STOCKTON,CALIF. – The singles semifinals picture became clear at the USTA Stockton Challenger on Friday, with Japan’s Kimiko-Date Krumm and Nao Hibino earning spots in the final four along with No. 1 overall seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and American Sanaz Marand.
The doubles final matchup was also decided on Friday, as two American teams will tangle for the tournament championship.
Date-Krumm won three matches in a single tournament for the first time this year, dispatching Danielle Lao by a score of 6-3, 6-1 as she continues to show that her comeback bid is no fluke.
Date-Krumm will attempt to become amongst the oldest champions on the USTA Pro Circuit at the age of 44.
In other singles action, Marand took down American Melanie Oudin, who was also on the comeback trail, competing for the first time in eight months after being sidelined with health issues.
Oudin’s stay in Stockton ended Friday as Marand took a pair of 6-2 victories to advance to the semifinals.
Marand moves into the pole position for the US Open Wild Card Challenge, as she is the last remaining American in singles competition at the Stockton Challenger.
Stockton is the first of three consecutive women’s hard-court tournaments (joining $50,000 events in Sacramento, Calif., and Lexington, Ky.) that are part of the US Open Wild Card Challenge, which will award a men’s and women’s wild card into the 2015 US Open based on USTA Pro Circuit results.
Elsewhere, Top-seeded Mestach got past seventh-seeded Mayo Hibi with a pair of 7-5 victories and fifth-seeded Hibino bested Amandine Hesse of France in two sets, 6-1, 6-2.
In doubles play, two American teams to face each other in the final as Danielle Lao and Kaitlyn Christian dispatched the No.
2 seeded pair of Naomi Broady of Great Britain and Hesse 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the finals while Jamie Loeb and Marand, the fourth-seeded team bested the pairing of Emily Webley-Smith of Great Britain and Hibino.
The day sets up an exciting Saturday at the Hal Nelson Tennis Courts as Hibino, the fifth overall seed, will take on Marand before Date-Krumm and Mestach do battle.
A Wheelchair Tennis exhibition will then take place before an All-American doubles final between the pair of Loeb, the reigning NCAA Singles champion at North Carolina and former Tarheel Marand and the pair of former USC Trojan teammates in Lao and Christian.