Tennis Prose



Coco Gauff Dazzles in WTA Debut

She came, she saw and she conquered. Coco Gauff won Roland Garros juniors, finaled at an ITF pro event in Arizona earlier this year and today she made her WTA main tour debut a successful one with a 36 63 64 win over Caty McNally.

Court 7 was full to capacity, with some heavyweight tennis figures watching the thrilling battle – Tony Godsick, Sven Groenveld, Patrick Mouratoglou, Robby Poole, photo man Paul Zimmer, Kyrgios agent John Morris and Kathy Rinaldi.

The match had a similar aura to the famous Anna Kournikova vs Martina Hingis junior US Open showdown on old grandstand that was won by Hingis 60 60.

Both players showed their best tennis, Gauff is a smart baseliner with a big bomb serve and ground strokes and also showed strong volleying late in the match. She also showed the heart of a champion, erasing a one set deficit with a quiet but fierce rally where she made adjustments such as using lobs and changing trajectories.

McNally began to miss more, even a few volleys. What a superb volleyer McNally is, maybe the best in the WTA with Ash Barty.

Sven Groenveld was seated next to me and he praised McNally’s deliberate, professional demeanor. Gauff also looked like a veteran pro, showing no signs of immaturity or mental weakness. If McNally made a great play she looked at her box for a second as if to say, That was just too good, then she got back to business.

Gauff trailed 2-4 in the third and her box yelled at her to “make it physical, make it physical!” Gauff responded to the verbal inspiration and became more patient and harnessed her firepower and mixed in patient slower balls and waited for the right time for the kill shot. She also said she stopped spinning her serves too much and just went for it. The tactics worked and Gauff introduced herself to the pro tennis world with a brilliant display.

The two had a nice embrace at net. They played the Roland Garros singles final – also won by Gauff in three sets – and are friendly but of course they know they are destined to be rivals.

Gauff charmed the media after her debut win and shared some good quotes for the assembled press group of four journalists.

“I still don’t believe that I won,” Gauff said afterward. “After the match, I served for the match and I was, like, ‘Do I have to return again, or do we shake hands? I didn’t really think it was over.’

“This is a dream, like, I have been dreaming of this moment for years, just playing in the Miami Open. And I have been coming to this tournament since I was eight or nine years old. Watching the players here and actually being in the same tournament, being in the same area as players that I’ve watched since practically I was born, it’s so surreal to me.”


Gauff is well aware of McNally’s skillset, but she was able to hit this week with the likes of Andrea Petkovic, Monica Puig and Nick Kyrgios.

“I know she has good hands, because I’ve played doubles with her, but just trying to make her prove that she has good hands, if that makes sense, just trying to make her play volleys,” Gauff said. “I know she’s going to make the volley, but you never know, you get lucky. She had unreal hands, unreal hands the whole match. I think she won more net points than she lost, for sure. You never know. You get lucky, she misses a volley at the right time, you never know.”

“It kind of helped, obviously, because I knew her tendencies, but also I think it helps her, like, we both kind of had advantage because know each other’s games very well,” Gauff said. “I think that anyone could have won today, and I think the match just was really decided by two or three points.”

“My goal for every tournament is to win the tournament,” Gauff said. “I don’t want to say I will just win this next match and be done. My goal is to win the tournament. I’m going to keep that goal there and just keep fighting for it.”

She also signed a deal with Barilla Pasta, adding another sponsor to her growing team of New Balance and Head.

Gauff also did an interview on Tennis Channel and said to Brett Haber and Chanda Rubin: “I still run to the TV every time I hear my name on Tennis Channel.”

Get ready to see a lot of Coco Gauff on Tennis Channel and ESPN in the coming years.




  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Coco plays Kasatkina next and that will probably be a baseline battle and on recent form, won by Coco.
    Barty dismissed Yastremska easily – I’m a bit disappointed in Yastremska, although she’s still under 20 she hasn’t followed up a couple of good wins last year. Another Kostyuk ?

    Caroline Garcia emerged from a major slump (except in Fed Cup) and closed the door on Azarenka. Fisette may have hitched himself to a falling star.

    Naomi Osaka (yes, not her sister) all over Vogue.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 3:23 am

    One of the reasons for Garcia’s slump is her footwork which is pretty sluggish. I don’t remember that when she was playing well. Also missed some setup volleys which she would not have done a couple of years ago. Expect her out next round.Needs some training and a coach not her father. But that won’t happen.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Coco said she is in this to WIN the tournament not a few rounds and go home. TO WIN. She is confident. I smell an upset today of Kasatkina who is low on confidence. Not sure why Garcia is stagnant, like you say Catherine, probably needs a new voice, new energy.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    And Sabalenka seems to be another one who’s losing her bearings. Out in just over an hour to Tomjlanovic. What’s happening to some of these girls ? – they reach about 20 yrs old and pouff…you wonder how Aryna ever reached No 9. Coach might be taking a walk soon. Nothing much in it for him.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Won’t be an upset if Cori beats Kasatkina. Daria has won precisely 1 match this year.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Ostapenko was up 53 but lost to Vondrouskova 75, too many errors. Glen Shopp is her coach. Some nice pooints Su Wei Hsieh crushed Riske 61 75.

  • Hartt · March 22, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Bianca won 6-3, 6-3 over Sofia Kenin. Because the stupid Canadian sports channels did not get the rights to WTA matches, I could not see the match but, from the score at least, it looks like a fairly easy match for Bianca.

  • Hartt · March 22, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Kasatkina won against Gauff 6-3, 6-2. Her slump wasn’t going to last forever. 🙂

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Hartt – I’m glad Kasatkina won that match. There’s always pressure when you’re playing prodigies. The score looked pretty decisive and might cheer Dasha up a bit. She’s had an awful start to the season.

    Coverage is not as good as IW – no free streaming and odd highlights. Might improve as the tournament goes on.

    Vondrousova is quite a good player, from what I’ve seen.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Blowout for Bianca, revenge against Kenin from the 57 in third loss in Acapulco semis. Gauff out to Kasatkina, saying she was here to win the title which is in essence calling Kastakina a stepping stone.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Osaka press conference. She said when she plays a match she doesn’t think she’s no. 1 in the world or that she won two Grand Slams, she thinks it’s another match and she wants to win. She picked Jenkins as coach because she knew he was with Venus for a long time and she wants to have a coach who stays with her for a long time, she doesn’t want to be changing coaches ever year. She said he’s very positive. She said her next opponent Hsieh is very unpredictable, she doesn’t know what’s coming, she has a good slice and drop shot. She has everything. It’s hard to play your game when you don’t know what is coming next. She said she used to be hyper on court but she has that under control now.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Muguruza out – watching Serena live v Petersen – she looks good for the match. Sharp and moving better, as if she’s now used to her ‘new’ body. Although this match isn’t much of a test.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Gauff ought to be careful making comments like that. I know she’s only 15 but there’s such a thing as respect even though you have great ambitions. The ‘stepping-stone’ turned slippery today.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Catherine, she didn’t call Kasatkina a step stone directly but by saying she is here to win this title and expects to is like saying Kasatkina is just a step stone to that end. She would have been better off to say nothing and she will learn that but she is young and confident and she wants to make her intentions known. Yes it’s better to talk quiet and carry a big stick.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Serena looks finished. Just lost the second set to Rebecca Peterson 61 after winning the first 63. She looks finished. Not moving well, watching winners go by from a journeywoman.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Serena digs deep and roars showing her trademark emotional adrenaline in that important first game of the third set. She roared and yelled and fist pumped and won that game and then the next two. Using emotional adrenaline saves her again. Peterson cant match that intensity. Serena was forced to bring out her beast again and it saved her.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Scoop – yes I watched that and thought the match showed maybe how another player could beat Serena if she keeps the pressure up, as Peterson couldn’t do, and stopped the adrenaline surge. Serena’s concentration is possibly not what it used to be.

    Kerber taken to 3 by Muchova. Right in Serena’s match the stream switched to Angie and the fans went mad – camera came back to Serena quickly 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Catherine, I think Serena is reluctant to bring out her beast though after US Open Osaka disaster. She knows when she brings out that beast mode anything can happen, jokers are wild, crazy things can happen. The threat of losing to a journeywoman like Peterson was enough stimulus though to have to bring out the beast. Yell scream fist pump, she did it and it saved the match. Luckily she only had to do it that first game of the third set, it seemed to scare Peterson who faltered badly. But things will only get tougher for Serena, she will surely need her beast mode again. And then it’s unknown what can happen. Another crazy serena scene can erupt.

  • catherine · March 22, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Kerber’s reward is a replay with Andreescu. Form predicts a quick exit for Angie and plenty of time to prepare for the clay. Scoop might say Angie tried hard to subconciously tank v qualifier Muchova but her pride wouldn’t allow that to happen 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Catherine, I suspect Kerber will want revenge on Andreescu and getting a shot to pummel a fatigued nemesis will motivate Kerber. No subconscious tank alert.

  • catherine · March 23, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Angie was certainly behind the door when the Good Fairy was handing out serves at her birth – she dropped serve 3 times in the first set. I don’t know if it’s something to do with her body build but she’s never developed a consistent smooth action. Can’t seem to get traction from her strong legs and the whole thing falls apart when she’s nervous and under pressure. So no free points, something which has saved lesser players many times.

  • catherine · March 23, 2019 at 3:36 am

    Muchova seems to me quite a promising player – 22 but with a solid game and good forehand. The Czech model ?

    Kerber had strapping on her right thigh. Doesn’t augur well for playing Bianca, but maybe precautionary. Still think Andreescu will be too strong. Angie will have to be tip top all the way and I don’t know if that’s possible.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2019 at 8:12 am

    I keep thinking that Bianca has to be exhausted, and that she can’t keep winning everything in sight. But she continues to come through, so I have no idea what to expect in her match against Angie. Bianca will have 2-3 weeks off after Miami, sounds like an excellent idea.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 23, 2019 at 8:30 am

    If Kerber gets pounded again by Andreescu it will be damaging for her psyche. Kids are not supposed to be beating or pushing veterans to their limits, like Osuigwe did last night to Collins who has a new coach. Collins was in full Serena beast mode to save set points in the first but survived it somehow. Osuigwe impressed me more in defeat. Very cool, poised, good form, power, doesn’t miss. Incredible show by her at just 16. To force Collins to have to summon her all out beast Serena mode of yelling screaming cmon and fist pumping like a wild woman. Fantastic match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 23, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Vondrouskova the lefty has now beat Ostapenko two weeks in a row. Too many errors and dumb shots by the Latvian



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