Black and Hewett With the Mixed Upset of the Day
In the Mixed Doubles Round of 16 at the Baird Wealth Management Cincinnati Open Presented by Vizzy, partners Hurricane Tyra Black and Rafa Hewett earned their way to a massive victory.
They needed just one more point to pull off what broadcaster Michelle McMahon said would be “the upset of the tournament.”
Black and Hewett were taking on Tyson McGuffin and Catherine Parenteau, the #5 and #3 mixed doubles players in the world, respectively. Together, they were the #3-seeded team in the tournament.
Black and Hewett? The 19th seed.
The heavily favored Parenteau and McGuffin predictably jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first set, in what could have been the first phase in an otherwise forgettable straight-sets rout. But Black and Hewett battled back, briefly taking the lead at 9-8.
However, Parenteau and McGuffin managed to retake control of the match with back-to-back Parenteau winners to end the first set, 11-9.
“I think we just let off on the gas a little bit,” Hewett said after the match. “They were able to work their way back in. I feel like we were controlling the whole match.”
In the second set, Black and Hewett upped the intensity.
“We got back to being hungry and being aggressive. We took over the match after that,” Hewett said.
Up 6-5 in the second set, Black outlasted both Parenteau and McGuffin by herself in a speedy succession of volleys to ignite the crowd. Hewett pointed at his teammate, beaming.
“I love to see when my partner hits a winner or hits a putaway shot or gets in those hand speed battles,” Hewett said after the match. “I enjoy that more than myself. When I see her taking it to the guy, I think that’s bada**.”
Black said that Hewett’s encouragement helped raise her game, saying, “Rafa has a lot of energy on the court. So if I just keep doing what I need to do, Rafa’s right there to pump me up.”
Hewett thrilled the fans in the second set with a series of unexpected shots, including an attempted tweener in the midst of a full-throttle firefight against McGuffin.
TV commentator Kamryn Blackwood said “[Hewett] just on fire right now. We have seen tweeners and behind-the-back twirl shots. He is just getting the crowd going.”
Black and Hewett battled back from an 11-10 deficit to take the second set by a razor’s edge, 13-11 and advanced to a decisive third set.
And as the stakes went up, Black and Hewett remained loose and smiling.
“He was saying some really funny things so I was just trying not to laugh too much on the court,” Black said. “I was trying to stay focused but it was really funny.”
Close to an hour and a half after the match began, Hewett and Black were serving for the match, up a decisive 10-5 in the third set.
Black served the ball deep to Parenteau’s backhand, who returned the ball up the middle to Hewett. Hewett then made a third-shot inside-out forehand drive toward Parenteau, who volleyed the ball cross-court back toward Hewett.
But Parenteau’s volley was lofted just high enough into the air for Black to pounce and hit a leaping forehand volley directly at McGuffin.
“[Hewett] hit a great drive and the second I saw it lift up, my first instinct was to just go,” Black said.
McGuffin did well to get the ball back over the net, but Black put the point — and the match — away with one last emphatic two-hander into McGuffin’s body.
And Hewett, still at the baseline, watched with delight.
“Just foot on the gas and let’s eat,” he smiled.
In the next round, Hewett and Black came up short in the quarterfinals against Thomas Wilson and Vivienne David. But their win over Parenteau and McGuffin was the match of the day, if not the entire weekend.
Turns out, the key to overcoming such a large disparity in the teams’ rankings (19-seed vs 3-seed) might just be to ignore the seedings: When asked about the upset after the match, an amusingly confused Hewett shrugged his shoulders.
“We were the 19 seed? I didn’t know.”