Tornado Alicia Black knows the comparisons to Serena Williams will only intensify after her latest victory in a country hungry for the next American tennis champion.
Black, 16, scored her first WTA win Saturday afternoon by beating 18-year-old Louisa Chirico of New York, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round of the Citi Open qualifying tournament at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.
The 32-year-old Williams, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, won her first WTA match — also in a qualifying tournament — at age 15 in 1997.
“It’s nice knowing people are hoping for me to be the next top pro,” said Black, the second-ranked U.S. junior girls’ player. “A lot of people compare me to Serena, but I’m just focused on being myself right now.”
Black, who is from Boca Raton, Fla., and trains at L’Academie De Tennis in Florida, broke Chirico, ranked No. 218 in the world, in the seventh game of the first set and never looked back, reeling off seven straight games behind her steady baseline play.
“I was playing really aggressive,” Black said. “[Chirico] was leaving a lot of balls short in the court, so I took advantage of that.”
Along with her sister, 13-year-old Hurricane Tyra, the Blacks have drawn attention for their unusual names and their dominant play on the junior circuit that elicits comparisons to the Williams sisters, Serena and her older sister, Venus.
“I like Serena a lot,” Black said. “I like watching her play. I also admire [former world No. 1] Ana Ivanovic and [22nd ranked] Sloane Stephens.
“They’re just such great role models. I look up to them.”
Black’s most significant accomplishment on the junior circuit has been reaching the U.S. Open girls’ junior tournament final in 2013. She also advanced to the quarterfinals at this year’s Wimbledon junior championships and the semifinals in the junior doubles tournament at this year’s French Open.
“My offense has been the most improved,” said Black, the world No. 4 junior girls’ player. “I used to play very defensive. Now I’m starting to work on playing offense and that’s been helping a lot.”
Black will play 30-year-old Emily Webley-Smith of Britain on Sunday for a chance to play in the main draw, which begins Monday.
Notes: Seventeen-year-old Jordi Arconada, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center at College Park, won his first ATP match. The Argentine was leading France’s Michael Llodra, 3-2, before the Frenchman retired with a left elbow injury.
The other American winners on the men’s side were former college all-American Sekou Bangoura, 17-year-old Jared Donaldson, 2005 U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, former top-100 player Rajeev Ram, former Louisville standout Andrew Carter and journeyman Alex Kuznetsov.
Stefan Kozlov, the top American junior boys’ player, pushed top-seed and world No. 92 Sam Groth of Australia to three sets before falling, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, in 2 hours 11 minutes. . . .
American Taylor Townsend, ranked No. 145 in the world, beat compatriot Alexandra Mueller, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1, to wrap up the first day of the qualifiers.