Sports

Barte is just getting started on the WTA Tour

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Hilary Barte's first professional appearance at the Bank of the West Classic didn't go her way, but she still felt right at home playing on a familiar court Monday night.

"Turning pro was a little anti-climatic," Barte said. "I just wrote a 'P' next to name and I was a professional."

Barte, who won her second consecutive NCAA doubles title with Mallory Burdette less than two months ago (she won with Lindsay Burdette in 2010), dropped a 7-5, 6-4 decision to Chinese Taipei's Kai-Chen Chang in the first round at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center on the same court.

"It definitely feels different," Barte said. "Even though I played here four years it felt a little bit foreign."

Some things never change for Barte though. She recorded a service ace and did not double fault during the match. She was successful on 76 percent of her first serves and won 61 percent of her service points as she played in her third Bank of the West.

Barte did not fare as well against Chang's serve, particularly after taking a 5-2 lead in the first set against the 20-year-old. Chang won 85 percent of her first serve points, putting Barte on defense.

"I was having a tough time reading her serve," Barte said. "I was OK physically but, I think, mentally I started thinking about the future too much and it caught up to me."

Barte was Stanford's No. 1 player all four years and helped the Cardinal win a national team title in 2010 and led Stanford to the championship match on May 24, losing to Florida, 4-3, in a match that ended the Cardinal record-setting home winning streak at 184 matches.

Barte finished with a 139-29 record in singles play and 122-34 in doubles play.

The end of her college career, however, is merely the beginning of her professional career. She hopes to take her modest 3-2 mark as a pro and play later this summer at tournaments in Vancouver, Carlsbad, and, hopefully, the U.S. Open.

Her professional career got its start in Lexington, Ky., last week. She won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw, where she lost.

"I enjoyed it," Barte said. "There's more of an attitude to take tennis seriously and to be more disciplined. I hope to be better in critical situations. Watching the women play it seems I have to be aggressive. I can't be passive."

Elsewhere, fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia each won in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic on Monday night.

Radwanska beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-2, while Cibulkova held on to beat Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7).

The 14th-ranked Radwanska is looking for her first WTA Tour title in three years and is enjoying a solid season to date. She reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the fourth round of the French Open and the second round at Wimbledon.

The 19th-ranked Cibulkova made her first appearance since reaching the quarterfinals in Wimbledon. She won for the eighth time in 10 matches and has not lost more than two matches in a row all season.

"It's not easy to play Kimiko," Cibulkova said. "She's a tough opponent. In the first set, I just played aggressively like I should and was going for my shots. In the second set, I started to be more careful with my returns and she was more in the game."

Cibulkova nearly let the match get away, falling behind in the second set before forcing a tie-break. She fell behind 5-1 before rallying for the victory.

"I'm a player who really needs to control my emotions," Cibulkova said. "I went a little crazy once I lost my serve at 6-6. Throughout the whole tiebreaker, I was off a little bit but I just tried to focus 100 percent."

American Christina McHale, who reached her best ranking at No. 65 this week, beat Mirjana Lucic, 6-1, 6-0 and advanced to the second round in her fourth straight tournament. She won an ITF title in Rome two months ago.

McHale, the youngest player in the main draw, meets the winner of a later match between No. 8 seed Dominika Cibulkova and Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest player in the main draw.

Canadian Rebecca Marino topped American Coco Vandeweghe, 6-4, 6-4, in another match. She'll play No. 3 seed Marion Bartoli in the second round.

Tuesday Schedule of Play

Singles

Stadium

Simona Halep vs. Sabine Lisicki, 11 a.m.

Ayumi Morita vs. Ana Ivanovic

Julia Goerges vs. Maria Kirilenko

Rika Fujiwara vs. Daniela Hantuchova

Serena Williams vs. Anastasia Rodionova, not before 7 p.m.

Court 6

Sofia Arvidsson vs. Marina Erakovic, 11 a.m.

Olga Savchuk vs. Urszula Radwanska

Doubles

Stadium

Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Azarenka-Kirilenko, not before 4 p.m.

U. Radwanska-Savchuk vs. Goerges-Zahlavova Strycova

Court 6

Cibulkova/Date-Krumm vs. Chang-Sun, not before 1:30 p.m.

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