After struggling through a sweltering, nearly 21/2-hour final match of the USTA Pro Circuit Women's $25,000 Challenger, Olga Poutchkova morphed from a frustrated, racket-tossing competitor to a bubbly teenager just happy to come out on top in her first $25,000-level win.
Poutchkova, 16, beat No. 3 seed Rossana Neffa de los Rios, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, after advancing through the qualifying tournament and beating the No. 1 seed, Canada's Maureen Drake, in the second round of the competition that began July 4 at the Tennis Center at College Park.
"I'm really happy I'm done with it," said Poutchkova, a native of Belarus. "It's pretty cool."
Poutchkova seemed to lose control of her game and her emotions during a long second set, bouncing her racket off the court and becoming more vocal in her complaints.
"I was so upset and mad because of this umpire, giving me time violations," Poutchkova said.
Once she dropped the set to de los Rios, both players got a break from a mandatory heat delay. Coming back from the 10-minute respite, Poutchkova took full control of the match for the first time since early in the first set.
"I just go back to the fence, hitting the winners," said Poutchkova, who pocketed $3,000 for winning the tournament. "I thought I would just go for it and it wasn't bad."
After Poutchkova took a 3-2 lead in the final set, de los Rios visited the trainer for a muscle cramp and lost the final three games to drop the match.
"It was so hot today, an almost three-hours match," said de los Rios, who is from Paraguay and has been ranked as high as 51st in the WTA rankings. "I tried to come back in the third set but I couldn't."
Poutchkova twisted an ankle in the first round of the tournament July 4 and injured her other ankle during the week. She said injury bothered her consistently through the match, and she could feel twinges of pain off and on.
In July 2003, she defeated Southern California four-time all-American Jewel Peterson to take the Baltimore-USTA $10,000 event. After coming into this week's tournament ranked No. 430 on the WTA Tour, Poutchkova plans to play in the juniors of the U.S. Open in August.
De los Rios, ranked No. 191 in the WTA, was playing in just her third tournament after a knee injury kept her off the court for eight months. She lost in the first round of Wimbledon last year to Kim Clijsters, but made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros during the 2000 French Open.
Chevy Chase's Tara Iyer lost in the first round of the main draw. Taka Bertrand, of Great Falls, and Marinne Baker, who plays for Maryland and is from Glenelg, lost in the first round of the qualifying tournament.