Sibly toughs out wins at tennis tournament

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

When Malissa Sibly headed onto the Howard Mast tennis courts for her semifinal match in the Virginia 12-and-under tennis tournament on Monday afternoon, the odds were stacked against her.

Not only was the Virginia Beach 12-year-old tired from defeating Windsor’s Kari Pope 6-3, 6-0, but she now had to battle top-ranked Michelle Meadows. If that wasn’t bad enough, the August sun was beating down on the players, raising temperatures past 100 degrees.

Sibly fought her way through the first set, but Meadows pulled away at the end, defeating her 7-5.

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&uot;I was discouraged and up-set,&uot; said Sibly. &uot;I’d lost to her twice before, and I didn’t want to let her walk all over me.&uot;

The second set was just as intense, but Sibly managed to even the odds, defeating Meadows 7-5. At this point, tournament officials, citing the heat and the players’ youth, decided to alter the rules for the third section. Rather than a full-length set, the match would be decided by a 12-point tiebreaker.

Sibly wasn’t to be denied, defeating Meadows 7-5 to move to the tournament final. &uot;I was so relieved after that,&uot; she said. &uot;But I’m not worried about the heat tomorrow, because I’ve played in a lot hotter temperatures.&uot;

She’ll have some tough competition in the final: Richmond resident Katherine Blow, who defeated Hannah Hill 6-2, 6-0 and Sally Goode, 6-1, 6-3.

&uot;I was nervous because I didn’t know who I’d be playing,&uot; said Blow, who won the Virginia Clay Court championships in Richmond two weeks ago and a satellite tournament in Virginia Beach over the weekend.

Suffolk has one representative left in the finals: 12-year-old Kunal Kapoor, who defeated top-ranked Josh Ranowsky 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

&uot;I felt like I could come back (after losing the first set),&uot; said the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy student, &uot;because I’d been behind 5-0 and won four straight games. But he was really good, so I never counted him out until the last ball went out.&uot; Kapoor with take on Richmond’s Kyle Parker in the finals today.

Competition begins at 9 a.m. today.