Before last week, Brooke Austin had not won on the ITA Pro Circuit. And Hilton Head Island's Nadja Gilchrist hadn't played in a pro tournament since 2008.
All that changed last week when Gilchrist won eight matches as a qualifier to reach the final of the $10,000 USTA Palmetto Pro Open in Sumter. There she faced Austin, who ended her streak of five straight losses in event finals with a 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-1 win over the Smith Stearns product.
Both will be on the court at the same event this week when the main draw of the ITF Head/First Federal $10,000 tournament starts Tuesday at the Van Der Meer Tennis Center on Hilton Head Island.
The top-seeded player in the event is 18-year-old Belgian Elise Mertens, who is ranked 436th in the world. Gilchrist upset her in the round of 16 last week on her way to the final.
In addition to 24 players and 16 qualifiers, there are 16 doubles teams set to take the court when play begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The event is free and open to the public.
ITF Head/First Federal Women's $10,000
Tuesday through Sunday, Van Der Meer Tennis Center
Note: Tournament is free and open to the public
1. Elise Mertens (Belgium)
2. Sonja Molnar (Canada)
3. Brooke Austin (USA)
4. Liudmila Vasilyeva (Russia)
5. Jan Abaza (USA)
6. Lauren Albanese (USA)
7. Caitlin Whoriskey (USA)
8. Angelina Gabueva (Russia)