Like the Sabres, she was an underdog, and like the Bills, Jessica Pegula was scrappy enough to make a run for it anyway.
Pegula, the 21-year-old daughter of the owners of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills, Terry and Kim Pegula, fell in the second round of the U.S. Open Wednesday afternoon against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. Pegula was ranked 260th in the WTA, compared to Cibulkova's 50th.
"I had so much fun out there," said Pegula, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. "Even after the last point . . . seeing how pumped she was, and seeing the crowd, I was pumped."
Pegula said she felt the momentum shift in the second set and her serve suffered in the final set, when she won only two of her service games. "Obviously, I'm happy how I played, but I have to improve my service game because I don't know what I was doing."
Cibulkova, she said, was an opponent she'd love to face again. "The way it went down today . . . I would do that any day [but I'd] want to win."
Buffalo sports fans have worn team colors to support one of their own at the Open, as Pegula turned out to be a bright spot in the local sports scene. The Sabres finished last in the NHL and, though the Bills finished 9-7, they just missed making the playoffs last year, extending their drought to 15 seasons.
"I noticed a few Buffalo fans and a lot after I finished, saying 'Good job!' " she said.
The love goes both ways. Her prediction for the Bills? "Playoffs . . . the Sabres, I'm not sure."