Alawi, Kanakova Set to Compete at ITA All-American|
Sept. 27, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova from the South Carolina women's tennis team are set to compete in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif., beginning Saturday.
The ITA/Riviera All-American Championships are the first of three Intercollege Tennis Association Grand Slam tournaments. The second is the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in November and the third is the season-ending NCAA Singles Championship in May.
Alawi and Kanakova will begin play in the pre-qualifying portion of the doubles tournament that features a draw of 32 teams. They will face the team of Ray and Harrison from UCLA in the first round Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Teams that win three matches will move on to the qualifying portion of the tournament. Duos winning Saturday will have to play two matches Sunday in order to advance to qualifying, which starts Tuesday and concludes Wednesday.
Alawi will also compete in singles beginning Tuesday with the qualifying draw. Her No. 63 preseason ranking allowed her to skip pre-qualifying and head straight to the qualifying tournament. Last year, Anya Morgina and Dijana Stojic both won two matches and were one victory away from reaching the main draw of 32 players. South Carolina is looking to have a player in the main draw for the first time since 2000, and Alawi hopes to be that person.
"It's such an honor for me," Alawi said. "I actually played (in the tournament) my sophomore year, but I was not as experienced. Now, I have high expectations and I've been working hard. I'm just going to go out there and have fun and do everything I'm supposed to and listen to (head coach) Kevin (Epley) and just do my best."
Alawi is coming off the Furman Fall Classic, where she defeated the highest ranked player in her career with No. 18 Brynn Boren of Tennessee. She holds a 4-3 record this season in singles play and led the Gamecocks in singles victories last season with 25 while being named the team MVP and second-team All-SEC.
While head coach Kevin Epley has high expectations for Alawi as well, he is still more focused on the progress she and the rest of the team make for the spring. He wants to continue defining Alawi's game and sees the ITA All-American as another steppingstone in doing so.
"We're trying to define her game a little bit differently than what she's used to," Epley said. "She actually made a lot of progress last week in Greenville day to day and those things we as a coaching staff would like to see from her. She wants to be more of a striking player and that's sort of the long-term plan for her. We're going to continue each tournament with that focus and try to improve in that regard from match to match."