With the support of her family and her old prep tennis team, Arroyo Grande High School graduate and Gonzaga junior Sophie Whittle pulled off a shocking upset Wednesday in the first round of the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open in Templeton with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed Francoise Abanda.
“I have no idea what I just did; I’m just shaking,” Whittle said after the match. “I think I played the best I’ve ever played, or at least the smartest I’ve ever played. After I let the nerves go away after the first couple of games, I felt a little bit better, and I just told myself I could do it.”
Whittle, a Nipomo native, earned a local wild-card spot in the USTA Pro Circuit tournament and captured her first WTA point in her debut professional tournament with her win over Abanda, who is currently ranked No. 114 in the WTA Tour Rankings.
“I felt like I went in pretty well prepared, and I think she thought she would roll over me because I don’t have any (ranking) points,” Whittle said. “But I just knew I could beat anyone.”
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Whittle’s unlikely tournament run came to an end in the second round Thursday night against Great Britain’s Laura Robson, but she once again put up a valiant effort against a more experienced counterpart. Whittle took the 249th-ranked Robson to a tiebreaker in the first set before falling 7-6, 6-0.
Last season at Gonzaga, Whittle was named First-Team All-West Coast Conference in singles and doubles and enters this season ranked as the No. 89 college tennis player in the nation, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.