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Raquel Kops-Jones Reaches First Grand Slam Quarterfinal

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Black Tennis Pro's Raquel Kops-Jones 2008 U.S. OpenWhen you've reached your first Grand Slam quarterfinal after years of toiling away in obscurity, as Fresno native Raquel Kops Jones did Sunday at the U.S. Open, what's the first thought that comes to your mind?

"The semifinals," a smiling Kops-Jones said.

Teaming up with fellow American Abigail Spears, the pair won its third round women's doubles match against the French team of Stephanie Foretz and Camille Pin 6-4, 7-6 (1).

With all four players trying to reach their first quarterfinal in a major, Foretz and Pin appeared tentative while Kops-Jones and Spears attacked the net from the start. The American team won the first eight points and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in less than 20 minutes.

Once Foretz fought off two set points on her serve at 1-5, Kops-Jones and Spears began to spray their ground strokes well beyond the baseline and miss routine put away volleys.

"It was definitely nerves," Kops-Jones said. "They began to establish their presence more as the match progressed, but I definitely let them get into my head."

Foretz and Pin rallied to 4-5 before strong serving from Spears clinched the first set. Despite being up a set, Kops-Jones and Spears never appeared settled as they loudly chastised themselves many times during the match.

"We beat Stephanie two weeks ago when she played with a different partner, so we were aware of how fantastic an opportunity this was for us," Spears said. "We knew that we were capable of winning the match if we served well and executed well."

Down 4-5 in the second set, a winning lob by Foretz gave the French pair two set points on Spears' serve. Spears fought off both with aces, and an overhead winner from Kops-Jones leveled the second set at 5-5.

Both Pin and Kops-Jones held their serves to send the second set into a tiebreaker. Three consecutive winners by Kops-Jones and a volley smash by Spears gave the Americans a commanding 4-1 lead. Moments later, at 6-1, a winning overhead by Kops-Jones clinched the match.

In the quarterfinals, Kops-Jones and Spears will face the No. 5 seeds, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain, who were silver medalists in the women's doubles event at the Beijing Olympics. That match is not on today's schedule.

"It's going to be a fun match," Spears said. "They both play a lot from the baseline, so there's going to be a lot of lobs and dipping shots. I just hope we're able to have fun when we get out there and enjoy the moment."

Regardless of what happens, Kops-Jones said she is satisfied with her performance this week.

"What I've accomplished by reaching the quarterfinals hasn't even sunk in yet," she said. "I'm not even sure how it will feel once it finally does. I just know that I'm going to sleep well tonight."

Photo Getty Images

Posted by Shelia

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