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Battle tested by Belgium, USA notches first two wins at Billie Jean King Cup

Battle tested by Belgium, USA notches first two wins at Billie Jean King Cup

It took two come-from-behind victories over four-and-a-half hours on court, but Jessica Pegula and Emma Navarro ensured Lindsay Davenport logged an undefeated first night as Billie Jean King Cup captain. 

Pegula and Navarro each outlasted ambitious efforts from up-and-coming Belgian counterparts, each fighting from a set down to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at the USTA National Campus heading into the decisive Saturday in Lake Nona, Fla. 

To kick off the action, USTA Florida President Phil Girardi began the night with the ceremonial coin toss before a packed crowd which included U.S. men's players Ben Shelton, Mackenzie McDonald, and Chris Eubanks.

First up, world No. 5 Pegula took down 19-year-old Sofia Costoulas, a former world junior No. 2 now ranked No. 279 in the WTA rankings, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, in a night impacted by gusty winds on-court. 

Above: Jessica Pegula tosses into the wind on her serve during to tough BJK Cup match. Photo: Todd Pechter / Florida Tennis.

"She was playing really, really well," said Pegula in a post-match interview. "I came out a little flat and playing in really windy conditions doesn't really help, but I was able to figure it out in tough conditions and I'm just glad I got the win for the team."

Navarro, making her Billie Jean King Cup debut, also came back from losing the first set to defeat Hanne Vandewinkel, also 19 and ranked No. 278, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

"We're a mentally tough team," Navarro said after the match. "We're scrappy and we're willing to go the distance."

Above: A proud Lindsay Davenport looks on as Navarro toughs out another gritty three-set win for Team USA. Photo: Todd Pechter / Florida Tennis.

Davenport added, ""Couldn't be more proud of my two ladies. Really tough matches. We knew the Belgians were going to be tough... [but] my players fought."

Pegula will now lead off the action today vs. Vandewinkel at 2 p.m., with Navarro scheduled to play Costoulas in the second match. Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend are the nominated U.S. doubles team, scheduled to play Marie Benoit and Kimberley Zimmermann, after Saturday's two singles showdowns. 

The first nation to win three matches over the weekend clinches victory and advances to the 12-nation Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November in Seville, Spain. Today's schedule and match-ups may be amended if one nation clinches victory in the third or fourth match of the weekend. 


Written by Florida Tennis Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Top Photo: Todd Pechter / Florida Tennis. Source: USTA.

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