Jamie Loeb booked a spot in the semifinals of the Dow Tennis Classic after a convincing 6-2, 6-0 win over Carol Zhao on Friday.

In the first set the 22-year old American started off the match serving strong by firing in three aces and winning nearly two-thirds of her second serve points. Loeb easily closed out the opening set 6-2 and carried that momentum into the second set, breaking Zhao on each of her service games. Loeb finished off the match 6-2, 6-0 in one hour.

Loeb is currently ranked No. 153 in the world and reached a career high ranking of No. 139 in the world late last year. She holds 13 ITF Pro Circuit singles and doubles titles overall (seven in singles, six in doubles). Loeb last played in Midland in 2016, where she reached the semifinals as well. And much like 2016, as the week has progressed, her confidence has also risen.

“With each match I have played so far, I have gotten better,” said Loeb. “It was definitely a great match, probably one of the best matches I have ever played. Carol didn’t really do anything wrong, I just stepped it up and hit my shots.”

Later in the evening, Loeb received the Barbara Malan “Toughest Competitor” Award. This award is presented to the player who exemplifies courage, heart, humor and a never-give-up-attitude...win or lose. The toughest competitor loves to compete, but does so with a love of the game and a sense of fair play. Barbara Malan was a longtime tennis fan who opened her home to players of the Dow Tennis Classic each year. Malan fought a three-year battle with cancer before she passed away.

Loeb will now take on No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady. Her fellow American defeated Bianca Vanessa Andreescu, 6-4, 7-5, earlier in the afternoon. Brady and Loeb have met on three previous occasions, with Brady leading their head to head, 2-1.

Also advancing to the semifinals was No. 1 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu (d. Rebecca Peterson, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3) and No. 3 seed Madison Brengle (d. Evgeniya Rodina, 6-1, 6-1). Semifinals Saturday gets underway tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. with the first doubles semifinal, followed by the first singles semifinal. The featured evening matches will wrap up the days play beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Austin Woodysb