Vania King said on Tuesday that she needed to get much stronger to return to the top 100 in the world.
She was right.
The unseeded American lost to eighth-seeded Heidi El Tabakh of Canada 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-1 on Saturday in the semifinals of The Ascension Project Women's $25,000 Challenger in Redding, Calif.
King, 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters), returned to competition in August after missing almost one year with a herniated disc in her neck. She reached a career-high No. 50 in 2006 and finished the year in the top 100 from 2009 through 2013 but has tumbled to No. 773.
King also climbed to No. 3 in doubles in 2011 after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010 with Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.
El Tabakh, who will turn 29 on Friday, will face fifth-seeded Sherazad Reix of France for the title today at 12:30 p.m. at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. Admission is free.
Reix, 26, beat seventh-seeded Paula Cristina Goncalves of Brazil 6-4, 6-4.
Reix and El Tabakh -- ranked No. 273 and No. 421, respectively -- have met only once, and that was seven years ago. El Tabakh won 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-5 on a hardcourt in the second round of qualifying in the $25,000 Coimbra (Portugal) Challenger.
El Tabakh was ranked No. 174 at the end of 2014 but missed the first four months of this year. She seeks her sixth career Challenger singles title and Reix her first.
Top-seeded Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey of the United States won the doubles title, beating second-seeded Michelle Sammons of South Africa and Varatchaya Wongteanchai of Thailand 6-2, 7-5. Weinhold and Whoriskey also won the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger in July.