Sunday, November 8, 2020

Ex-Fresno State star coasts to $100K Charleston title

   Grunting loudly while ripping groundstrokes, qualifier Maiar Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz rolled to by far the biggest title of her budding career today.
   The former Fresno State All-American dominated unseeded Katarzyna Kawa 6-2, 6-3 on clay in the $100,000 LTP Tennis in Charleston, S.C. Sherif, a 24-year-old Egyptian, won the last four games of each set against the 27-year-old Pole.
   Sherif avenged a loss to Kawa in Saturday's doubles final to win her ninth ITF (minor-league) singles title but first above the $25,000 level. She will jump 32 places to a career-high No. 132 on Monday. 
   Sherif reached the NCAA doubles quarterfinals in 2016 as a Fresno State sophomore with her sister Rana before transferring to Pepperdine and advancing to the NCAA singles semifinals in 2018 as a senior.
   In 2019, Sherif captured six singles titles, including four in a row en route to 26 consecutive victories. She recently became the first Egyptian woman to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, qualifying for the French Open. Facing former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the first round of the main draw at Roland Garros, Sherif saved eight set points to win the opening set before falling 6-4 in the third set. Pliskova played with a left-thigh injury.
   Kawa will rise 18 spots to a career-high No. 112. She reached the final of a clay-court tournament in Jurmala, Latvia, on the elite WTA Tour in July last year as a qualifier and made her Grand Slam debut in this year's U.S. Open, losing to 27th-seeded Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (6) in the opening round.
   Sherif, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), has an impressive all-around game featuring a punishing forehand, strong two-handed backhand, consistent serve, deft drop shot, willingness to come to the net and tenacity. 
   "Sherif is very impressive in terms of her intensity from the first ball, even from the warmup," tournament director Patrick Hieber said during the live-stream broadcast of the final. "Some people might say it's a little too much, but she is who she is, and she is really maximizing her game right now. She plays every point like a match point, and that's a great skill to have as an athlete."
   The final began with five service breaks on a windy day. Sherif then found her rhythm, holding her serve the rest of the match.
   The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Kawa, however, lost her serve all four times in the first set and six of nine times overall. She committed five double faults, including two in a game twice and two on break points. 
   Sherif jumped all over Kawa's creampuff second serve, winning 82 percent of those points.
   Kawa didn't fare much better during rallies, although there were some long exchanges. She screamed in frustration after committing unforced errors, slapped her head after a miscue late in the match and sprawled on the court to retrieve a drop shot.  
   Sherif broke serve at love in the final game. On her first championship point, she ran around Kawa's second serve and slugged a forehand passing shot. 
   Sherif collected $15,239 for winning the title, and Kawa pocketed $8,147 as the runner-up.

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