CiCi Bellis of Atherton falls in second round of U.S. Open

CiCi Bellis of Atherton falls in second round of U.S. Open
August 29, 2014, 10:00 am
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Maybe it didn't turn out how I wanted it to, but thank you, everybody, for coming out and watching.
CiCi Bellis

NEW YORK — CiCi Bellis, the first 15-year-old since 1996 to win a U.S. Open match, could not follow that up with another victory, losing in the second round Thursday night.

Bellis, a Californian who is ranked 1,208th and playing in her first tour-level event, won seven games in a row during one stretch but wound up getting beaten 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 by 48th-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

[RELATED: Atherton teen becomes youngest to win at US Open since '96]

"Maybe it didn't turn out how I wanted it to, but thank you, everybody, for coming out and watching," Bellis told the overflowing and wildly supportive crowd in an on-court interview. "It was amazing. I mean, I never thought I'd be here."

Bellis earned a wild-card invitation from the U.S. Tennis Association by winning the USTA Girls' 18s National Championship, the youngest to do since Lindsay Davenport also won it at 15 in 1991.

On Tuesday, Bellis grabbed headlines by surprisingly eliminating 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, the runner-up at the Australian Open in January. That made the home-schooled Bellis the youngest player to win in New York since Anna Kournikova, 18 years ago.

It also made her the sort of made-in-a-minute modern star who collects Twitter followers by the thousands and can't walk far without having items thrust at her for autographs.

"This whole thing has been such a great experience," Bellis said.

Playing Thursday under the lights in front of an audience that chanted her name at 2,800-seat Court 17, and with the match broadcast live on ESPN2, Bellis did not start well.

Heaving deep breaths before hitting serves, she got broken at love to fall behind 2-0 right away.

She was broken at love again to trail 5-3, and dropped that first set.

But Bellis began playing more steadily as the match went on, and after her shutout in the second set, she went up 1-0 in the third.

That, though, is where things began to unravel.

Bellis double-faulted to get broken and fall behind 2-1 in the final set, and started exhibiting some negative energy, yelling at herself and dropping her racket to the court.

Later, she appeared to hurt her left leg on a stumble, then sat in her changeover chair and clutched at that calf.

Diyas is only 20 years old, but that makes her a veteran by comparison. This was her 10th Grand Slam match, including a fourth-round run at Wimbledon.