MELBOURNE, Australia — Angelica Gavaldon is an 11th-grade student from San Diego taking high school correspondence courses.
She is also an amateur tennis player competing against--and beating--professionals at the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament.
"If someone asked me if I thought I'd be in the third round at my first Grand Slam event, I honestly would have had to say no," said Gavaldon, 16, a two-time section champion while playing for Our Lady of Peace.
Next up for Gavaldon, ranked 190th in the world, is Saturday's third-round match against two-time champion Hana Mandlikova.
As Gavaldon sees it, Mandlikova should be feeling the pressure. Gavaldon is just happy to still be playing.
"Now that I'm here and playing Mandlikova, I think she's got all the pressure on her," Gavaldon said. "I can just go out and play my game."
Her route to the third round included victories over American Laxmi Poruri in the first round, 6-3, 6-3, and France's Alexia Dechaume, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, Thursday.
Gavaldon describes herself as an "aggressive base-liner who should come to the net more." After a relatively easy victory against Poruri, Gavaldon blamed a mental lapse as the cause for her near-defeat at the hands of Dechaume.
Leading, 5-2, in the third set against her French opponent, Gavaldon said she let down, and Dechaume took advantage.
Dechaume won four of the next five games and was serving to even the match at 6-6.
"I started to think about how well I had been playing, and how I didn't want to have it all go to waste," Gavaldon said. "I decided to push up my game and go for it."
With her mother watching, Gavaldon broke Dechaume's serve to win.
Despite the victories, Gavaldon will not pocket her winnings. She has already earned $7,000, but because she is an amateur can only claim expenses.