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Tue, July 23

Howard: Coco Gauff makes incredible Wimbledon run, despite loss
My Point

Coco Gauff the fifteen year old tennis phenom, going into the 2nd week at Wimbledon, the fourth round to be exact, had the run most players only dream of.

Gauff unfortunately lost to former No. 1 Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3.

Given a last minute wild card to play in the qualifying rounds of Wimbledon and a WTA ranking of 319, Gauff jumped on a plane and off she went to grab a little more seasoning and now she’s becoming a household name.

After winning a spot in the main draw she’s gone through Venus Williams (5-time Wimbledon Champion) 6-4, 6-4, Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-3 who has a No. 60 ranking...round 2. Round 3 a really tough match against #56 Polona Hereog 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in saving two match points.

The poise has been astounding for this 5-foot-9 calm and focused teen sensation who says, “I am not going to be the next Serena Williams, I’m going to be the first Cori “Coco” Gauff.”

It started as a youngster watching Serena and Venus on television and they have been her tennis idols.

Both of her parents were outstanding athletes playing Division 1 college sports. Her father Corey played basketball for Georgia State and her mother Candi ran track and field for Florida State. Corey has been his daughter’s primary coach and her mother has been over-seeing the home schooling so Coco can/could concentrate on becoming the “Best women tennis player ever.”

So at the age of 6 Coco got the opportunity to take up the game of tennis and loved the individuality of what it offered. Soon after she won her first national title, the “Little Mo” 8 and under Nationals. After that she was hooked and off and running.

At age 10 she was training at Patrick Mouratoglou’s Tennis Academy in France when she could swing the time (Serena’s coach). At that same age, she won the USTA National 12’s.

By 13 she was playing at the highest junior level of the ITF and doing quite well. In 2018 a quarter finalist or better at the junior French, Wimbledon and winner of the U.S. Open, giving her the No. 1 junior girls ranking.

In May of 2018 she won her first professional match and started playing a few smaller professional challenger tournaments. One of them in Surprise, Arizona, where she lost in the finals and won the doubles event.

Her ranking reached a high of 299 before her Wimbledon run to the fourth round.

This “Cinderella Story” has no limits at the moment, and at the age of 15 with continued success, Ms. Gauff could be a breath of fresh air to help take up the slack as Serena and Venus stroll into the sun set.

The journey has been a slow but steady path to see just how far Coco could go. Her maturity is beyond her years.

It doesn’t hurt to start accumulating sponsors and Coco has three good ones, Head (racquets), New Balance (shoes) and Barilla who also sponsors Roger Federer.

Others in the past who have had break out junior years making it into the professional ranks that come to mind in the Open era are:

Chris Evert - Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati.

This Delray Beach, Florida resident is now on her way to it seems tennis stardom. Time will truly tell the story.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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