Peyton Stearns achieved her maiden career's victory on WTA level by defeating Katie Boulter in the stunning match, which was an absolute highlight in the opening day of ATX Open. The 21 years-old American has earned the wild card into main draw of inaugural edition of WTA 250 event in Texas due to her impressive results in college tennis competitions. Stearns has won the NCAA singles title in 2022 and team titles in 2021 and 2022 when representing the University of Texas. Being successful in ITF competitions as well, helped Stearns to achieve the 137th place in WTA rankings, even before her first win in any competition on the highest level so far.
The first opportunity came for getting acknowledged by the wider audience appeared today, when Stearns was facing the talented British player in the evening session of the opening day of ATX Open. Boulter earned her place in the main draw by going through the qualifying stage. The match had no clear favorite before the start and the on-court action was tight as expected, but barely anyone could anticipate, that this battle will last almost 3,5 hours and will end-up after three tie-breaks, each of them settling the long and intense set.
The opening set was started by two breaks in first two games and both players were holding their serves into tie-break. Stearns came out of being one mini-break down and took it 7-5. Second set delivered a few long games ended by deuces and 6 breaks in general. The American was already in the driver's seat to close the match, while being a set and break up on Boulter . Stearns was serving for the match within a score 5-4 and 6-5. Both games were won by Boulter after a few deuces, but with no matchpoint produced by Stearns. The Brit dominated the tie-break and forced the deciding set. Second one lasted as much as 81 minutes.
Stearns was even closer to finalize the match this time. The American was leading 5-3, but failed with a third attempt to serve out the victory. The first matchpoint for her came within Boulter's serve in 10th game, but the Brit cleared the trouble well. The decisive tie-break was a rollercoaster same as the whole match. Stearns was on the front foot once again after leading 3-0 with a double break, but Boulter regained the momentum and moved into 5-4 lead with two points to serve. It was the first serious chance for the more experienced of players after coming out from all the trouble caused by the local crowd's favorite. Boulter not capitalized on it though, as she double faulted and gave away another point on serve. Stearns did not blow away another big chance, when gaining a matchpoint on her own serve and finalized this impressive battle with a score 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(5) after 3:26 hours. Quite a style to gain a maiden WTA victory.
The American will face Mirjam Bjorklund in second round. The Swede made an upset on tournament's seed #7 Alycia Parks, defeating the winner of February's WTA 250 in Lyon 6-4 4-6 6-4.