Peyton Stearns credits college tennis with preparing her for intense French Open atmosphere

Peyton Stearns

Peyton Stearns believes that collegiate tennis is excellent preparation for the kind of intense atmosphere at Roland Garros.

Stearns upset former French Open champions Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Grand Slam.

She kept her cool as Ostapenko grew increasingly erratic and that would help get the crowd on her side.

“You see that a lot, people screaming at you, saying things,” Stearns told the Tennis Channel afterwards.

“I thrive off that energy, and I love it out here.”

Stearns entered Paris ranked No 69 after a run of fine performances that included two ITF circuit titles, two other finals, including a runner-up finish to fellow former college student Emma Navarro in April at a $100,000 event in Charleston, and a runner-up finish to Tatjana Maria in Bogota. At the beginning of the season, Stearns was outside the Top 200 in the WTA rankings.

After defeating Katerina Siniakova in the first round, Stearns has now defeated two Top 50 players in as many matches at Roland Garros. Her victory over Ostapenko marked her first Top 20 triumph ever.

Stearns admitted that it wouldn’t help to think too much about the profile of her opponent.

“I really couldn’t think about who I was playing, where I was playing,” Stearns said.

“The nerves crept in in the second set; I was able to rebound, luckily, for the third. I got my mind right, and I’m super happy with myself and my team right now.”

Stearns feels that the collegiate team environment has given her a great base for her professional work ethic.

“I think developing a solid team around me that I trust—they want me to do the best—putting in the work, coming out on court every day and trying my best even if it doesn’t look pretty, and that’s that,” she said.

Later in the day World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the French Open third round with a straight-sets win over fellow Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich.

The Australian Open champion took time to get the measure of her compatriot, who had yet to win a main-draw WTA match before this tournament. However, the No 1 contender wrapped up a 7-5, 6-2 victory in the end.

Sabalenka will face either Poland’s Magdalena Frech or Russian Kamilla Rakhimova in the last 32 later this week.

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