By PAUL FEIN
Where have all the teen queens gone?
You may remember how Chrissie Evert, Tracy Austin, and Jennifer Capriati enchanted us with their precocity in the '70s, '80s and '90s. These adorable assassins too young to vote knocked off their elders to win Grand Slam and Olympic titles.
But not since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova shocked Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final, and 19-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open two months later, has a teenager grabbed a major title. This decade, tennis pundits said it couldn't be done - not anymore. Supposedly, women's tennis had become too powerful for callow teenage rs to upset today's sluggers. JelenaOstapenko almost proved the conventional wisdom wrong last year when she captured the French Open just two days after turning 20.
Now an exciting new kid on the block looks a lot like an accelerating train destined to run over everyone in the 2020s. If you haven't heard of her already, I'd like to introduce you to Cori Gauff. At just 14 years and three months old, this wunderkind won the French Open girls' (18-and-under) title in June. "Coco" displayed a flair for the dramatic on championship point against Caty McNally, another talented American. In a net showdown, she leaped and struck a forehand volley winner for a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 comeback victory.
On July 17, the International Tennis Federation announced Coco became the youngest junior world No.1 at 14 years and 4 months since the combined rollover ranking was introduced in 2004.
Coco has idolized Serena and Venus Williams ever since she started playing at age 6 in Delray Beach.
"I grew up watching them," says Coco."I started playing tennis because of them."
Though she doesn't know either superstar well, she's crossed paths with Serena a few times. Four years ago, Coco first met Serena on a set where Serena was filming a commercial. She portrayed Serena as a young girl. Wouldn't it be fascinating if Coco happens to play her idol, now 36, in a pro tournament before she retires?
The kid and the legend also have a French connection. Patrick Mouratoglou, who has coached Serena to 10 of her 23 Grand Slam titles, created the Champ Seed Foundation three years ago at his tennis academy outside Paris. Mouratoglou's highly regarded program not only develops gifted teenagers but helps them financially because playing tournaments around the world is extremely expensive. Coco, the youngest player training at the academy, clearly caught the eye of Mouratoglou.
"We weren't sure if Patrick would be interested because the idea of the Champ Seed is to help girls turn pro," recalls Corey Gauff, Coco's father and coach. "Coco was only 11 so she was quite a few years away from that. But Patrick seemed to be pleased with her effort and determination. So the relationship grew from there. He makes sure we have all the things we need to be successful. He's really helped her develop her game, especially her clay-court game. She certainly has the hard-court skills."
Coco showcased her hard-court prowess at the 2017 US Open junior event. Being the youngest competitor in the draw at 13 didn't faze her in the least. Coco pulled upset after upset to become the youngest girls' singles finalist ever at the US Open. There the more experienced Amanda Animisova, a smooth-stroking, 16-year-old American, prevailed 6-1, 7-6.
Chalk up much of the marked improvement in Coco's game from the 2017 US Open to the 2018 French Open to experience.
"The biggest difference is that she's been through it [a major final] one time," explains her father. "At 13, she really couldn't start playing at the ITF level until after March . By the time she got to the French Open, she had a full year at that level. And she got to play a pro tournament before that. So the added maturity and the experience of playing tougher players helped. Also, she got bigger, and she had something to draw from the US Open and the Australian Open, where she lost in the first round and she was upset and mad. So she went back to work, worked hard, and tried to be better the next time out."
* Athletic Genes
Like Serena and Venus, Coco possesses athletic genes and a powerful, 5'9 ", 160-pound physique, and she's still growing. The athletic pedigree comes from her 6' 2" father who played basketball at Georgia State University, and her mother, Candi, a gymnast and a track star. Coco's still-developing serve peaked at an astounding 120 miles per hour at the Wimbledon girls' event, making it the third-fastest female serve at the entire tournament behind only Serena's 125 mph and Venus's 123 mph.
Coco played a lot of basketball and ran track, including 5 Ks, when she was 11 and 12. Her heavy tennis schedule ended her involvement in other sports, but she learned valuable lessons from them. "The years of basketball and track really helped her," says Corey. "She loved tennis more, but she also knows the training and discipline it takes to become a champion."
Coco also transferred some athletic skills, such as hand-eye coordination, speed and agility, from those sports to tennis.
As her dazzling volley on championship point demonstrated, her athleticism already compares favorably with leading WTA pros.
"I've always said Coco has world-class athleticism," says Corey. "Now she's trying to turn that athleticism into becoming a solid tennis player. I truly believe if she had chosen track, she could have run college track and made a push for the Olympics. I've played basketball, and there's no doubt in my mind she could become a WNBA basketball player had she focused on that. She's blessed with fast-twitch muscles, length, speed, and quickness."
No matter how athletic you are, topnotch strokes and footwork are what separates the best from the rest on the pro tours. Here Coco is a work in progress, though she has no glaring weaknesses.
"She's pretty solid all around," Corey says. "I'd describe her game as an aggressive baseliner who looks to finish at the net. She tried to get easy points with her serve, and her serve plus one [the next shot]. All of her strokes have to be improved. She has to continue to improve her net game. She has to improve her hand skills. The one thing that carries her as she continues to improve is her desire to win, her willingness to fight. Whether she is down or up in the set, she fights for every point. That helps her get through the holes in her game right now."
To correct those holes, Coco periodically attends the Mouratoglou academy. While a team of coaches instruct Coco, Mouratoglou mentors Corey, her full-time coach at home. The Gauffs have stayed two or three weeks at a time at the academy and started training there for longer periods of time after Wimbledon.
In a sport occasionally besmirched by "bad dads" - such as the abusive Jim Pierce, the violent Marinko Lucic, the obtuse Stefano Capriati, and the self-destructive Peter Graf - Corey has successfully navigated the fraught role of father-coach with some help from his wife.
"I'm the mediator between the two," says Candi. "You have to be when you're coaching a girl. A man can forget he's coaching a female. So I have to make sure he understands that females are different from males. I have teaching experience with children, so I have to help him with learning styles."
* Mother Knows Best
What advice does Candi give? "Your delivery has to be different with a female than with a male," Candi explains. "Females internalize what their dad is saying, not what their coach is saying. I've advised my husband that when you're saying something, you have to explain why you're saying it. And you do it in a more relaxed way."
Like former prodigies Evert, Austin, Capriati, Sharapova, and Monica Seles, the all-business Gauff already handles big-match pressure with the poise of a veteran. "I've learned to stay calm during the pressure moments and always stick to my game plan," Coco says.
"Coco has to compartmentalize her personality," Candi explains. "On the court, her mind-set is different because she's always dealt with older people when she's performing, so she has had to make decisions on that level. Off the court, she's developing like someone her age. She wants to play and enjoy life and have a good time. On the court, she's serious and has business to take care of. She has to be very disciplined. So she has personalities that fit the occasion."
Another key to Coco's success is her structured family life that has given her a normal adolescence. Home-schooled and an honor roll student, she takes advanced courses in language arts and is on the fast track in math. Coco says, "Science is my favorite subject because I like doing experiments."
Candi says, "Home-schooling gives her the best opportunity to succeed both academically and athletically. That gives her more time on the courts." Even so, Coco does far more than hitting tennis balls for hours and hours.
"As parents, we're very vigilant to make sure that she has the most normal childhood given her abnormal circumstances," Candi says. "That means making sure she's involved in activities outside of tennis like her dance ministry at church, being part of the choir at church, going to social outings with her siblings, announcing at baseball games, and just being involved in the community. We have a large family, so we've made sure she'd had avenues outside of tennis."
Her parents also monitor her physical well-being. They're well aware that too much tennis prematurely ended the careers of injury-plagued teen stars Andrea Jaeger and Austin in the early 1980s.
"We don't do any weightlifting or [special] training. We're trying to let her body grow naturally," notes Corey. "We want her to get a lot of rest. She's done cross-training and other activities that help you learn, not necessarily tennis, but to compete better. At Delray Beach, we called it 'having that dog inside.' That's what we try to focus on. That she's ready to fight, no matter what. The one who wants to win it the most trumps the one with all the strokes."
Coco's never-say-die competitiveness will draw comparisons with Serena, especially her shouts of "Come on!" after winning big points.
"She just loves competing," says Candi.
On her tennis goals, confident Coco harbors a Serena-like ambition. "My goal in tennis is to win Grand Slams and be No. 1," she says. "I want to be the greatest."
The last word on the American prodigy who could become the next Serena comes from Mouratoglou. "She is fantastic," he said in an Omnisport interview. "She can become a top, top player. I believe in her a lot."
By JIM MARTZ
If not for the encouragement I received from Arthur Ashe, Florida Tennis magazine might never have been started.
In September of 1991, I was in the first row of the press box at Louis Armstrong Stadium while covering the U.S. Open for the Miami Herald. Looking over my shoulder from the row behind me was Ashe, who was writing columns for the Washington Post.
I had known Arthur for nearly two decades. His years as director of tennis at Doral Resort and Club in Miami coincidentally were the years I was the Herald's tennis writer.
That fall I was thinking of leaving the newspaper and starting a tennis magazine that would focus on Florida, America's Most Important Tennis State. That would mean no more weekly pay checks or all-expenses paid trips to the U.S. Open. The next check I'd see would be from an advertiser, if anyone would want to place one in a magazine that had no track record. And I had never sold an ad or even thought about it.
I mentioned my aspirations and apprehensions to Arthur. He encouraged me to take a leap of faith and suggested I look at Bill Simons' Inside Tennis in California as a guideline. And a few months later I did just that, and Florida Tennis is in its 27th year of serving as the Voice of Tennis in Florida.
Ashe inspired countless people world wide in numerous ways. He transcended tennis as an activist, writer and commentator, and he did so with humility, grace and class..
He died on Feb. 6, 1993, at age 49 from AIDS-related pneumonia due to a tainted blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery. A month later I wrote a tribute in Florida Tennis under the headline "Ashe Legacy Will Continue in State." That's still true.
He would have turned 75 this July 10. It has been 25 years since his passing and 50 years since he won the first U.S. Open.
Ashe was born and raised in segregated Richmond, Va., earned a degree in business administration at UCLA, joined the Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In addition to winning the U.S. Open he also won Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
He was the first African-American chosen for the U,S. Davis Cup team, and he was selected as team captain. He served as president of the ATP and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In retirement from the tour he founded the ABC Cities Tennis Program, the Safe Passage Foundation, the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He published the three-volume A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete. He fought apartheid in South Africa and was arrested protesting outside the White House the U.S. policy toward Haitian refugees.
I know of numerous ways Ashe impacted lives in Florida, including a 12-year-old from Coral Gables, Brooks Strawser, who had cystic fibrosis, an incurable lung disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was a charity of the ATP Tour, and Ashe appeared with Brooks in a fund-raising commercial.
Most kids who had CF in those days died in their teens. But as Brooks lived into young adulthood and earned a degree from the University of Florida, Ashe regularly kept in touch with him and offered encouragement.
In 1992, shortly after riots in Los Angeles, Ashe met with his long-time friend Butch Buchholz, the founder of what is now known as the Miami Open, and said Miami was a strong candidate to be like the Los Angeles riots. Buchholz subsequently met with business leaders and Jeb Bush, son of president George H.W. Bush, and launched the Good Life Mentoring Program at five Miami area high schools.
Several times in the 1980s Ashe hit with kids on the public courts at Moore Park northwest of downtown Miami.
"He didn't have to do it and didn't do it for publicity," recalls Bobby Curtis, who was tennis director at what is now called Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center at Moore Park.
At the Arthur Ashe Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, students learn about the school's namesake simply by walking through the Arthur Ashe Patriot Hall on the second floor. It's lined with quotations from Ashe and from others about him, including former president Bill Clinton and James Blake, director of the Miami Open.
One Ashe quote also appears near his statue at the U.S. Open: "From what we can get we make a living; what we give, however, makes a life."
A player Ashe mentored from his hometown of Richmond, Rodney Harmon, became the second African-American to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals. He later served as a USTA National Coach in South Florida, was head men's tennis coach at the University of Miami, and was tennis director at Deeerwood Country Club in Jacksonville.
Harmon says Ashe "was someone who was of a different dynamic, because he transcended the sport ... He wasn't afraid to identify himself as an activist and make the world better for other people. Sometimes we are in the midst of angels and don't realize it until they're gone. We don't realize we're in the presence of greatness."
By JIM MARTZ
My initial reaction when I heard that the Miami Open would move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019 was: What? You can't play tennis in a cavernous stadium built for football, futbol and concerts. It's a gimmick. The tennis world will snicker.
Then I looked into the pluses and minuses and came up with 10 reasons why this will be a great move:
* Most important of all, this keeps the tournament in the Greater Miami area where it belongs. The event has outgrown the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne, and its hands are tied by local officials in attempts to make much needed improvements. Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, stepped forward and worked a deal with IMG to bring the tournament to home of the Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes.
* A tournament move to the highest bidder, perhaps Dubai, Hong Kong, or Singapore, would have left the United States with just two major men's and women's tournament: the U.S. Open and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, that precedes the Miami Open.
* A move to Orlando would have kept the tournament in Florida, which would be great, and the USTA probably would have sought to stage it at the USTA National Campus, the dazzling one-year-old, 100-court tennis complex near the Orlando Airport. But that site would have faced many of the problems hampering the current Miami Open site: thousands of people driving down a two-lane road through upscale communities that don't want them around.
* No more parking problems. The lots at Hard Rock Stadium already can accommodate crowds of 65,000. As anyone who has attended the Miami Open knows, parking can be a nightmare. And thousands of attendees have to park miles away and ride a bus to the site.
* No more traffic problems, with an asterisk. Unless you arrive very early or very late for matches on Key Biscayne, you will be stuck in bumper-to-bumper crawl getting onto the Rickenbacker Causeway and then for miles going to the site. I heard it took ATP star Dominic Theim an hour and a half to get from his Brickell hotel in downtown Miami to a match last year. Hard Rock Stadium is adjacent to Florida's Turnpike. Yes, there will be problems for drivers going north on I-95 to the Turnpike at rush hour. So go earlier if possible. Or take NW 27th Avenue. Maybe Metrorail if the extension to NW 27th is built.
* The new site will make it easier for tennis fans from Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties to attend, and for those coming across I-75 from Naples and Fort Myers. And it's just a three-hour trip from Orlando.
* ATP and WTA players will be very happy. The space for their fitness workouts, for the player lounge and for their meals will be triple what it is now. They currently eat in a tent. Plus the new Grandstand court will have its own fitness center and players lounge. At the current Grandstand court, if a player needs to take a restroom break during a match he or she has to ride in a golf cart across the site to the stadium. Or stand in line at a Port-O-Let.
* There will be 29 courts at the new site, nine more than at Crandon Park. All players will be able to practice on site; they won't have to trek down the road to the Ritz Carlton courts or wherever.
* The new tennis complex will be open to the public during non-tournament time, just as it is at Crandon Park Tennis Center.
* Yes, the tropical setting of Key Biscayne and that gorgeous view of Biscayne Bay, cruise ships and the Miami skyline will be gone. But the tournament won't be. And Stephen Ross does things first class. He will create a tropical setting and food court area that will be impressive. So are the skyboxes in Hard Rock Stadium. Ross has made several trips to Indian Wells to see what fellow billionaire Larry Ellison has done to that site, which many in the tennis world say has surpassed the Grand Slam venues. I suspect that billionaires like to one-up each other, so this Miami Open move could really be special.
By CAMERON MOFID
A top-ranked tennis professional, although alone on court, is supported by a variety of experts: at the very least, an ATP or WTA player usually travels with a tennis coach, a physiotherapist, and a fitness trainer. However, on championship Sunday of the 2018 Delray Beach Open, 64th world-ranked German Peter Gojowczyk was supported by a much more unpredictable team: I (who had just met Peter 10 days prior to that Sunday), along with an old friend of Peter's from 11 years prior and his friend's daughter were the ones accompanying him. In hindsight, perhaps the unforeseen makeup of his player's box that day was representative of his surprising run to the final that week.
As a tournament intern, I mainly worked in the credential office to ensure that staff, guests, and players received their official identification badges. The office maintained a hectic and lively vibe due to the volume of work. As mentioned, just one professional player could mean five or six additional credentials for his/her whole team.
This usually active environment made Peter's arrival all the more interesting, as he traveled to the tournament alone, just with his belongings and racquets. Surprised and inquisitive about his party of one, I offered to train with him the following afternoon and to my amazement we set up a 1p.m. court time for the next day.
Although I worried about not being high-level enough to meet his practice standards, I told myself to maintain a positive attitude and make as many balls in the court as possible. Peter was more than welcoming and found ways to make the training both efficient and enjoyable. We utilized practice strategies such as half-court controlled hitting, basket feeding, and serving/returning drills.
Before the tournament, I had the preconceived notion that the majority of top tennis professionals would be distant and not personable. And I didn't blame them. However, Peter's personality and approach to life completely reversed my prior stereotypes as he was extremely sociable and likeable. Before his first-round match, we had dinner in downtown Boca Raton and discussed a variety of topics: these included the challenges of constant travel, his passion for tennis, and his off-time activities.
Over the course of the next several days, one thing stood out to me most about Peter: he never let negative situations/results change his outlook on competition and he approached every match with the same humble mindset of competing to win. This persistent mentality has paid dividends in his career, as he has been quite injury prone and even had to retire in the third set of his second round match the preceding week in New York.
Peter retold the story of how he underwent surgery in 2014 (which sideline him for 6 months) and fought all the way back to a first ATP title in Metz last September, achieving a career high ranking of 61, all at the age of 28. On top of this were the personal situations that kept his coaching staff away for the week, but he remained undeterred and was solely ready for his on-court battles.
The only ATP singles player in the draw without a team, Peter took to the court on Tuesday morning against a fierce competitor in Slovak Lukas Lacko. After trailing a set and a break down due to Lukas' high level of play, Peter advanced in an exhausting three sets. As the only one in his player's box for his second-round encounter against 18th-ranked and big-serving John Isner, I was originally uncertain about Peter's chances due to Isner's often times overwhelming fire power. Over two and a half hours later, and 30 of Isner's blistering aces, Peter found himself in a third set down three match points at 5-6, 0-40. Following a touch high backhand volley that landed inches over the net, and some big serving of his own, Peter yet again advanced 7-6 (3); 6-7 (4); 7-6 (5).
Due to these big wins, Peter found himself in the media, where a childhood friend of his, Oto Patzner, discovered his presence in Florida. Oto worked at the Karlsfeld Club in Munich, where Peter trained when he was a junior. Years later, Peter began his journey on tour and Oto opened up a company in Florida to fulfill his American Dream. Oto asked his daughter, Nina, to contact Peter, knowing it was a long-shot. After finding a way to reach him, Oto connected with Peter for the first time in over 11 years.
For Peter's third round match he faced one more big server and Next Gen player Reilly Opelka. While Peter's box was made up of myself, Oto, and Nina, three people he most certainly would not have expected to see at the beginning of the week, there was more energy coming out of our side of the court than I had ever seen in a player's box before. Oto would chant "Go Peter, Go!" seemingly after every point, combined with an extended period of resounding applause. Perhaps it was this encouragement that provided Peter with the extra push to win the match.
Peter was now set to play Stevie Johnson, another top American and fan-favorite, in the semifinals. After producing a noteworthy performance, Peter came out on the winning end with to reach his second tour level final. A week that had began on his own, with a lingering foot injury, had transformed to one of the best weeks of his career. Peter was also subject to praise by fellow players, as Johnson graciously said, "He's really come out strong this year. He won't be ranked 60 or whatever he is for much longer."
German legend Boris Becker also congratulated Peter by way of a tweet, "#PeterGojowczyk sagenhaft (amazing)!!!"
While the energy from our side was yet again electric the following day, Peter lost the final to a rising American in Frances Tiafoe. Whether it was Oto and Nina's 5-hour round trip drives every day to support Peter, or simply a sensational click in his game, Peter cherished this week as one of the best in his professional journey. Following the week in Delray Beach, Peter ascended the rankings to world number 51, the highest he has ever reached. In describing the phenomena that was his miraculous week, Peter explained, "absolutely anything can happen. It's tennis."
Famously quoted by iconic movie character Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates" I have found that tennis, in a more microscopic outlook, is too like a box of chocolates. As Peter expressed to me: life on tour is composed of sporadic times, made up of the often unpredictable good and bad weeks. Fittingly, as Forrest so explained about his beloved chocolates, "You never know what you're going to get."
Cameron Mofid formerly competed on the ITF Junior Tour, where he held a junior world ranking. Cameron is now a contributing writer on his experiences traveling the world for the sport he loves.
By ADAM ROSS
May 2003 Tennis magazine signed by James Blake. Photo courtesy of the Adam Ross Collection.
James Blake has been named the tournament director for the 2018 Miami Open - the last Miami Open scheduled to be played at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne before the tournament moves to its new venue, Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens.
Blake was a high- ranked American tennis player and is one of the great ambassadors of the game. His career highlights include: 10 ATP titles; a career high ATP number 4 ranking; 2 Hopman Cup titles for the United States; he was also a key contributor for the United States 2007 Davis Cup championship team and in 2008 he reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics.
Blake is currently an analyst for the Tennis Channel and plays on the ATP Champions Tour. He is also the author of two books, "Breaking Back", which detailed his return to the ATP Tour after a serious injury and the death of his father, and "Ways of Grace" which addresses the ways in which sports can bring people of diverse backgrounds together. Blake's charitable work includes the creation of the James Blake Foundation, which focuses on quickly and efficiently turning lab discoveries into better treatments for patients. He also established the Thomas Blake, Sr. Memorial Research Fund, named after his father, to support cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Adam Ross is a volunteer for USTA Florida and is Vice President of the TGA/Tennis Collectors of America. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By EMILIO SANCHEZ
CEO and Founder at Academia Sánchez-Casal, Florida
Interview with Ramkumar Ramanathan, ATP world No. 135 and ASC player:
Ramkumar Ramanathan is one to watch at the Miami Open 2018. The Indian player jumped 143 spots last year in the singles ranking and is now ranked world No. 135. Also worth mentioning is his victory over world No. 6 Dominic Thiem at the Antalya Open in June 2017 (where he reached the quarterfinals), his first main draw qualification of a Masters 1000 tournament at Cincinnati Masters in August 2017, or his role as a No. 1 player at the India Davis Cup Team. However, the 23-year-old player is now facing one of his long-time aspired career goals: to compete in the Miami Open.
Ramkumar was first sent to Academia Sánchez-Casal Barcelona by the president of the Chennai Tennis Federation at the age of 14 from his hometown Chennai, India. He stayed at the academy 4 months then returned to India to play and win the U18 Nationals, at 15. Soon after, Ram started gaining confidence and playing better so ASC took a gamble and offered him a scholarship. He played all Futures, competed 35-40 weeks and in between tournaments trained at the academy.
Last year he called me at ASC Florida. He had been playing professionally for the last 2-3 years but couldn't reach the 200-ranking barrier. He asked me if we could help him accomplish his goals: reach the top 150 of the ATP ranking by the end 2017. We accepted the challenge and he's been training here since.
I recently interviewed him while he was preparing for the Miami Open.
ES: How was your debut as a junior player at ASC?
RR: I started playing tennis when I was 7 and at 14 the Chennai Tennis Federation brought me to ASC Barcelona. It was an incredible opportunity but also a big challenge to be outside of my home and my country at a very early age. In Europe everything was different; the culture, the food Eventually I came back to ASC Barcelona every year and it became my second home.
ES: You know that our 360 ASC System focuses on the 4 Pillars of tennis. Which is the most important one for you?
RR: Although physical is important, I think the mental pillar is crucial. During the last years I've learned so much about staying present in every match, fighting every point. Mental strength makes the difference; it also goes together with confidence.
ES: What are your goals for this year?
RR: When I came last year to ASC Florida, I wanted to get in the top 150, and I made it. This year, I would like to reach the top 100 by the end of the year.
ES: You've been playing at the Common Wealth Games, Cincinnati Open, Indian Wells If you had to choose to do well in one of these tournaments, which one would you take?
RR: To do well in Miami Open.
Apart from the Grand Slams the Miami Open is considered one of the biggest events in the tour. Since last year I couldn't compete there, it became one of my main goals for 2018.
ES: What does it mean to you to represent your country in the Davis Cup?
RR: To play for your country, to listen to the national anthem, it's something very special. I like to play with the crowd; they push you to give your best until the end of the match.
ES: RED (Respect, Effort and Discipline) is part of the ASC identity. What do these values mean to you?
RR: Tennis teaches you many things that will help you in your tennis career. Sacrifice, focus, stay present, stay away from your cell phone Simple things that then you can apply to your personal life.
We wish him the best of luck and lots of success in his upcoming endeavor.
The Florida Tennis Team is devoted to informing the tennis community of the various events and tournaments in Florida as well as providing tips on the latest instruction and equipment. Through this blog, we hope to stay connected with you!