SOFIA, Bulgaria – The first match of the day for the U.S. Tennis Team was a tale of two generations.
On Monday at the Dema Tennis Center, Laura Chapman, 21, faced the No. 1 women’s singles player, Chinese Taipei’s Chiu-Mei Ho, who is 30 years Chapman's senior.
As the first set began, Chapman immediately found herself in a 0-3 hole before she got back into the game by knotting it up at 3-3. However, Ho was able to strategically place her shots in the right places and won the set.
In the second set, Chapman started off strong, winning the first two games. Ho battled back to win the next five, and Chapman was able to hold serve the next game before eventually losing the second set, 3-6, 3-6.
“Chiu-Mei Ho is definitely a good player, but I felt like I couldn’t find a rhythm and I got a little nervous in the beginning,” Chapman said. “We went straight into the match after our warm-ups and I didn’t get to settle down and get into my mindset. It made a difference, I think.
“I just didn’t keep long rallies and was not creative enough with my shots.”
Chapman’s medal hopes didn’t completely vanish with the loss, though. Later in the day, she and mixed doubles partner Brad Minns defeated Greece’s Vasiliki Kalogeropoulou and Panagiotis Tziakas in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.
Chapman also is alive in the ladies’ doubles with Emily Hangstefer. They are scheduled to play tomorrow against Spanish siblings Beatriz and Raquel Villamandos-Lorenzo.
After Chapman’s loss, Emily Hangstefer, the lone American remaining in women’s singles, had a tall task ahead of her: defeating No. 2 seed Beatriz Villamandos-Lorenzo of Spain.
What followed was an epic match that is unofficially the longest women’s singles match in Deaflympics history.
Hangstefer and Villamandos-Lorenzo battled back and forth, winning their serves. Hangstefer fell in the third set and lost in a heartbreaker, 5-7, 7-5, 5-7.
“I was really disappointed once I sailed that last ball out of bounds to end the game,” Hangstefer said. “It was a great match against a great opponent, too. I had a feeling that I was going to win, and I was really confident today. There weren’t any easy points today and I gave it my all.”
Like Chapman, Hangstefer is not yet out of the picture. Later in the day, in mixed doubles with brother Daniel Hangstefer, the siblings defeated Great Britain’s Peter Willcox and Bethany Brookes, 6-3, 6-4.
Before playing with his sister, Daniel Hangstefer had some business of his own to take care of as the last American standing in men’s singles. He was quickly eliminated, though, losing to No. 2 seed Gabor Mathe of Hungary in straight sets, 2-6, 0-6.
“We fought hard today,” head coach Katie Mancebo said. “We played higher-seed players who had much more experience than we did. Emily played very well but came up short after a three hour long match. Of course we were disappointed in losing all three singles matches though. Now we will focus on doubles.
“I think we have good chances in women’s and mixed doubles; just got to wait and see how it turns out.”
Women’s doubles starts at noon (5 a.m. ET) Tuesday at Dema Tennis Center.
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