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Stephens Continues to Move Forward

Charles E. Sutton | , WI Staff Writer | 7/31/2012, 9:53 p.m.

Sloane Stephens is considered one of America's brightest young tennis stars. The 19-year-old said she was hurt and disappointed last month after she failed to qualify for the final spot on the United States tennis team headed for the Olympic Games in London.

However, she continued to move forward Sunday at the Citi Open at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park when she partnered with Anna Chakvetadze to win an opening round doubles match, 1-6, 6-4, 10-3.

Teaming up for the first time, Stephens and Chakvetadze dropped the first set and trailed in the second, 3-0, to Melinda Czink and Janette Husarova.

"We we're like 'Oh my God, we just have to get a game,'" Stephens said. "Like we need to get a game. This is embarrassing. What's going on?"

Stephens and Chakvetadze came back to win the second set by capturing six of the next seven games. They then won the match by winning the points tiebreaker 10-3, highlighted by a Stephens' lob that landed just inside the sideline.

The pair now moves on to this week's quarterfinals, where they likely will play Kristyna and Karolina Pliskova, the Russian twins who are the second-seeded team in the draw.

Stephens is currently ranked 52nd in the world, and is still chasing her first WTA singles championship. The native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., will play Sesil Karatantcheva in the first round of the singles tournament. She didn't want to focus on her singles draw until her doubles match was completed.

"I've been like trying to figure out who I'd play, because I didn't ask my mom or my coach," Stephens said. "I'm like, well, this person gave me an evil look, so I might play her."

Last month, Stephens elevated her world singles ranking to become the fifth-best American woman after she advanced to the fourth round of the French Open. But the Olympic team only had room for the top four. Thus, Stephens was left off the team.

She wanted very badly to qualify for the Olympic team. She said she "worked as hard as I possibly could to get it." If she had qualified, she would have been the first American teen to play Olympic tennis since 2000, when her close friends, Venus and Serena Williams, won gold medals.

"I regrouped. I'm here. The world is not over. We're still living, everyone's here," Stephens said. "It's not that big of a deal when you think about it and I have no problem watching the Olympics on TV. It's fine."