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From the Lagos Open to the US Open

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We chronicle the journey of a player, who came to Lagos, Nigeria in search of glory at the Lagos Open, an ITF pro circuit tournament, and has now moved up the rungs of the sport to compete at the highest level — the US Open.

Harmony Tan, 20 years at the time and a budding French star, came to Nigeria to compete at the Lagos Open, formerly known as the Lagos Governor’s Cup. She was on the back of six straight losses in ITF Futures event in Europe and, like any other player in that space, was in dire need of good results.

She entered the main draw of the Lagos Cup as the fifth seed and worked her way through to the quarterfinals, outlasting Russia’s Nika Kukharchuk in three sets before easing past Brenda Njuki of Sweden in straight sets in the Last 16. But Conny Perrin, who was the top seed at the time, proved too hot for Tan in the quarterfinals as the Frenchwoman went down in three sets to the Swiss.

Harmony Tan in action at the 2017 Lagos Cup, formerly known as the Lagos Governor’s Cup, in Lagos, Nigeria.

Tan, however, couldn’t do better in the second leg as injury forced her to retire toward the end of her opening match while trailing her countrywoman Clothilde de Bernardi 6-2, 5-1. The rest of the year would have nothing to offer the Frenchwoman as she failed to qualify for the main draws of an ITF Futures tourney & a WTA 125K event – both of them in her home country.

Tan would begin 2018 with a loss and didn’t win more than a single match in a tournament right till the end of February. Redemption would come the following month.

In March, at the clay court Futures event in Campinas Brazil, Tan ticked through the main draws with admirable panache, breezing through to the final without dropping a set. A 6-2, 6-0 drubbing of her compatriot, Alice Rame in the final saw her claim her first title in exactly a year and fifth ITF title of her fledgling career.

France’s Harmony Tan (L) poses with her Campinas trophy.

But the 20-year-old failed to replicate the success she had in Campinas in other events. She fell in the second round of the Croissy-Beaubourg in France, and then was unable to get past the first round of qualifying at the Morocco Open. She followed that up with a poor stint at Saint-Gaudens in France where she failed to progress beyond the first round.

However, in May, the opportunity to feature in a Grand Slam presented itself. Tan played in the qualifying rounds as a wildcard to get into the main draws of the French Open. She clinched her first two Top 200 wins, over Arina Rodionova and Liu Fangzhou to come within a match of making her main draw debut in a Grand Slam tournament. But a straight sets loss to Georgina García Pérez meant she’d have to wait for her breakthrough.

She then returned to the ITF circuit where she achieved very little success.

In July, the breakthrough came. The 20-year-old, now ranked 337 in the world, won a playoff for the reciprocal French wildcard in New York, defeating Diane Parry, Fiona Ferro and then Australian Open girls’ finalist Clara Burel 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the wild card tournament staged at the National Training Center to gain entry into the main draw of the US Open where she will be making her WTA debut.

She will now face a former top 5 player and Grand Slam finalist Eugenie Bouchard in the first round on Tuesday. And while there will be a gulf of experience between the two, Tan will gain confidence from the fact that she has nothing to lose. That, would do her a lot of good!

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