I am a tennis fan; actually, more than just a tennis fan, so I had heard of Cori (aka: Coco) Gauff (DOB: 03.13.2004). I saw her play live for the first time in the qualifying rounds of the 2018 US Open (08.22.2018).
2018 US Open Qualifying Rounds
I got to the stadium early enough to watch her warm-up and I spent the time watching her serve and practice her ground strokes. I wished her well as she was leaving and stayed put for her first-round match against Heather Watson. Watson once ranked as high as thirty-eight, was ranked at that time one hundred and sixteen. For the fourteen-year-old, it would be a tough match; however, I really felt she had the weapons to defeat Watson. Unfortunately, the occasion got to her and she did not play any where close to the level she was capable of and she lost. Yet, I imagine that she learned a lot from the entire experience. At that time, she was ranked 928, fast forward to 2019 (less than a year later) and she is ranked 313.
2018 Junior French Open Champion
In case you don’t know much about this teenager, she was the number one ranked junior player in 2018. She made it to the Junior US Open final in 2017 and won the Junior French Open Championship in 2018. Yet, despite all her junior accomplishments, I just did not think she could beat the five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, so easily. I watched in amazement as she drew closer and closer to the victory, thinking that Williams would make one of her miraculous comebacks. Sadly, it was not to be as injury had taken a toll and although the mind was willing, the body could not deliver.
Opponents Along The Way
I really expected her to beat Magdalena Rybarikova because frankly the Slovakian had not been playing that well lately and was running low on confidence. Gauff did not disappoint, and easily won that encounter in straight sets.
Next came Polona Hercog. For some strange reason, I felt she would be the player that could upset Gauff. Why? Hercog had just won a title in April of this year, her first title since 2012 and she was playing with renewed confidence. Also, she could overpower Gauff because she had a consistently bigger serve and forehand. She almost did, she had two match points on her serve; however, when she needed to believe, doubts crept in and she lost a golden opportunity to get to the second week of a major for the first time in her career.
Halep, Her Hardest Test
It won’t get any easier for the fifteen-year-old. Now, the world expects her to keep going and she has never been in this situation before (but then again, this whole experience is all new to her). Can her young shoulders bear the burden of expectation and pull off another stunning upset? The seventh seed, Simona Halep, her next opponent may prove too much for the youngster; however, why not?
I remember the era when teenagers were winning majors, so why can’t Gauff do the same? Perhaps, she is not physically strong enough yet to withstand the power tennis of this era and lacks the necessary experience to navigate certain intangibles; yet, she proved she learns fast and on the go when she fought back to win her match against Hercog.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: serveandrally originals