To her credit, Emma Navarro refused to go quietly.
The Ashley Hall senior and rising international tennis star fell to Russia’s Oksana Selekhmeteva, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, in the second round of the U.S. Junior Open Tuesday in New York City.
Facing elimination, down 5-0 in the deciding third set, Navarro came alive with wins in the next four straight games and get back on serve. It was a valiant late rally and a glimpse of the dominance she showed a day prior, the same prowess she’s become known for — that which earned her the tournament’s top seed.
Navarro put away Hong Kong’s Hong Yi Cody Wong, 6-0, 6-3, in the opening round on Monday.
Navarro was especially sharp in an opening set that only lasted 22 minutes. She committed just four unforced errors to her 10 winners and collected 71 percent of her first-serve points.
Wong took the opening two games of the second set. She won 55 percent of her first serves in the second after managing just 29 in the first. Longer games led to more unforced errors by Navarro, who committed 17 in the second set, 10 coming on backhand ground strokes. Even still, Navarro dictated play much of the set, eventually pulling even at 3-3 before taking the next three games to close the match.
Key rallies set the tone in all three sets of Navarro’s loss to Selekhmeteva. The two teenagers traded the first four games of their opening set before the Russian gained control with three straight wins. Navarro won four of the first five games in the second set. Her first serve improved and she was better on both break points and receiving points with more winners on way to evening the match.
Despite the early exit, the opportunity alone to play in New York City in Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is another invaluable experience in Navarro’s standout season. The 18-year-old made the doubles finals of the Junior French Open in June, then reached the singles semifinals at Wimbledon juniors in July after already winning the Easter Bowl National Championships in the spring.