Tennis fan John Bolan from the United States wanted to share with you his thoughts about Coco Vandeweghe, who could be the next big thing his country has been awaiting so much. The 18-year old Vandeweghe keeps advancing at the current $2,000,000 Tokyo tournament, having defeated Klara Zakopalova in the first round and seed No.14 Aravane Rezai today in the second round.
For years, America has been wondering which young player would rise up to replace the aging Williams sisters on the WTA Tour. Coco Vandeweghe may be the answer. The first hint came in San Diego this year where she reached the quarterfinals defeating Vera Zvonareva along the way before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova, the tournament winner. She had a new coach, Tom Gullickson, and was supported by many fans since her home is not far from the tournament site at La Costa. San Diego was where she first played in a WTA tournament after being granted a wildcard at age 14 in 2006. At age 16 in 2008 she played Jelena Jankovic in the first round of the US Open on Arthur Ashe Court. Although she lost, it was an amazing experience for her to play there against such a great player. She went on that year to win the US Open Girl’s Championship.
Today at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan, she reached the round of 16 by a straight set 6-4, 6-4 victory over the 14th seed, Aravane Rezai. Along the way she fought through the qualifiers by defeating two seeded qualifiers, #12 Tathiana Garbin and #2 Jamilla Groth. Garbin was the player whom she had previously defeated in 2009 at LA for her first WTA win. Groth was coming off her first tournament win in China where she defeated Alla Kudryavtseva in the finals. In the first round she faced Klara Zakopalova who two days earlier played in the finals in Korea. Vandeweghe has yet to lose a set in her four matches.
Coco comes from a long line of sports figures. Her mother, Tauna, was on two US Olympic teams in swimming in 1976 and volleyball in 1984. Her grandfather and uncle both played basketball in the NBA. Her uncle was general manager of the New Jersey Nets. Another uncle played pro beach volleyball and her aunt was on a tennis scholarship at Stanford as well as a polo player. Coco is also a member of a team – the Boston Lobsters of the World Team Tennis pro league.
Vandeweghe’s next match will be against twenty one year old Julia Goerges, the 42nd ranked German. Goerges and her 35th ranked country woman, Andrea Petkovic, are leading a resurgence in women’s tennis in Germany. It won’t be an easy road for Coco. She already lost to Petkovic in Cincinnati this year, but with the points she has already won Vandeweghe will move into the top ten of US players for the first time.
It seems like my career as a fan has paralleled Coco’s. I saw her play in her first tournament at San Diego in 2006. I saw her play Jankovic in Ashe in 2008 and watched her in LA that year. I saw her beat Zvonareva at San Diego this year. Her coach set directly behind me in the third row. And I watched her play at the US Open this year. (photo: sr_cranks)