WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Danielle Collins

The former NCAA star gained 131 spots in 2018 and finished the year at No.36

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Danielle Collins

Danielle Collins won 19 of her first 24 matches of the year, including runs to the fourth round of Indian Wells and Miami semifinals. The University of Virginia alumna won six of the first 10 Top 50 clashes of the season, beating No.14 Keys (Indian Wells), No.37 Begu, No.16 Vandeweghe and No.8 V.Williams (all Miami), No.43 Cirstea (Rome) and No.26 Suárez Navarro (Eastbourne).

She lost the last six matches against Top 50 opponents, but this didn't prevented the American standout to gain 131 spots in the world rankings in 12 months as she closed the season ranked at No.36, up from No.167 in 2017.

The former NCAA star, the biggest mover among the top-100 players in the year-end rankings, sealed 25 of her 33 wins at all levels this season on hard-courts, where she claimed two semifinals in Miami and San Jose to claim her best performances on tour in 2018.

She posted her first tour-level wins during the round-16 run in Indian Wells (l. Suárez Navarro), where she scored her first Top 50 win over No.15 Keys in the second round. In the last edition of the tournament hosted in Key Biscayne, she became the first qualifier to reach the last four (l.

Ostapenko), scoring her first Top 10 win over Venus Williams en route. Collins, who earned $327,965 more than doubling her career earnings at the time, looked confident the whole timein her straight-sets victory. "I have put in the hard work my whole life, so at the end of the day, I know I have done literally everything I can do to put myself in the best situation.

And if I win the match, I win the match and it's awesome. If I lose the match, I lose the match knowing that I did everything in my power to put myself in the best situation," she said in the post-match press conference. Turning pro instead of finishing the college, she added, has never been an option.

"I didn't really have second thoughts, to be honest, because, you know, it cost over $50,000 a year when you're out of state to go to University of Virginia, and I was really happy going to college and being on a team and being in the classroom, and I really wanted to get a degree".

And she got it in media studies, taking a lot of foreign affairs and politics classes, a lot of communications, a lot of law and policy. The American, once used to go fishing with his father, a professional fisherman, learned her game on public courts, starting to to go the IMG Academy aged 15.

"I think it gives me a different perspective. I'm just, like, so grateful every time I go out on the court and get to play another tennis match, because I know it could be so much different. And, you know, I think when you're little and you're having to go up to people and say, Hey, will you hit some balls with me, or, Will you play a practice match with me, it makes you be a little adult in some ways.

It makes you grow up. I think even at a young age I was pretty mature. When I go out here I'm always looking for different resources," she told reporters in Miami. Collins made the quarterfinals in Monterrey (l. Bogdan), but failed to move beyond the second round during the clay season.

She scored the most recent of her six career Top 50 wins over No.26 Suárez Navarro at Eastbourne, where she lost to Kerber in the round-16 before falling at the first hurdle at Wimbledon. She improved her career-high rank in her debut appearance in San Jose, having never previously contested Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic’s predecessor in Stanford.

After the semifinals at the Bay Area event, she lost in the first round at Us Open and won a single match during the Asian Swing, as she reached the second round in Beijing. Evidently, in the first half of 2019, she will have to prove herself in her bid to confirm her stunning results and seal her maiden Grand Slam victory.

Danielle Collins