American teenager CiCi Bellis wins in Grand Slam main draw debut

The 2014 U.S. Open has its first true upset of the tournament.

Making her Grand Slam main-draw debut, 15-year-old American Catherine “CiCi” Bellis defeated 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday. She becomes the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match since former Russian phenom Anna Kournikova did so in 1996.

In order to reach the tournament, Bellis, ranked No. 1,208 in the world, won the USTA girls’ 18 national championships to earn a wild card for the main draw. Her opponent, on the other hand, is 10 years her senior and reached the Australian Open final in January.

“I’m so speechless right now. I have no words,” she told ESPN’s Darren Cahill after the win. “I can’t believe I got through that.”

Bellis swung freely and took the first set in just 23 minutes, winning 91 percent of first serve points. Cibulkova, who is the No. 13 player in the world, fought back in the second set, breaking Bellis twice to force a third and deciding set.

The California native did not let the rally from her more experienced opponent rattle her and took the set and match on her second match point after going up 40-0 in the final game.

“I never thought I’d come out like this,” she told Cahill as the adoring crowd at Court 6 cheered. “It’s unbelievable. The atmosphere here is crazy. It’s amazing.”

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.

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Marissa Payne · August 26, 2014