Tennis Prose



Biofile: Danielle Collins Interview




By Scoop Malinowski

In her first full year on the WTA Tour, this American newcomer established herself as a top 40 player and a potential future champion. After a successful college career that included two NCAA singles titles at University of Virginia, the 24 year old emerged this year with a 33-21 WTA record, ascending from a ranking of 162 in January to a season-end rank of 35. Her excellent year included a surprising semifinal run at the Miami Open, after qualifying for the main draw. In the quarterfinal, Collins demolished Venus Williams 63 62 before falling in the semi to Jelena Ostapenko 76 63. At the US Open, Collins lost first round to red hot Aryna Sabalaneka 64 in the third. 2019 promises to be an interesting year for this rising force who is currently hard at work training with coach Pat Harrison at IMG in Bradenton.

Status: WTA ranking 35.

DOB: December 13, 1993 in St. Petersburg, FL

Height: 5-10

First Tennis Memory:  “Crawling on the court when my dad (Wally) would play his league matches. (age?) Probably like one or two.”

Tennis Inspirations:  “Hingis. The Williams sisters. Kournikova. Who else…Wozniacki. Sharapova.”

Last Book Read:  “Ghosted.”

First Famous Player You Met or Encountered:  “Justine Henin at Saddlebook (age 10).”

Greatest Career Moment:  “Beating Venus Williams (at Miami Open). Pretty cool.”

Most Painful Moment:  “…painful moment…probably having wrist surgery after I won NCAA my sophomore year.”

Current Car:  “I drive an Audi Q3 (white).”

Favorite Tournaments:  “Indian Wells, Fed Cup and Australian Open.”

Funniest Players Encountered:  “Madison Brengle for sure…Christian Harrison.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  “Mint chocolate chip.”

Funny Tennis Memory:  “There’s a lot. We’re always laughing out here… that’s a good question…probably falling on my face in Wuhan. Bad fall. Really bad fall.”

Strangest Match:  “Playing Sonia Kenin in a semifinal in Norman, Oklahoma last year. Really windy. And all the referee’s chairs were flying around the court. Ridiculous. (Who won?) I did.”

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: “Hockey.”

Three Athletes You Like To Watch:  “Lebron James…I’m just not like a fan person. Alex Killorn from hockey (Tampa Lightning).”

Why Do You Love Tennis:  “I love tennis because I think competition makes everyone better. And I love embracing the challenge of competition.”

Fiercest Competitors Encountered:  “…I think Coco Vandeweghe.”

Closest Tennis Friends:  “Madison Brengle. Tom Fawcett. Sonia Kenin. Allison Riske. Nicole Melichar. Who else…that’s about it.”

People Qualities Most Admired:  “Enthusiastic. Witty. And honest.”

Which Match(es) Were You At Your Best:  “There’s been a lot of good ones…(Beating Venus?)…I don’t feel I actually played my best tennis that match but I was still able to win. I didn’t serve well. (Maybe a college match?) … (Maybe it hasn’t happened yet?)…Hasn’t happened yet. Good option [smiles].”






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  • Dan Markowitz · November 26, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Now here’s a player who comes across as being witty and intelligent. I know she’s a college grad. That might have a lot to do with it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 26, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Collins is an interesting player in many ways. She has a big upside. She crushed Venus in Miami QF with a breakout performance. She also lost to Sabalanka 64 in the third 1R US Open, Sabalenka took Osaka down to the wire 64 or 75 in the third in the second week QF or SF and could have won that match and won the Open. Collins is right there. I saw Collins practicing drop shots and lobs at Miami Open – when have you ever seen a WTA player working on those shots? She has the power game too.

  • Coachskelly · November 26, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Scoop!Small world!!I knew her day Wally way back in late 70’s and early 80’s from the Shipwatch tennis club in Indian Springs,Fla!!
    He was a good friend and a serious battler on the courts!!
    Lost contact many years ago!!Great guy!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Coach Skelly, Collins is a real Rocky Balboa story Red Ayme told me today, came up the hard way, didnt work out with coach at Florida, transferred to UVA, barely qualified for the NCAA singles tournament, last girl in the draw, and won as unseeded player. Dad is a landscaper, mom is a school teacher. Minimal funding. Now look at her – 35 in the world. She was grinding so hard today in practice sets with a male junior who looked like a pro. brutal points. Really working hard …in November. My girl won her 14s match today at Herr, helping her all week to get ready, she won 62 60 but it was the toughest 6260 I ever saw. Brutal long points. Just kept her down. Mi Lan is her name, from NJ, excellent player, into the 2R in her first international tournament.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Scoop, how’d you hook up with New Jersey player? That sounds like a story in itself. I bumped into Jamie Loeb at the USTA National Tennis Center in New York when Cal was playing the National’s 12’s (he lost in the 2nd round of Consolation draw to the no. 14th-ranked player in the nation, after winning first set 6-2). Jamie is from Westchester and is no. 183 in the world at 23. I looked her up, and she played 30 tournaments this year (she’d just come from playing indoor events in Europe to finishing season at HOuston event). Only two players, Rodina the only player in the top 100, played more than 30 tournaments this year, so Loeb is a warrior. Very nice young woman, smiling and seemed pleased when I knew who she was.

    Collins could be an interesting player to watch, but she kind of disappointed I felt after Miami.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 26, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Loeb is making slow steady progress, like Collins. This is her first full year in the WTA main tour, there’s going to be ups and downs. The Miami run took a lot out of Collins, it was the best run of her tennis career, there had to be a letdown after such a surge of greatness. I met Mi Lan via a Chinese group of serious avid tennis players that I am connected with, players from FL and NJ, some I know for many years. Mi Lan played the best guy and beat him 80 and 62 62 and we worked it out for me to play her on Sunday after she arrived from NJ to compete at Eddie Herr. We had a great hit with me and two friends who are strong players. And we hit again today to get her ready. She came down with her mom and lil sister, so to have support and company always helps. We hit again tomorrow before the 2R match. I could not have been more impressed today, she is an excellent player, intelligent, power, moves well, like Bouchard and Li Na. And a tremendous competitor plays her best on the biggest points. Like 4-2 first set down break point and she won that huge point and rolled from there. After being up 4-1 with points for 5-1. Her opponent was great too, so many long fast hard fought points. Just wouldn’t let her in the match. Five star recruit already, also playing Orange Bowl. Just turned 14.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 26, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Here is a video of our set and a half. Can’t believe my forehand looks like the McEnroe push! This video was shot on Saturday at Bayfront Park Longboat Key where myself and Dan bumped into Michelle Larcher De Brito a few years ago.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 26, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Pretty impressive, Scoop. That forehand of yours is funky. I explained to Callum that playing you would be tough because even though you’re not hitting the ball with weight and pace of some of these juniors, you would disrupt their games. You don’t miss much; you move very well and you have very good touch. Thanks for the video.

  • Chazz · November 27, 2018 at 9:56 am

    I thought Collins had some really bad blowout losses in the second half of the year. Maybe she was drained, but losing 0 & 2 to Tsurenko and 0 & 3 to Yastremska were not good. Hope she gets it together again in 2019.

    Scoop, I find those back cameras to minimize the actual pace of the ball, so I’m sure you two are hitting with more pace than it appears.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 27, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Collins is in her rookie year, still adjusting to the tour life, travel, pressures, peaking, it’s a new world. Bad losses are going to happen. No easy opponents. She had an excellent year, maybe better than she even expected. 162 to 35 in the world is remarkable. Yes, our match looks like almost pushing but her power and my best shots don’t look as fast as they felt. Mi Lan won an incredible match today vs the best defensive player I ever saw, Alexia Harmon from Vegas I think. Absolutely incredible defense and also good power when she goes for it, incredible ball control and patience but Lan hung in there after losing first set 36, broke at love for 10, held 20 and was back in it. She became more patient and waited for the right time to go for the winner. 63 62. I wish I could tell you what incredible display of tennis this was in heavy winds which favored her because Lan plays indoors in NJ for the last three months. R16 tomorrow at 10 am.



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