Southern California native Kayla Day has been quite a story here at the BNP Paribas Open, successfully backing up her wild card and proving she is here to play and here to stay. In her 1st match out she defeated No. 85 Kurumi Nara in straight sets, a great win for the No. 175 Day. Next up was veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, ranked No. 30. Going into the match with all the confidence of a 17-year old with nothing to lose, Day battled to a three set victory. Her reward for another big win…a date with No. 7 Garbine Muguruza.
Stadium 1 was packed as they took the court, and as Kayla Day closed in on the 1st set, more and more fans came pouring in to see her play. She had just come off her biggest win ever, and was now a set up on her highest ranked opponent ever. But Muguruza battled back to put an end to Day’s Cinderella story defeating her 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
While visibly disappointed in her loss, she was able to take a lot away from the match. Most notably, “I was able to push a Top-10 player really far,” she said. When asked about her expectations for the match, Day commented, “I didn’t really have any expectations going in, but had to believe I could win. You can’t go in thinking you’re going to lose, obviously a tall task, but yeah, it was a good match.”
On how she feels after her maiden voyage at the BNP Paribas Open: “I think I’m a lot closer than I thought I was, but still a lot of work to be done. I need to work putting the ball away more, like the top players do, taking advantage of a shorter ball. This event means so much in the big picture, to know that I can hang with these girls, and I’m really so close to being at the top level. It was amazing to play here for the 1st time, and I leave with so much confidence.”
When Kayla Day turned pro back in December, a few were shaking their heads, was this the right move for her? After watching her on court and seeing how she handles herself off court this week, Kayla seems right where she needs to be…. growing and learning with every match, and certainly ready for the big stage.