CONCORD — A revamped, revamped Katrina Scott celebrated her 18th birthday two months ago, her revamped game was stronger and bolder, and on Thursday the 6-foot Californian advanced to the quarterfinals of the Thoreau Tennis Open with a solid win here over one older, senior Karolina Muchowa.
Muchova, 25, had to retire 4-0 in the second set with a wrist injury. But by that point, Scott, a 6-3 winner in the first set, had taken command of the stage. She secured the first set by winning three games in a row, then rattled off four more before a disappointed, frustrated Muchova was forced to call it a day.
Scott is targeting a spot at the upcoming US Open, like the majority of the 60+ women who started playing here earlier this week. Arriving at number 241, she is among the youngest entrants at the tournament, her game being reworked and improved during a month-long stint at Kass Tennis Academy in Columbus during the 2020 COVID shutdown.
“I went there and they said to me, ‘These are the things that we want to change if you get where you’re going,'” Scott recalled, with much of their makeover centered on a more aggressive, offensive play. “I just went all in and we reconstructed a few different parts of my game – which was a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
However, Scott has a history of sporting lane changes. She began ballet at the age of two, at the urging of her Iranian-born mother, Lena, who was a childhood ballet dancer before immigrating to the United States at the age of 17.
“Ballet didn’t work out for her,” recalled a smiling Lena, sitting on the sidelines during her daughter’s win over Muchova. “She didn’t like that at all from the start.”
“Oh my god I hated it so much,” Katrina added. “Too slow, just no adrenaline for me… I need that adrenaline part that tennis gives me. I’ve been begging her forever to take me out of ballet.”
Figure skating came next, partly because Lena felt it was second best to ballet. Katrina actually liked the skates a lot more than ballet and stuck with it into her early teens, typically skating at an ice rink in Van Nuys, northwest of Los Angeles.
She might have kept the numbers, Scott said, if it hadn’t been for the day she didn’t drive home after practice, she would have been hitchhiking with a friend who was going to a nearby tennis lesson. She promptly picked up a bat and hasn’t let go of it since.
“I don’t remember if I was good at it or if I just liked it,” recalled Scott, who was 7 when she first played. “But I just started playing tennis more and more, found that I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it…then it was time I had to choose between the two and chose tennis have.”
Working at Columbus, Scott noted, improved her serve and forehand, along with her overall game focus and mental approach to the game. The industry’s COVID shutdown meant no tournaments were played, leaving her under the supervision of her head coaches David Kass and Balazs Novak for more than six months.
“We didn’t reconstruct my serve, but we changed a few things,” Scott said. “I’ve hit thousands and thousands of serves… and thousands and thousands and thousands of foreshands. I mean, it was crazy working eight hours a day on every shot and piece of my game.”
A confluence of factors, mostly withdrawals due to COVID, earned Scott a wild card slot at the 2020 US Open where she won a round. Now she’s hoping for a return, which would be a fifth visit to Flushing Meadows, where she first played as a junior.
Scott meets another American, Chicago-born Taylor Townsend, in Friday’s quarterfinals game. Townsend continued on Wednesday with her 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win over Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure. It will be the first time the two Americans will face each other… Harmony Tan, who upset Serena Williams in the first round at Wimbledon in late June, was eliminated in their round of 16 match in a three-way that lasted 2:40, the longest game of the day. Tan dropped a 6-0 bagel in the second after a 6-4 win in the opening set and was edged out by Katie Volynets in a third-set tiebreak. It was Tan’s first match after contracting COVID immediately after four rounds at Wimbledon. Volynets, another Californian, is ranked 119th and will now face Croatian-born Bernada Pera in Thursday’s first game… Muchova, No. 168, was born in Olomouc, Czech Republic. David Krejci, who signed a one-year deal earlier this week to play for the Bruins again this season, played for the Olomouc Roosters last season. As a reminder, folks, even during an August tennis tournament in Henry David Thoreau’s country, it’s always and forever about hockey.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected].