Courtesy Jeff Steed
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Team USA cruised into the semi-finals by the score of 3-1 against the Netherlands.
In a sold-out crowd that drew in more than 10,000 fans in just two days, USA opened their title defense in Asheville.
Day one was comprised of two singles matches. Venus Williams in her 1,000th career singles match dominated Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-4 to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. With USA having the momentum, CoCo Vandeweghe needed a strong comeback to win the second singles match. CoCo, the 17th ranked player on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, looked down after losing 7 straight games. Down a set and a break, CoCo staged a huge comeback. She managed to hit 5 winners in the second set tiebreak while cruising in the third set. Vandeweghe made it 2-0 for the U.S after defeating 108th ranked Richel Hogenkamp 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.
“I’d probably chalk it up to rust,” Vandeweghe said, “I haven’t played a competitive match in quite a few weeks, so I’m definitely not going to be perfect out there, no matter how much I’d like myself to be.”
Day two was a special one for eager tennis fans as they awaited Serena Williams’ return.
The clincher that sent the U.S. to the semi-finals came from Venus Williams. Williams, who was playing for the second day in a row, took on a scrappy Richel Hogenkamp. Hogenkamp wouldn’t go away quietly as she battled her way in the first set. Williams broke serve late in the first set to take it 7-5. In the second set, Williams found her groove as she won the final five games to win 6-1.
With a 3-0 lead, the Netherlands spoiled Serena Williams’ return. Williams is playing in her first competition since giving birth in September. Not having played since winning the 2017 Australian Open, Williams couldn’t shake off the rust.
Serena teamed up with sister Venus Williams to take on the team of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs. The Netherlands duo seemed to be too tough as they downed the Williams Sisters’ 6-2, 6-3.
“I didn’t manage my time well, but I was thinking about it in the future how to manage it better,” Serena said.
The United States is back in action in late April to take on France who defeated Belgium by the score of 3-2.