It was an historic Sunday in Tyler, as 16-year-old American Whitney Osuigwe won the singles title at the RBC Pro Challenge presented by Oak Creek, an $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit event. Osuigwe’s 6-3 6-2 win marks the first professional singles title of her career. Osuigwe, from Brandenton, Florida, got out to an early lead and didn’t look back. A marathon ninth game of the match proved to be pivotal, as Osuigwe saved multiple break points before holding to take first set. She broke serve early in the second set and closed out the match on her first opportunity.
“I just try not to even think about getting nervous,” Osuigwe said. “I know that’s not going to help me; I just try to do the things my coaches and I are working on and have fun with it.”
Osuigwe had a stellar junior career, earning the number one overall ranking as well as capturing multiple junior grand slam titles. In her first full year playing professional tournaments, Osuigwe’s has risen over 800 places in the WTA Rankings. With her win Sunday, she’ll climb to a career high ranking of around 226 in the world.
“It was a really exciting tournament,” she said. “Two weeks ago I wasn’t playing very well, but when I got here I just really loved it and I played amazing all week.”
Osuigwe moves into a tie for first place in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, but due to age restrictions on number of tournaments played, she will not be playing the $80K event in Las Vegas next week. She said that she has might play the WTA $125K series event in Houston to finish the year.
Haddad Maia’s run in Tyler came to an end, but the Brazilian showed a return to form that once earned her a place inside the world’s top 60. After struggling with a back injury for a better part of the lasted year, Haddad Maia took only positives from the tournament.
“My first goal was just to be healthy, for sure,” Haddad Maia said. “I’m improving, playing these challengers and maybe some WTA qualifying events soon. Now I just want to do my best every day and see where it can take me.”
The two competitors played in front of a strong crowd at the Tyler Athletic and Swim Club, with over 350 in attendance, and the match was broadcasted live on Tennis Channel. Both players spoke about how appreciative they were of the crowd support.
“It’s amazing to have a crowd like this, because at most of these level tournaments you don’t get the type of support that we got here in Tyler,” Osuigwe said. “It’s really nice that the whole community comes out to support us.”
Osuigwe earned 115 WTA ranking points and $12,161 in prize money, while Haddad Maia earned 70 ranking points and $6,487 in prize money. Play continues on the USTA Pro Circuit next in week in Las Vegas.