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Former French junior national champion Andrianjafitrimo eying McLeod for Health Florence Open crown
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McLeod for Health Florence Open

Former French junior national champion Andrianjafitrimo eying McLeod for Health Florence Open crown

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FLORENCE, S.C. – France’s Tessah Andrianjafitrimo was all smiles Friday after defeating Gabriella Lee for the first time.

That’s because Andrianjafitrimo was all forehand and all volley during her 6-2, 6-2 win against the Romanian in the McLeod for Health Florence Open quarterfinals at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center.

Andrianjafitrimo was also all focus and all heart. She learned the hard way what could happen if she didn’t keep applying the pressure to Lee, who won their two previous meetings. In one of them, Andrianjafitrimo led 5-1 in the first set, only to let it slip away and lose the match.

Now, Andrianjafitrimo is two wins away from earning her sixth career ITF singles championship. She won earlier this year in Portugal.

“I’ve also lost in a final this year, and I’ve lost in some semifinals,” said Andrianjafitrimo, a 23-year-old native of France who was her country’s 2014 champion for 15-16 girls. “I feel really good and confident in my game, now. Florence is a really nice place to play. So, I’m really happy.”

Andrianjafitrimo was not about to let memories from her two losses to Lee affect Friday.

“I was really calm and focused on my game,” she said. “From the first point until the last point, I was focused. And I think that is what resulted in my win. I learned a lot from losing against her in the past. I played her last year, and she’s tough. She doesn’t show any nerves.

“She stays focused, like I had to be today, from the first point until the last point,” she added. “Today, mentally, I was stronger. I knew today was going to be tough. I was ready to play three sets against her if that happened.”

Andrianjafitrimo, who has been part of two ITF doubles championship teams, made it a point to try and keep Lee at the baseline and attack the net.

“When you play aggressive, you have more chances to get to the ball and to the point,” Andrianjafitrimo said.

On Saturday, the fourth-seeded Andrianjafitrimo will play top-seeded Xiyu Wang at the Floyd Tennis Center in one semifinal. That will happen after the other semifinal between 2018 Florence Open semifinalist Maria Mateas and Emiliana Arango, which starts at 10 a.m.

The singles final is 1 p.m. Sunday at the Floyd Tennis Center.

Andrianjafitrimo likes her chances.

“It’s a long way to go,” she said. “I just want to stay focused on my game. It’s not only about this tournament, but a lot of tournaments after this. My goal is not to just win this weekend, but in other weekends. I like the progress of my game, and I want to keep being aggressive and working to keep moving up.”

In Friday’s doubles semifinals, the second-seeded team of Robin Anderson and Elysia Bolton defeated Lee and Alycia Parks 6-4, 6-2. Emily Appleton and Yuriko Lily Miyazaki defeated Jia-Jing Lu and Katie Volynets 3-6, 7-5, 10-7. The doubles final featuring Anderson/Bolton and Appleton/Miyazaki will be 1 p.m. Saturday on center court.

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Prep Sports Writer

A nine-time APSE national award winner, Scott authored, "70 Years of Thrills and Chills, Drama and Dents at Darlington Raceway." Scott has received several SCPA awards, 8 for 1st place since moving to SC in 2010 from his home state of Georgia.

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