Courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications
STANFORD, Calif. -- If there were any doubts about Connie Hsu's experience coming into the NCAA Individual Championships, the Quakers' freshman showed Wednesday evening that the big stage would not frighten her as she knocked off the fifth overall seed and returning All-American, Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame, in the opening round. Hsu jumped out to the early lead with a 6-4 win in the first set, but Frilling answered with a 6-1 win in the second set.
In the decisive third set, it was the freshman Hsu who showed the savvy of a veteran as she shook off any disappointment and did not drop a game in the third set on the way to punching her ticket into the Round of 32. On paper, Hsu's victory was the by far the biggest upset in day one of the women's draw as Hsu was the only player able to knock off a top-five player on the first day of the women's draw.
With the victory, Hsu will play in the Round of 32 on Thursday with All-America status on the line. She will meet Lindsey Hardenbergh of Virginia tomorrow. Hardenbergh is ranked 27th in the nation in the latest ITA Rankings. She was straight set (6-2, 7-6) winner over Alex Cercone of Florida in her opening match. Hsu's Round of 32 match will get underway at 3:30 EST.
Before the tournament, Hsu's head coach, Sanela Kunovac, knew that her top player would have to serve well to come away with victories this week and Hsu did just that. In the first and third sets, Hsu won seven of her eight service games. To go along with that, Hsu also broke the Fighting Irish junior five times, including three straight times in the third set. For the match, Hsu converted eight of her 12 opportunities when she was serving for a game. She was also five of 10 in turning break points into game winners.
Frilling jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the first set as she held serve, but Hsu would quickly respond. In her first service game, Hsu gained a 40-30 advantage, but Frilling forced deuce. Nevertheless, Hsu would take the next two points and knot the first set at one game each. Hsu forced a deuce of her own on Frilling's next serve, but the junior would hold. Hsu would then find herself in the early hole as Frilling broke her serve to make the score 3-1.
Already down 3-1 and facing Frilling's third service game, Hsu rallied and earned her first break point of the match. Hsu then tied the first set at three-all when she held serve. However, Hsu was not done yet as she jumped out to a 40-15 advantage on Frilling's next serve and went on to break two points later, taking the lead, 4-3.
In her fourth service game of the first set, Hsu would take all four points, making the score 5-3 and putting her within one game of the first set win. Hsu would force Frilling to play another deuce in her service game, but the Big East Player of the Year would eventually hold her serve. This game only temporarily staved off Hsu's first set victory as she held serve to take the first set, 6-4.
In that first set, Hsu won four of her five service games, while breaking Frilling in two of her five services. When presented with a game point while serving, Hsu converted four of the seven chances. She was also two of five in converting break points in the opening set.
As well as things went in the first set, Frilling turned the tables in the second. Hsu forced deuce in Frilling's opening serve of the second set, but would not be able to break. In the second, it was Frilling who forced deuce and would break to come away with the early 2-0 lead. She extended her lead to 3-0 in the second set as once again the players went to deuce, but the service was held. Frilling then broke Hsu and was up 4-0 in the second. She quickly made that 5-0 when she did not allow a game during her third service of the set.
Hsu and Frilling played their fourth deuce of the second set during Hsu's third service and this time the Quaker freshman would hold, making the score 5-1. When Frilling served to close out the set, the two players played their fifth game that went to deuce, but with the service hold Frilling earned the 6-1 set victory and tied the match at one set a piece.
Although Hsu holding serve at the end of the second set may not have looked like a big deal in the overall scheme of the match, it proved pivotal in the third set as Hsu got to serve first in the set for the only time in the match as a result of holding in the previous set. This serve would give Hsu as a huge bump in confidence. After splitting the first two points in the opening service of the third set, Hsu won the next three points and took the early one game lead in the decisive set. Her confidence just carried over to the next game as she earned a triple break point. After failing to convert on the first two attempts, Hsu converted the third and led 2-0.
Hsu's second service in the set followed the exact same pattern as the first and she quickly was up 3-0 and had put behind her the forgettable second set. From this point on, it was the returning All-American Frilling who began to show signs of frustration as Hsu did not allow a point to Frilling in the Fighting Irish's second service game of the set to jump up 4-0.
When it came time to serve for the third time in the set, Frilling made a last ditch effort to try and get back in the match, taking the game to 30-all, but Hsu won the next two points, making the score 5-0 and placing her on the brink of advancing to the Round of 32. Hsu would leave no doubt as she earned two match points during Frilling's final service. However, she would only need the first as she took the final set 6-0 on a break point, punching her ticket to the second round.
In the final set, Hsu was three of five on break point attempts and a perfect three for three in holding serve when presented with a game point.