New Malden's Melanie South, who at 16 was the youngest member of the home
team, became the hero of day two of the Maureen Connolly Trophy in
Bournemouth after putting GB into the lead for the first time.
Playing in the biggest event of her career the Surrey teenager, who was a
surprise finalist at this year's 18 and under junior championships, had the
odds stacked heavily against her in the opening match of the day. Riza
Zalameda holds one USTA national singles title and five national doubles
titles. She has represented the United States in World Junior Tennis and
World Youth Cup, the junior equivalents to Fed Cup for players 14 and
younger and 16 and younger respectively.
But having settled some early match nerves, Melanie warmed well to the task
and beat the more experienced Californian 4-6 6-4 6-1.
"I didn't know anything about her and I didn't have any expectations,"
admitted the grinning teenager after converting her third match point and
putting GB into a 3-2 lead.
"I felt very nervous and stiff to start with because it was the biggest
occasion I have ever experienced. But the rest of the British team helped
me relax and after I had won the first set I knew I could beat her."
South found herself a break down after the opening game of the deciding set
but, cheered on by the packed Union Flag-waving crowd, she broke back
immediately and finished the match with a run of five straight games.
"Melanie handled herself fantastically and she got better and better as the
match went on," said GB Captain Nick Brown after yesterday's singles
"She's probably the youngest player to compete in this event for us since
Sue Barker. She's determined, she's got weapons that can do damage and she
got stuck in and really competed."
Melanie has seen her Senior World ranking go into the 900's this year and
has now also earned her doubles world ranking.