5-3 before another eight-minute rain stoppage. She earned double-set point with a cross-court forehand and wrapped up the set two points later.
“I was very aggressive at the beginning of the tiebreak and I was leading 5-2 and I slipped,” Melounova said. “It was kind of unusual because it was a tiebreak and every point maters, we had to stop playing. It was really slippery.”
Melounova raced out with two service breaks to take a 4-0 lead in the second set. Pierson recovered to get both back to close to 4-3. But Melounova answered with a break and held serve to advance.