There were more people in the gallery at Palmetto Tennis Center than normal on Monday for the Palmetto Pro Open, especially for the first day of qualifying rounds.
However, not your average, every-day PPO qualifier was playing on the Hodgin …
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However, not your average, every-day PPO qualifier was playing on the Hodgin Stadium Court. Sumterite Julia Sorrells was playing for a chance to advance to the main draw.
It didn't work out as Sorrells had hoped as she lost in straight sets 6-1, 6-0 to Carson Branstine, the No. 3 seed among the 32 qualifiers.
"I'm proud of myself that I was able to get a game, especially against this kind of competition," said Sorrells, who gained the opportunity to play when it was discovered the qualifying field had one opening left. Thus, she received a wild card berth into the field.
"We were meeting on Thursday and saw that we needed one more player to fill out the (qualifying) draw," said Sorrells, who has been a tennis training professional for PTC since November of 2018. "I was asked if I would do it and I said I would."
Sorrells, who played two years of tennis at NCAA Division II Coker College before graduating in 2018, did a quick three days of training to prepare for her match in the USTA Women's $25,000 Pro Circuit Event.
"I trained with (PTC general manager) Sam (Kiser) and (PTC performance professional) Kyle (Beynor)," Sorrells said. "I had not played singles in 12 months, so I needed the work. We had 3-hour sessions."
Sorrells said the most surprising thing to her in the match was the pace of the match.
"Definitely the pace of play was the most surprising thing," Sorrells said. "You had to be thinking ahead to what your next shot was going to be because she could put it wherever she wanted to."
When the match was over, Sorrells met Branstine at the net for the customary hand shake. As she turned to walk off the court, she lifted her arms in celebration to her cheering gallery.
"I had my family and the ladies I train," Sorrells said. "It was great having that support."
Play in the tournament will continue today beginning at 9 a.m. There will be eight second-round qualifying matches that will complete the field for the 16-player main draw.
Also, some of the main draw matches will be played as well.
The singles semifinals and the doubles finals will be played on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. The singles finals are scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.
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