While the rest of her fellow students at Arroyo Grande High School were busy in classes Tuesday, junior Delanie Dunkle was in the North County sun playing in her first professional tennis tournament.
“It’s going to be fun to tell everyone at school what I did today,” Dunkle said after her doubles match.
Dunkle, 16, teamed up with Nipomo native and Gonzaga University junior Sophie Whittle for a doubles match at the first annual Central Coast Pro Tennis Open, a USTA Pro Circuit tournament taking place this week at the Templeton Tennis Ranch. The two local players were granted a wild card into the tournament and lost in the opening round to Hanna Chang and Lorraine Guillermo, 6-3, 6-3.
“We didn’t get much practice before, and it was our first time ever playing together,” said Whittle, an Arroyo Grande High School graduate. “It was fun to play an experienced team like that.”
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Dunkle, who is the top junior girls tennis player in the area and a two-sport star at Arroyo Grande, took the loss in stride.
“This makes me want to go out and work that much harder so that hopefully one day I’ll be out here regularly,” Dunkle said.
Play will continue through Sunday in the tournament that features some up-and-coming women’s professional tennis players, including Americans Sonya Kenin and Louisa Chirico.
Kenin, 18, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, advanced to the third round at the U.S. Open earlier this month. She eventually lost a night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium to Maria Sharapova. Kenin is ranked No. 112 in the world and is the No. 2 seed in the Templeton tournament. Other top players competing for the $60,000 purse include Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic (No. 106), Canada’s Francoise Abanda (No. 122) and Great Britain’s Naomi Broady (No. 135).
The doubles final will be at 1 p.m. Sunday followed by the singles final. In total, 74 matches will be played over eight days. Admission is free during the week’s early rounds. On Friday night, Saturday and Sunday for the semifinals and finals, tickets are $10, or fans can purchase a three-day pass for $25. Children 12 and under are free.
Dunkle will return to the Arroyo Grande tennis team this week as the Eagles go for their eighth undefeated league season in a row. Whittle, who was also granted the local singles wild card, played her first-round match Wednesday against Francoise Abanda, the No. 3 seed from Canada, who is currently ranked No. 114 in the WTA World Tour rankings.
Whittle, who had an unblemished 121-0 league record to go along with four PAC 8 championships and four league MVP honors at Arroyo Grande, will be in Pacific Palisades where she is entered in this weekend’s ITA Women’s All-American, one of college tennis’ four Grand Slams.