South African rising star Zoë Kruger booked a place in the second round of the Ilana Kloss International, an ITF $25,000 World Tour event with a hard-fought three-sets victory over Canada’s Carol Zhao on Tuesday, 9 February 2021, at the North-West University Potchefstroom Campus.
The 18-year-old Kruger, who was awarded a wildcard into the tournament, prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours and 46 minutes to chalk up the win over Zhao in their first meeting.
After out-duelling the big hitter Zhao, Kruger will have another power player awaiting her in the second round – third seed and world number 200 on the ITF World rankings Bibiane Schoofs from the Netherlands.
Schoofs edged out Bloemfontein teen Delien Kleinhans in three sets 6-0 3-6 7-5.
“I think it was a really tough match, obviously come back after a big injury. It is my first tournament in almost a year and half, so it is tough coming back to competition again, but I think I really just fought until the end,” commented Kruger following her match.
“It (the match) was a little bit all over the place, but I think the fight just brought me through it.
South Africa’s leading women’s player Chanel Simmonds was denied a second-round spot by Spanish fifth seed Eva Alvarez. Alvarez defeated the 28-year-old South African 7-6(5) 6-4 to advance to the second round.
Dutch top seed Lesley Kerkhove also booked her place in the second round following a 7-6(2) 6-2 victory over Mariam Kolodziejove of Czech Republic.
Ilana Kloss International (Women’s ITF $25,000 World Tour)
Singles Round of 32 Results:
 Lesley Kerkhove (NED) bt Miriam Kolodziejova (CZE) 7-6(2) 6-2
 Bibiane Schoofs (NED) bt [WC] Delien Kleinhans (RSA) 6-0 3-6 7-5
 Eva Alvarez (ESP) bt [WC] Chanel Simmonds (RSA) 7-6(5) 6-4
Gabriela Ce (BRA) bt Kathinka von Deichmann (LIE) 4-6 6-3 6-0
Sada Nahimana (BDI) bt Dejana Radanovic (SRB) 6-2 7-6(6)
Zoë Kruger (RSA) bt Carol Zhao (CAN) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Jesika Maleckova (CZE) bt Irina Fetecau (ROU) 7-6(2) 6-2
Anna Bondar (HUN) bt  Victoria Kan (RUS) 6-3 6-4
Photo 1 Caption: South African rising tennis star, Zoë Kruger, pictured in action on court. Photo: Café / Barco Greeff
With editing by gsport