ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The money is in singles play.
So is most of the media attention, fan support and attention from the players themselves.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of excitement in doubles play at the ColemanVision Tennis Championships at Tanoan Country Club.
“They’re really two completely different sports,” Allie Will said Thursday after she and doubles partner Asia Muhammad advanced to today’s doubles semifinals. “I like both doubles and singles, but with doubles the stress isn’t the same. It’s fun because you have somebody to talk to – talk strategy with or laugh at each other’s stupid mistakes. It’s a lot more relaxing.”
Muhammad, who won last year’s doubles title in Albuquerque with then-partner Ysmin Schnack, said if you can build good chemistry with a partner, the doubles game can sometimes allow better play.
“In doubles, you’re laughing, and you have somebody else with you if you’re getting stressed to talk you through it,” Muhammad said. “You can keep your focus better sometimes when you have someone there with you keeping your mind right.”
Muhammad, the older sister of recent NBA draft pick and ex-UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad, thinks she and Will have that chemistry. (The fact that both stand 5-feet-10 and are almost impossible to get a ball past when at the net doesn’t hurt, either.) Muhammad hopes they both break into the WTA women’s Top 100 rankings after this tournament (Muhammad is currently No. 103, and Will is 104).
The Will/Muhammad duo, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, beat Sanaz Marand and Ashley Weinhold 6-4, 2-6, 10-7 on Thursday, and are scheduled to play No. 3 seed CoCo Vandeweghe and Eleni Daniilidou today at 4 p.m.
Both of those teams are gunning for the No. 1-seeded duo of Irini Falconi and Anna Tatishvili, 7-6, 6-2 quarterfinal winners over Maria-Fernanda Alves and Lenka Wienerova.
“It’s definitely more relaxing in doubles because you have someone there to communicate with if you’re getting stressed out,” Falconi said.
Falconi (92) and Tatishvili (88) are the only two players ranked in the top 100 for doubles players in Monday’s updated rankings by the WTA. They play Kristina Barrois and Amra Sadikovic in a Saturday semifinal.
ATTENDANCE: Tournament officials said through Wednesday there were 518 fans who had attended this year’s event. That is up “roughly 20 percent” over last year’s tournament, according to media coordinator Cee Ann Vaughan.
Sunday was the busiest day with 175 fans attending the first day of qualifying, though it is estimated Thursday’s crowd may have improved on that number, though attendance figures for Thursday weren’t available Thursday night.
EASY GOING: Eighteen-year-old Sachia Vickery has probably had the most unusual and easiest trip through the first two rounds of the main draw.
After winning three matches in the qualifying draw, Vickery beat alternate Jillian O’Neill 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday morning after the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Michelle Larcher De Brito, failed to show up to the court on time for the match and was disqualified.
It didn’t hurt that O’Neill was the foe Vickery beat 6-3, 6-2 the day before to qualify for the main draw.
On Wednesday, Vickery earned a “walkover” win to advance to the quarterfinals when her foe, Jessica Pagula, withdrew because of an ankle injury before the match.
That means Vickery, who acknowledged Wednesday the altitude has been bothering her, is in the quarterfinals having lost just three games in the main draw. No other singles quarterfinals lost fewer than 13 games.