ROCKFORD — You had to look hard Sunday, ignore all the racket tosses and ball abuses and self-depricating tirades, and you could see what once made Alexandra Stevenson the 18th ranked player in the world.
After Alexandra left the Clock Tower Racket Club without comment, her mother, Samantha, summed up the former prodigy’s first match since October 9.
“There were moments of brilliance,” she said.
Not enough of them, though.
Stevenson lost in the first round of qualifying at the SwedishAmerican Tennis Classic to 305th-ranked Eva Fislova in a three-hour, 13-minute match 6-4, 6-7 (7-5),6-4. Her comeback from shoulder surgery will now move to Midland, Mich.
Stevenson’s first point gave all the indications that the player who made it to the Wimbledon semis in 1999 was back on course. She hit a cross-court backhand that Fislova didn’t even attempt to field.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Fislova said. “I’ve just seen her play on TV, and that was a long time ago.”
And far, far away from Rockford.
“I wish we could do this with nobody watching,” Samantha Stevenson said.
There was a standing-room-only crowd in the balcony behind Court 1 on Sunday.
Stevenson had three unforced errors off her forehand and was broken in the first game. The set was back on serve at 2-2, but Stevenson was broken again and down 5-4 after she lost love-40 on two passing shots and unforced errors on the backhand and forehand sides.
“She had trouble because the ball was coming faster than she’s used to,” Samantha Stevenson said.
The first set took 40 minutes, but the second set topped that at 61 minutes.
“It was a good first match,” Samantha Stevenson said.
Fislova fought back the first three set points in the second, but Stevenson went to her backhand side with a heavy first serve and the return sailed long for a 7-5 tiebreaker win.
“We both served well at times,” Fislova said. “But it wasn’t a very nice match to watch.”
The third set was on serve until Fislova broke Stevenson for the 6-4 win.
Stevenson double-faulted twice — she had 12 on the day — and hit a backhand long on match point, banging her racket and leaving the club post haste.
“She doesn’t see the big picture,” Samantha Stevenson said. “As a mother, it’s a joy to see her do the brilliant things she can do. I feel blessed that she’s out here.”
Thank you very much Athenaeum